In a strange turn of events, it looks like the Los Angeles Lakers might not be the only team in Los Angles who will be vying for Dwight Howard’s services this summer. According to Reid Laymance of the Houston Chronicle, the Clippers are looking to clear up some cap space to bring in Howard along side Chris Paul.
“There is new competition, by the way. A few executives around the league have learned since the Clippers’ season ended with a first-round playoff loss to Memphis that they are probing ways to dump enough salary to make a run at Howard. Other personnel execs said they doubted that the Clippers could free enough money to make a serious run at him.”
With no one really knowing what Howard’s mind set is going into this summer, he can end up almost anywhere as long as the team has the cap space to bring him in. Teams like the Dallas Mavericks, Brooklyn Nets and the Houston Rockets have already been rumored to be looking to go after Howard in free agency. The Clippers, who have to worry about bringing back Paul, had been completely out of the picture until now.
It will be difficult for the Clippers to clear up space, however. Although Lamar Odom, Ryan Gomes, Chauncey Billups, Ronny Turiaf, Ryan Hollins, Matt Barnes and a few other guys who were making the league minimum all come off the books this off season, they’ll only have enough cap space to bring in Howard should they let Chris Paul go as well — or if they trade either Blake Griffin (which they most definitely won’t) or DeAndre Jordan (whose outlandish contract coupled with low production would prove to be difficult).
The Clippers are only have $45 million committed to contracts for next season, but if they bring Paul back for the Max, he will likely make over $20 million, which will likely put them right around the salary cap. Considering the fact that Howard will have to sign a long term deal as well, that would put the Clippers way over the cap. Just Paul, Griffin, Jordan and Howard would put the Clippers at the threshold, for the next two years, and they’d still have to fill out their roster.
Even with this news, Howard re-signing with the Lakers seems to be the most likely scenario as he ultimately holds the most leverage with the Lakers and can sign for the most money for the highest number of years. Many believe that the money he would lose by signing with another team wouldn’t be worth having to come back to Los Angeles for another year despite not fully enjoying his first season in the City of Angels. Furthermore, the backlash he’d receive from the fans in Los Angeles — who are still largely Lakers fans — could destroy his psyche.
In case you missed it, be sure to check out the latest with Pau Gasol’s knee procedure.
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