The teams in the Dwight Howard sweepstakes spent Independence Day in fairly agonizing fashion, left with no alternative but to wait and hope that a decision from the NBA’s most coveted free agent indeed comes Friday.
It was a particularly uncomfortable holiday for the Los Angeles Lakers, sources told ESPN.com, as fears mount within the organization that Howard’s current employers could have fallen to as low as fourth in his pecking order.
Sources close to the situation stressed that the famously fickle Howard — deliberating at a hideaway in Aspen, Colo. — still was undecided about choosing between the Houston Rockets, Dallas Mavericks, Golden State Warriors, Atlanta Hawks and incumbent Lakers. Yet, there were indications late Thursday that Lakers officials, already bracing for the worst, had begun to rethink their long-held position of ruling out sign-and-trade options in the event Howard decides to bolt to one of L.A.’s rivals.
One source briefed on the Lakers’ thinking told ESPN.com that, if the extra fifth year and nearly $30 million they can offer Howard isn’t enough to hold off the competition, they would be forced to “look at everything.”
Earlier today, ESPN’s Marc Stein said that if he was forced to choose, he thinks Howard will sign with the Houston Rockets though obviously left wiggle room to change his opinion.
Howard reportedly has settled on his decision and he was to announce it via Twitter this weekend, but that report has now been said to be “premature” and unlikely to happen. That could be because the Lakers and the team Howard may or may not have decided on are working out a sign and trade scenario or simply, Howard has yet to pick his future locale.