After the last two potential suitors (the Dallas Mavericks and the incumbent L.A. Lakers) made their sales pitches to the free-agent center yesterday, it’s now up to Howard to sit back, think over the options — Lakers, Mavs, Houston Rockets, Atlanta Hawks and Golden State Warriors — and reveal his decision (hopefully by July 10).
As with any free agent (and especially so with Dwight), what he does affects more than just him and his current team. Our David Aldridge reports that Howard’s next move is shaping much of what might happen to his childhood friend and former AAU teammate, Hawks star Josh Smith:
Howard completed his meetings with the Mavericks and Lakers Tuesday, the fourth and fifth teams he was scheduled to see before deciding where he will play next season.
Kobe Bryant, according to a source, pointed out that while the Rockets brought Hall of Fame center Hakeem Olajuwon with them to their meeting with Howard Sunday night, and that Yao Ming made a pitch on Houston’s behalf via Skype, “there wasn’t a room big enough” to hold all of the great players who had worn the Lakers’ uniform.
Meanwhile, Smith also finished his meetings with his perspective suitors — most of whom are the same teams that are going after Howard. The Pistons have made a strong impression on Smith, according to a source, but he is still open to several other teams — including Houston and Atlanta. He is less interested in the Sacramento Kings, who made their own move Tuesday night toward securing a forward by making a four-year, $56 million offer to Denver All-Star Andre Iguodala.