Free agency is almost – finally – here.
At 9:01 pm PST this evening, Dwight Howard will officially become a free agent. Mitch Kupchak will put in a call to Howard’s representatives, and then the All-Star center will begin the courting process.
The Houston Rockets are expected to be the first team to meet with Howard, according to multiple reports. Per HoopsWorld‘s Alex Kennedy, the Rockets will bring Hakeem Olajuwon, Clyde Drexler, James Harden, Chandler Parsons, Kevin McHale, Daryl Morey and Les Alexander to their meeting in Los Angeles.
The Rockets have already begun making moves in order to offer Howard a max contract this evening, waiving Aaron Brooks and Carlos Delfino earlier in the day, and then completing a trade with the Portland Trail Blazers with the sole purpose of off-loading Thomas Robinson’s contract.
Both Dirk Nowitzki and Mark Cuban will be present during Dallas’ meeting, though they’ll likely have a hard time selling their current situation to Howard who is said to be making a decision based on where he can win a championship.
As for the Golden State Warriors, they’ll be at a disadvantage seeing as they’re over the salary cap and the Lakers would have to co-operate with them in order to pull-off a sign-and-trade deal. Nevertheless, they’re still going all-out, taking along with them Lakers legend, Jerry West, who is now a consultant to the Bay Area team:
The Atlanta Hawks will also deliver a pitch to Howard, which will likely center around the idea of him playing in front of his home fans, seeing as Dwight is from Atlanta. However, Howard has never really shown any interest in playing for the Hawks, yet he’ll still see what they have to say.
The Los Angeles Lakers‘ pitch will consist of the team letting Howard know that they “remain committed to winning championships, and will do what’s necessary to give the team a chance to contend every season” according to ESPN, which is said to be a similar pitch to the one Dr. Jerry Buss delivered to Kobe Bryant when he was a free agent in 2004, a time when he came “very close” to joining the Los Angeles Clippers, per the report.
The report states that Kobe and Steve Nash will be present at the meeting, though Phil Jackson will not be available to make a pitch as he’ll be at his summer home in Montana. Phil made sure his feelings toward Howard be known publicly on Sunday, though, when he tweeted Dwight, saying that L.A. is the place for the All-Star center.
Howard can officially sign a new contract on July 10, but a he’s expected to make a decision a good few days before that.
Buckle up, guys…