Rather surprisingly, the Golden State Warriors have emerged as one of the five finalists in the courtship of Dwight Howard. Warriors execs met with the star center Monday afternoon, Howard's third meeting in a 48-hour whirlwind that started with the Houston Rockets Sunday evening, continued with the Atlanta Hawks and Warriors on Monday and will wrap up with the Dallas Mavericks and the Los Angeles Lakers on Tuesday.
[RELATED: Dwight Howard free agency is underway]
The Lakers have been steadfast all summer in saying they would not agree to a sign-and-trade deal for Howard, which is exactly what would need to happen for Howard to end up in Northern California next year, as the Warriors do not have enough cap space to offer him a maximum contract on their own. If Howard choses not to return to Los Angeles the Lakers will at least try to make out with something, and the Warriors pose the best option for them.
Golden State has offered the Lakers center Andrew Bogut and either Klay Thompson or Harrison Barnes in exchange for Howard, according to the website RealGM.com. With Los Angeles trying to free up as much cap space as possible in advance of next summer's expected free agent frenzy, the Warriors can also offer several expiring contracts that would do just that come the 2014 offseason.
From both the Warriors and Lakers perspectives this seams like a good deal. For the Warriors, they would be able to keep Stephen Curry and David Lee, as well as either Thompson or Barnes. Plug in Howard as you have a very solid starting lineup. AND it could allow them to get rid of an Andres Biedrins or a Richard Jefferson, should Los Angeles want a salary dump.
For the Lakers, Bogut is a very solid starting center capable of averaging 15-plus and 10 when healthy. Klay Thompson and Harrison Barnes are two of the fastest rising stars in the league and would be a youthful jolt to a rapidly aging team.
The Lakers, however, again made it clear they are not interested in a sign-and-trade, preferring to keep the open salary cap space they would get should Howard not re-sign.
Per @Mike_Bresnahan, the Lakers would rather let Dwight Howard walk than sign-and-trade him and pay luxury tax on Bogut, etc.
— Marcus Thompson (@gswscribe) July 2, 2013
The Warriors met with Howard on Monday evening, brining a contingent that included owner Joe Lacob, general manger Bob Myers, special consultant Jerry West, as well as star guard Stephen Curry, who worked out with Howard Monday morning at UCLA.
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