Dwight Howard is not happy playing for the Houston Rockets and all signs poing to him opting out of his contract after the season to become a free agent. Since he won't be returning to Houston, where will Howard play next season?
In addition to the five teams mentioned below, don't rule out a smaller market team like the Orlando Magic, Milwaukee Bucks, New Orleans Pelicans or Portland Trail Blazers making a run at Howard. With that in mind, here are 5 teams that could sign Dwight Howard this offseason.
5. Chicago Bulls
The Joakim Noah Era is all but over in Chicago, and both Noah and Gasol could be goners after this season. With those two gone, the Bulls would have space in the paint for Howard. However, this would require the Bulls to make one last effort at winning-now. They might be more likely to blow up the roster instead of making a run at Howard.
4. Atlanta Hawks
Howard's hometown team nearly traded for him at the deadline, but ultimately decided to hold onto their current pieces. However, it's clear the Hawks are looking to move on from their current core group of players, and with over $30 million in cap space this summer, they have the funds to add Howard. However, they might not want to give it to Howard, a player on the decline.
3. Miami Heat
The Heat looked into dealing for Howard at the trade deadline and he might be their backup plan in the event they don't re-sign Hassan Whiteside. Howard isn't the player he once was, but he's still a quality big man. There's some chemistry risk here, but the Heat have an old roster in win-now mode. Adding Howard could help them compete right now in the East.
2. Charlotte Hornets
The Hornets are a dark horse in the Dwight Howard sweepstakes. Though they're not a contender, they desperately want to become a consistent playoff team with the hope of becoming relevant. Howard could help them on both fronts. He has a great relationship with head coach Steve Clifford from his time as an assistant with the Orlando Magic, making Charlotte a very appealing option for Howard. Playing for Michael Jordan could also appeal to Howard. There's the matter of spacing in the paint with Al Jefferson already on the roster, but he's a free agent. Howard would give the team the tough presence and strong rebounder they lack outside of Jefferson.
1. Boston Celtics
Boston has been heavily pursuing Sacramento Kings center DeMarcus Cousins for the past year, but it seems unlikely that the Kings will move their All-Star center. However, the Celtics could add a short-term star by targeting Howard. They didn't want to pull a trigger on a trade that would cost them future assets, not because they didn't want Howard. The guard-heavy Celtics need a big man and if any coach can get the most out of Howard, it might be Brad Stevens.