To be completely honest, I can’t find the strength to get worked up over any report regarding what Dwight Howard will or won’t do when it comes to his impending free agency. I just can’t do it. We’re still only in the middle of May and free agency doesn’t begin until July 1st…there’s simply too much time left in the process to get worked up over this stuff.
That said, the very well regarded Ken Berger of CBS Sports is reporting that Dwight Howard will explore his options in free agency and that teams like the Rockets and Mavericks “intrigue” him. These are teams with good players, cap space, and other desirable traits that should intrigue Dwight. I can’t blame him, I’d be intrigued too. Again, though, I can’t get too caught up in this stuff. Not only is it early, but this is Dwight’s call to make and he can do so on his timeline. He’s earned that right.
So, rather than focus on where Dwight may (or may not) go, let’s look at a different aspect of Berger’s report. One interesting thing he mentioned was the point about compensation and Dwight’s next contract. Here’s the relevant passage:
The clear advantage for the Lakers in their effort to re-sign Howard is the 2011 collective bargaining agreement, which allows LA to give Howard a five-year deal with annual increases based on 7.5 percent of his first-year salary in a new deal — which will be in excess of $20 million. Another team with cap room to sign Howard could only give him a four-year deal with 4.5 percent annual increases — the same arrangement Howard would be limited to if he agreed to leave via a sign-and-trade.
But Howard is only 27, and barring a career-ending injury, he’ll clearly get one more max deal after this one. A four-year deal with an opt-out after three years, for example, would in some ways be preferable to Howard because he’d hit the open market again at age 30 and could then secure his five-year max deal.
The mechanics that Berger mentions are 100% spot on. The Lakers can offer a longer and richer contract. The annual raises would be larger and that 5th year in the contract the Lakers offer would be around $30 million dollars. That’s nothing to sneeze at.