W Debate: Where will Howard end up?
Question: Will Dwight Howard stay with the Lakers or go somewhere else in free agency?
Kate Fagan: Dwight is gone -- he's going elsewhere. But more importantly, once he signs this contract -- my money is on Houston -- we'll finally be done talking about Dwight Howard for at least three years. You would think he would be sick of being a constant part of the news cycle, yet here we are, going on Summer No. 3 tracking Dwight's every move.
Anyway, I think he's going to Houston because the Rockets have the best upside: Dwight would be playing with James Harden and Jeremy Lin.
Dwight becomes a Rocket and ends the Dwight-saga or the Dwight-mare, or whatever else we're calling it these days.
Sarah Spain: I disagree, but not because your prediction doesn't make sense. If Howard went to the Rockets, he would be paired with a top-notch complementary player in Harden, have a great chance to win and be a hero to a Houston fan base that's waited nearly 20 years for another championship. He could help the Rockets win while avoiding some of the scrutiny that comes with playing in a market like L.A. and while getting out of the shadow of Kobe Bryant, who still feels he has a few things left to prove. It makes sense. But when predicting the next move of one Dwight Howard, common sense needn't be applied. This is a man who announced he wanted to leave Orlando, then announced he wanted to stay, then left. He wanted to go somewhere he could win. No, he wanted to play in a big market. No, he wanted to play where he'd be the star.
In the end, he went to a big market where he wasn't the star, and he didn't win. One outta three ain't bad.
Now, after a year with the struggling Lakers (and a significant drop in his Q-score), Howard seems to have realized that winning -- and only winning -- is the way to get people on your side. So will he go somewhere that gives him the best chance at a championship? Your guess is as good as mine. A move to Houston means giving up a lot of money -- the Rockets can give him a four-year deal worth about $88 million, while the Lakers can give him a five-year, $117.9 million contract. A move to Houston means putting his faith in an up-and-coming team that says it's about winning but hasn't won it all in nearly two decades. The Lakers had a rough year, and they'll need to make some moves if they want to be contenders, but if there's a team that is defined by success, it's the Lakers. Both teams make sense for different reasons. Who knows which one makes "sense" in Howard's world.
Do the other teams in the running, such as the Hawks, Mavs and Warriors, even have a chance?
KF: I think Golden State is the dark horse in this race, because the Warriors have an awesome young core and Dwight could help them win while also escaping the blinding glare if he (more likely) doesn't help them win. Still, I think he's going to Houston. Atlanta is too obvious because it's his hometown, and the Hawks really aren't that good. The Mavericks would just be too over-the-top: Can you picture Dwight grinning on the big HD screen inside that arena? I can, but I really don't want to.
As for the Lakers, I just feel like that would be too easy, too commonsense of a move for Dwight. Stay with the team that traded for him and can offer him Bird rights money? Nah ...
Have you seen this graphic going around Twitter? Dwight in the Houston Rockets jersey looks the most right to me.
SS: I don't know, that Warriors jersey sure looks nice, too.
And you know what, Kate? At this point in the Dwight-mare/Howard-coaster, hearing that the big man picked a team based on its jersey wouldn't even be all that surprising. His talent cannot be underestimated, but his mental weaknesses have proved to be his Achilles' heel. Howard would have been better served playing in a different era, when demanding trades and switching teams wasn't so easy to do. Back in the old days Howard would have been forced to grow up and learn how to take a team from dark times into winning days. Instead, he's made a name for himself as a man who can't step up and put the weight of a franchise on his back, a man who wants to demand the best but rarely gives his best. People have grown tired of his act, as evidenced by the more subdued, less frenzied coverage of his free agency this summer when compared to last. He may someday find what he's looking for (A championship? Love from his fans? The respect of his peers?), but I predict he'll be remembered as much for his failures off the court as any successes he may have on it.