HOUSTON (CBS Houston) – On Sunday seven-time All-Star free agent Dwight Howard kicked off his free agency with short list of potential teams.
The Houston Rockets were the first to court Howard in Los Angeles to open up NBA free agency. Along with Hall of Fame ex-Rockets Clyde Drexler and Hakeem Olajuwon, GM Daryl Morey met with Howard to make their big sales pitch. Houston waived both Carlos Delfino and Aaron Brooks on Sunday and traded last year’s fifth-overall draft pick Thomas Robinson to Portland for future second-round picks and a couple of European players, not affecting cap space. The Rockets are financially poised to offer Howard the maximum contract.
Fran Blinebury from NBA.com thinks Houston and Los Angeles have the advantage when it comes to meeting with Howard.
“In this situation, I would want to either lead-off and overwhelm them with the details of the plan, add all the personalities or yes, in a perfect world, I’d want to close the deal. I’d want to be the last one so he’s giving his current team, the Lakers, that courtesy. That is something to be concerned with,” Blinebury told SportsRadio 610′s MaD Radio on Monday.
“That would preclude the Rockets, I think, from getting confident or too confident because L.A.’s always sitting there in that cleanup spot.”
Monday: Atlanta, Golden State
On Monday Howard will meet with Atlanta and Golden State in Los Angeles. According to Blinebury, both Atlanta and Golden State are two teams that Howard will not be interested in.
“I don’t think he’s going back to Atlanta. He‘s never said that he wanted to play in his hometown,” said Blinebury.
“The Lakers are not inclined to do a sign-and-trade. They are not going to help Dwight get out of town and I know other people have said that in the past. I really think here, the Lakers might stick with it…That’s kind of what the situation would be with Golden State that if you could arrange a sign-and-trade, you would probably have to give up too many of the assets that make that situation attractive to Howard to begin with.
“I think this a free horse. This is the Rockets. This is the Lakers and don’t count out Dallas.”
Tuesday: Dallas, Los Angeles Lakers
Mark Cuban’s bigger-than-life personality could win over Howard, who is often criticized for being immature and easily swayed. The 27-year old will meet with Dallas and L.A. on Tuesday.
“Don’t underestimate Mark Cuban getting into a room with Dwight Howard and that’s why I said Howard is still a young, immature guy so I put Dallas as the dark horse threat for the whole situation,” Blinebury said.
“The Lakers…Look they can pull out all the stops with the Hall of Famers and everything too and again the thing they can pull out is what an extra 30 million bucks and that fifth year of the contract.”
At the end of the day, Howard’s dissatisfaction with his situation in L.A. may overshadow whatever the Lakers can bring to the table.
“This is a guy, who at 27 years old not just untapped (I think) fully in his basketball ability, but at 27 years old still incredibly immature, still incredibly swayable by friends, confidantes, whatever so that’s why I think don’t get too confident,” said Blinebury. “Over the last few years, he has done some incredibly immature, foolish things. So while it all looks good (I would think) for the Rockets, and I said if it was me, we’re basing this on basketball, it’s a no-brainer. The Rockets are where you go, but this is Dwight Howard we’re dealing with and it’s all up in the air,” said Blinebury.
NBA free agency opened Sunday at midnight EDT. Contracts cannot be signed until July 10.
To hear the complete interview with Fran Blinebury, click here.