Reports: Rockets to get first free agency meeting with Dwight Howard
The Rockets will be the first team to meet with Dwight Howard when the summer free agency period opens this weekend, according to multiple reports.
ESPN.com reports that Howard, set to become an unrestricted free agent, will meet with the Rockets delegation in Los Angeles.
The Rockets plan to send general manager Daryl Morey, coach Kevin McHale, owner Les Alexander, [Hall of fame center Hakeem] Olajuwon and current Rockets James Harden and Chandler Parsons to recruit Howard, the source said.
Yahoo! Sports also reports that the Rockets will be the first team to meet with Howard.
Free agency officially opens on Monday, July, 1 at 12:01 a.m. Eastern Time, or 9:01 p.m. Sunday in Los Angeles. Although teams and players can begin having contact as of July 1, deals cannot be officially consummated until the end of the free agency moratorium on July 10. Howard is reportedly expected to announce his decision shortly after the moratorium is lifted.
Howard, 27, averaged 17.1 points, 12.4 rebounds and 2.4 blocks in his only season with the Lakers after being acquired from the Magic in a four-team blockbuster trade last summer.
The Los Angeles Times reported earlier this week that Howard would meet with the Rockets, Mavericks and Hawks before giving the Lakers the final word. ESPN.com reports the Mavericks will meet with Howard on Tuesday. Yahoo! Sports reports Saturday that the Warriors would also meet with Howard next week.
The Lakers can offer Howard a five-year contract worth $118 million while outside suitors can offer him $88 million over four years, according to multiple reports.
RELATED: Ian Thomsen’s Free Agency Primer
One report this week indicated that Howard was “unlikely” to re-sign with the Lakers, but that hasn’t stopped the franchise from papering Los Angeles with billboards urging Howard to stay.
The seven-time All-Star told reporters after the Lakers were swept by the Spurs in the first round of the playoffs that he planned to “step away” before considering his free agency options.
“I’m going to step away from everything for a couple weeks and clear my head before I do or talk about anything, as far as next season,” Howard said in April. “I think I deserve that. That’s what I’m going to do.”
Lakers GM Mitch Kupchak told Lakers.com this week that he believes Howard is a Hall of Famer.
“He’s our future,” Kupchak said.