June 22, 2016, 8:27 am
According to ESPN’s Calvin Watkins, before Dwight Howard declined his player option Houston Rockets officials reached out in an effort to keep him with the team. According to Watkins: “The team values Howard’s defensive abilities and the potential of what he can do on the offensive end in a new scheme under just hired coach Mike D’Antoni as the reasoning for retaining him.” Both general manager Daryl Morey and Rockets’ CEO Tad Brown spoke with Howard and his agent, but Howard ultimately elected to opt out of his $23.2 million deal.
There are a couple of different factors in play for Howard. With the salary cap rising to $94 million next season he stands to make an obscene amount of money on the upon market. Howard is now 30-years-old, and might be looking at his last chance to secure a long-term deal that pays him the maximum he’s able to earn. Houston may have wanted Howard to opt in to the last year of his deal so they could retain his services for another season while avoiding committing to an aging center with back issues going forward.
On the court, the Rockets no longer seem like an ideal fit for Howard either. He never quite gelled with James Harden offensively, and the Rockets have long been at the forefront of the pace-and-space revolution in the NBA, which Howard doesn’t quite fit. Moreover, the hiring of D’Antoni probably didn’t go over too well in the Howard camp given the acrimonious end of his time in Los Angeles.
At this point it would be a surprise to see D-12 back in Houston, but their willingness to keep him in the short term underlines how useful a player Howard still is, despite the negative publicity he generates.