Free-agent center Dwight Howard is the most popular kid in school right now. As teams try to shape their future by bringing in one of the best players in the NBA (when healthy), Howard has a lot of options to weigh in terms of where he wants to start the next era of his career. After meeting with the Houston Rockets, Atlanta Hawks and Golden State Warriors, Howard is ready to entertain more offers on Tuesday.
The Los Angeles Lakers and Dallas Mavericks will both get their shot at presenting the reason why Howard should sign with their team on Tuesday. According to ESPN Los Angeles, Howard is set to meet with Mark Cuban and Dirk Nowitzki from the Mavericks (among others) and then the Lakers in the afternoon where he'll be talking to a group that includes Kobe Bryant, Steve Nash and representatives from Time Warner Cable.
Howard will meet with a Mavericks contingent led by team owner Mark Cuban and star Dirk Nowitzki on Tuesday morning. While the Mavs do not have young stars like Houston or Golden State do, they are seen as a wild card in this race because they were on Howard's initial list of preferred teams last season in Orlando, and because of the close relationship between Cuban and Howard's agent, Dan Fegan.
Kobe Bryant and Steve Nash will be a part of the Lakers' pitch to Howard on Tuesday afternoon, league sources told ESPN on Sunday. The Lakers are still finalizing the roster of people who will be a part of their pitch, but the delegation will also include executive vice president of player personnel Jim Buss and representatives from Time Warner Cable. The Lakers signed a record television contract in 2012 with the cable giant that could be worth $5 billion over 25 years.
The meetings with the Hawks, Rockets and Warriors reportedly went well, but it's rare that you actually hear comments about meetings not going well. Everybody thought their meetings went well in 2010 when teams were courting LeBron James. Just because a meeting is a pleasurable experience for Howard doesn't mean he's going to sign there.
It will be interesting to see just how much the Mavericks and Lakers both try to blow the socks off of Howard with their presentations. Last July, Cuban wasn't present at the meeting with Deron Williams as Williams was trying to make his decision on where to sign. Cuban had a television show obligation.
The Lakers have been trying to sneak in quick reminders to Howard that they should still be the priority in his mind with GM Mitch Kupchak sneaking in a quick "hello" to Dwight before his meeting with the Rockets and also Jack Nicholson (yes, the Jack Nicholson) calling to ask him to re-sign with the Lakers. From CBS Los Angeles:
In addition to Lakers GM Mitch Kupchak, who reportedly snuck in a quick face-to-face with Howard as free agency officially kicked off at 9:01 p.m. pacific time on Sunday, Kobe Bryant and Steve Nash will be a part of the pitch to keep Dwight Howard in Los Angeles.
Even acting legend and longtime Lakers fan Jack Nicholson made a personal phone call to plea that Howard stay with the Lakers.
Howard has said he'll try to make his decision by July 10, when players and deals can officially happen.