There are five serious contenders looking to sign Dwight Howard, the most dominant big man in the league, this offseason. As meetings continue, we acknowledge that each team has something to offer, but they also have a few negative attributes dragging their cases down.
Here's a look at the pros and cons of each team's situation, and who we think will eventually land the big man.
On 12:01 a.m. on July 1, the minute free agency starts, the Houston Rockets meet with Dwight Howard. The Dallas Mavericks, Atlanta Hawks, Golden State Warriors and Los Angeles Lakers will also meet with the big man over the next few days. Clearly there is no lack of interest in the seven-time All-Star. Here's a look at each team's situation, and which is most likely to land Howard.
Pros: The Houston Rockets have a young core led by James Harden, Chandler Parsons and Jeremy Lin. This formidable young roster is good now and will be good for a long time to come. Harden and Howard can form a deadly pick and roll combination. Houston can also offer a four year, $88 million contract with no state income tax. Kevin McHale may run a similar up-tempo offense to Lakers coach Mike D'Antoni's, but at the same time McHale was a big man himself, and with the help of Hakeem Olajuwon he can help polish Howard's post moves.
Cons: McHale may improve Howard's post moves, but he's only made the postseason once out of four seasons. Also, his up-tempo offense is what Howard wants to leave behind. Howard may also have to take a backseat to Harden, who is one of the premier scorers in this league. Lastly, the Rockets are unable to give Howard the extra year that the Lakers can offer.
Pros: Dirk Nowitzki is the big piece that the Mavericks can offer Howard. Nowitzki and Howard would play off of each other perfectly, as Nowitzki can spread the floor and leave Howard a lot of room to work with. Mark Cuban is one of the best owners in sports, and Rick Carlisle has won a championship as a coach. Nowitzki has said he will take a paycut in order to help the team become championship contenders, and Howard will likely have the team built around him. A restaurant in Dallas is also willing to offer him free chicken fingers for life if he signs.
Cons: Although Nowitzki is a proven superstar, he is aging and has shown signs of decline the past few years. The Mavericks' core players are well into their 30s, and without a star other than Nowitzki, the spotlight will be shining bright onto Howard, whether he likes it or not.
Pros: Howard is from Atlanta, so this option presents a homecoming for the big man. Having only three players under contract, the Hawks have financial flexibility and will likely re-sign Jeff Teague, leading to a young core of Teague, Howard and Al Horford.
Cons: The Hawks don't have a formidable coach in Mike Budenholzer, who has never worked an NBA game. The Hawks have never won an NBA championship and currently don't have a legitimate star on their roster. Atlanta also doesn't offer the franchise luster that the Lakers or even Dallas have.
Pros: The chance to play with star Steph Curry is enough, but Klay Thompson, Harrison Barnes and David Lee are all good, if not great, players. Mark Jackson is making his way up the coaching ranks, and the Warriors are going to be good for a long time.
Cons: Golden State does not have the cap space to sign Howard. They would have to pull off an unbelievable sign-and-trade with the Lakers, most likely resulting in one of their young stars leaving the team. The NBA is a business, and without the cap space that the other contenders have, it is hard to see Howard and Curry running the pick and roll any time soon.
Pros: The Lakers can offer Howard the largest contract, and playing with Kobe Bryant, Steve Nash and Pau Gasol is always a plus. The luster of playing in the purple and gold is enticing, along with being knowledgeable with the system he played in last year.
Cons: Howard has stated he is not fond of D'Antoni's system or coaching style. The big man will be the No. 2 option until Bryant retires, which is a big question mark, and Nash is getting further and further from his prime, where he and Howard showed little promise last year. Plus, it has already been noted that Howard is showing little interest in signing with his former team.
-- Follow Patrick Bates on Twitter @pbates13.