Originally posted on Fox Sports West  |  Last updated 5/24/13
Ladies and gentlemen, the Dwight Howard sweepstakes have reached a critical point in their level of annoyingness: even teams without cap space are now rumored to be destinations. That latest team to throw its proverbial hat into the ring or at least into the rumor mill is Golden State, a destination that looks far more attractive after its playoff run this spring and with its abundance of young talent. That said, the Warriors salary for next season is over 75 million, and thus over the luxury tax threshold, so it would take some maneuvering in the form of a sign-and-trade for the team to get its hands on Howard. So what does this all mean? Certainly not that fans in the Bay Area should be ordering up their D12 jerseys just yet. No, rather, this is just the beginning, just the end of May, and its a reminder that this crusade to land the Lakers big man is only going to get more complicated in the weeks to come. Another report this week in the Fort Worth Star-Telegram added fuel to the Howard-to-Texas rumors. Theres been rampant chatter of Houston, with its ample cap space and young, talented core, would be a prime target for Howard, but Dallas is also emerging in pursuit. The Mavericks, who pasted a team together in 2012-13 out of short-term contracts in the hopes of landing a player of Howards caliber this offseason, are primed offer big money. They want to surround Dirk Nowitzki with enough talent to get him one last championship, and that effort has now focused on Howard and only Howard, according to the Star-Telegram report. The team reportedly pulled back on its efforts to land Chris Paul after the Clippers decided not to bring Vinny Del Negro back, and now Mark Cuban and company are setting their sights on Howard. So that leaves us with Houston, Dallas, and also Atlanta as attractive prospects with the space to sign the big man. That leaves Golden State with the ability to send about 20 million in salary (think Andrew Boguts expiring deal and a young player like Harrison Barnes) to Los Angeles in a sign-and-trade for the big guy. And of course that leaves the Lakers as well, the increasingly less attractive contender that has one advantage: their ability to offer Howard five years and 118 million rather than four years and 87 million. More names will surface. You can bet on that. July 1 is a long way off. Theres another wrinkle (of course there is) to all this, a wrinkle in the form of Texass tax laws that should certainly factor into the weighing of these rumors. In the end, this is going to come down to money as much as the core Howard will surround himself with, and in that department, the Lakers have a simple advantage. The Rockets and Mavericks, though, have the promise of no state income tax on Howards sizeable contract, thus closing the gap a bit between their offers and the Lakers. This puts Golden State at a distinct disadvantage. Even if they were to acquire Howard in a sign-and-trade, it could still only be for the four-year deal, no matter that the Lakers would technically be signing him. With the same income tax situation as the Lakers would face, the money becomes increasingly less attractive, and though thats not to say itll come down to money so simply, its certainly something to ponder as the summer progresses.
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