Dwight Howard had a productive meeting with the Atlanta…

Dwight Howard had a productive meeting with the Atlanta Hawks on Friday, according to a league source. It was the first and currently the only meeting Howard, an Atlanta native, has scheduled. “It was a really, really, really good meeting,” the source said. “Very impressive. We don’t have a deal. Dwight’s going to look at all his options. But it went very, very well.”

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Sam Amick: Update relating to that last RT: I'm told the Hawks' meeting with Dwight Howard has already concluded & - you guessed it - it went well. - Q: not VERY well? - Sam Amick: Actually, since you asked, the exact phrasing was "very well." Howard-to-the-Hawks is very possible.
Adrian Wojnarowski: Atlanta Hawks and free agent Dwight Howard made a strong connection in meeting today, sources tell @The Vertical. There's traction there.
Tim MacMahon: The Mavs have no plans to target Dwight Howard or Bismack Biyombo at this point after missing out on Hassan Whiteside, a source told ESPN.com. As has been the case for months, the Mavs' stance on Howard is that their interest depends on his price tag plummeting far below a maximum contract.
Jason Quick: A person with knowledge of the Blazers' plans says their intention is to go after both Chandler Parsons and Dwight Howard.
Calvin Watkins: When Dwight Howard starts having his free agent meetings on Friday he'll be seeking a contract starting at $24 million a season according to a source. Howard is expected to conduct his meetings in his hometown of Atlanta.
A max contract for Howard could exceed $132 million over four years. No team executives interviewed by B/R believe Howard merits that kind of investment, or anything close to it. "When you've been the go-to guy—the starring position—for so long, it's kind of hard to accept [a lesser stature]," said Vince Carter, who played with Howard in Orlando.
Assuming he signs elsewhere, Howard would be joining his fourth team in six seasons. That kind of instability tends to raise red flags. "He wants to win," said a GM who once pursued Howard. "But I don't know if he knows how hard and how serious he has to be about winning."
Howard's work ethic is solid, but he's an irrepressible class clown. He doesn't know when to turn it off. "We walk in the locker room and everything is a joke," said one team official who worked with Howard.
This is a common refrain, too—that Howard is too easily swayed by friends, family and advisers, making decisions based on whoever spoke to him last.
The Blazers have a gazillion in cap room, and they want to hold the line in a Western Conference that will be better almost across the board. They could use a defensive anchor at center, and Blazers will absolutely look at Howard, per several league sources. Boston has a Dwight meeting on the books already -- stock up on candy, guys! -- and could use a rim protector.
Sources told ESPN that Howard, 30, is likely to meet with as many as five teams in free agency, with a return to the Houston Rockets widely seen as unlikely after Howard declined his $23.2 million player option for next season.
Marc Stein: Story going online now: Atlanta has Kevin Durant aspirations, too, while ESPN sources say the Hawks are also weighing a run at Dwight Howard
The Knicks, as Jackson and coach Jeff Hornacek acknowledged, are now in the market for a center and a shooting guard. Jackson, as reported by the Daily News, told Rose that the Knicks will be making a run at top free agent Kevin Durant. In terms of a center, which is the deepest position in the 2016 free agent class, the options include Joakim Noah, Dwight Howard and Pau Gasol. The Knicks are expected to sign Willy Hernangomez, their 2015 second-round pick, as the back-up center.
James Harden on Rockets center Dwight Howard, who elected to become a free agent: "He's his own man. He knows what's best for his career. He will make whatever the best decision is, that he wants. Whatever that is."
Another name to keep in mind is Dwight Howard. Sources say Howard would consider signing with the Knicks. It is unclear at this point if the Knicks are interested in Howard. Signing Howard to a max deal would eat up most of New York's cap space.
Ian Begley: The Knicks are looking to upgrade their backcourt this offseason. But if they have any interest in a center, one of the top bigs on the market would be open to signing with them. The Knicks are one of several teams Dwight Howard would consider in free agency, league sources say. Howard told friends earlier in the season that he was interested in playing for the Knicks; that interest remains as Howard approaches free agency, per league sources. It's unclear, though, if Phil Jackson and the Knicks would have any interest in Howard. They signed Robin Lopez to a four-year contract last summer. Lopez was a bright spot for the club during last year's 32-win campaign. The club is expected to have at least $30 million in cap space this summer.
"He [coach Mike D'Antoni] would welcome him [Howard] back. We would welcome him back," Rockets general manager Daryl Morey told SiriusXM Bleacher Report Radio's Howard Beck and Noah Coslov on Sunday when asked about the situation.
I was told by both sides that a Orlando reunion is highly unlikely. The Magic don’t want it and I am not sure Dwight does either. I know a lot of people keep saying Dwight would, but people in his life say no chance. He does not want the luggage that would come with that.
Most league observers expect former Magic center Dwight Howard to opt out of his Houston Rockets contract and become a free agent this summer. But it’s highly unlikely that the Magic would pursue Howard unless he seeks a one-year deal for reasonable money.
Rockets guard Jason Terry is not convinced former All-Star center Dwight Howard is done in Houston “I wouldn’t rule (a return) out,” Terry said in an interview with Justin Termine and Eddie Johnson on SiriusXM NBA Radio. “He has yet to opt out. Again, it’s just going to depend on if you get the right coach in there.
ESPN: Most people believe you will opt out of your contract with Houston on July 1. Are you leaning that way? Howard: "To be honest, I have had some conversations with close friends on what would happen if I do opt out. But I haven't really come out and said, 'I'm going to opt out and do this and that.' I just can't focus on that right now. We didn't have the kind of season we wanted, and I didn't have the kind of season I wanted and it was really upsetting to me. So my thinking is, 'I'm going to get in the gym, get my body right and when the playoffs are over take a look at everything.' As much as it may seem crazy or unbelievable that I'm not thinking about it, every time I do think about it, my mind starts racing back and forth. I don't need that kind of pressure right now. My agent (Perry Rogers) is smart. He's done this for years. Let him worry about the teams and the [contract] numbers.''
Former Mavericks guard Jason Terry says Dallas would be a "great fit" for Howard. But he has to accept Carlisle's style of coaching. Terry detailed the idea -- and a potential issue -- in an interview for ESPN Radio's Cowlishaw and Mosley on Tuesday. "It would be a great fit. I think the key cog in that wheel is Dwight," Terry said. "Are you willing to come in and accept Carlisle's style of coaching? He has a great offensive system. It's all about structure, player movement, ball movement. But the big guy really doesn't touch it a lot on the inside."
Aaron Goatdon: If he could pull a miracle and get a star like Jimmy Butler on the team, I think getting Dwight Howard or Mike Conley would be successful. - Steve Kyler: Dwight Howard is not an option in Orlando's eyes... Mike Conley not very likely either.
Long-time NBA coach Herb Brown joined me on the radio show (weekdays 12-3p on 750-AM and 102.9-FM) to talk about the NBA playoffs, the job that Portland coach Terry Stotts has done, and Dwight Howard to Portland rumors. Listen to the full interview here. "I think you're courting disaster. He's not a finisher inside. He doesn't like being subservient, or being second-fiddle to other players, and I don't think he's developed his game, and improved his game. I'd rather have (Hassan) Whiteside. I'd rather have (Andre) Drummond. I'd rather have Steven Adams, because he's a workhorse. "Just because Portland is on Howard's short list, it doesn't mean Howard has to be on Portland's short list. I'm a little afraid of that."
Howard, who played the past three seasons with the Houston Rockets, has a player option worth $23.2 million for the 2016-17 season. It's expected Howard will not pick up the option and will enter the free-agent market, looking for a max contract that could pay him $30 million per season. "I haven't made any decision," Howard said Tuesday night. "My job is to get in the gym and work my butt off."
Long-time NBA coach Herb Brown joined me on the radio show (weekdays 12-3p on 750-AM and 102.9-FM) to talk about the NBA playoffs, the job that Portland coach Terry Stotts has done, and Dwight Howard to Portland rumors. "I think you're courting disaster. He's not a finisher inside. He doesn't like being subservient, or being second-fiddle to other players, and I don't think he's developed his game, and improved his game. I'd rather have (Hassan) Whiteside. I'd rather have (Andre) Drummond. I'd rather have Steven Adams, because he's a workhorse. "Just because Portland is on Howard's short list, it doesn't mean Howard has to be on Portland's short list. I'm a little afraid of that."
At the top of the Mavericks’ wish list this year is Houston Rockets center Dwight Howard, who plans to opt out of the final year of his contract and become a free agent this summer. Howard, it would seem, has absolutely everything the Mavericks need from a center. Plus, Howard constantly draws a double team, which would allow Dirk Nowitzki to hang out on the perimeter and basically enjoy target practice during the twilight of his career.
As I said during an episode of the Orlando Sentinel’s “Orlando Magic Now” webcast on April 7, I think it is highly unlikely that the Magic will have interest in signing Howard to a multi-year deal.
The Rockets have not ruled out trying to keep Howard, but that would be part of a larger plan and would depend greatly on their choice of coach. The Rockets' top priority would be to join the pursuit of Thunder star Kevin Durant. Oklahoma City's success and the Rockets' issues could complicate that because the Rockets likely seek a key signing to help entice Durant, the prize of the summer.
When the subject of his future came up Wednesday, Howard declined one inquiry and later dismissed another by turning away in silence. Harden offered a tepid endorsement to bringing back a player whose star has diminished greatly because of injuries to his back and knees. “I mean, ultimately it’s his decision, but you know, obviously, we love big fella here,” Harden said. “And you know, I guess he’ll go back with his family and he’ll figure it out.”
The Rockets will have a comprehensive list of coaches to view whenever the season ends. Bickerstaff, who remains in good standing with management, will be part of that conversation. Alexander and Morey believe that Harden will play a role in helping to hire a coach and potentially sign free agents. Howard is not expected to have a role. It's expected that he will become a free agent and seek a new team. Orlando, Milwaukee, Portland and Charlotte are the favorites.
Howard is frustrated because he believes Harden doesn't respect him enough. Howard texts former teammates asking what can be done to solve the problems. That same poor dynamic between Harden and Howard, and the inconsistent play of others has hurt Bickerstaff, who took over 11 games into the season when Alexander fired McHale. "The team was not responding to Kevin," Morey said at the time of the firing. "There is no time in the West."
It's expected that he will become a free agent and seek a new team. Orlando, Milwaukee, Portland and Charlotte are the favorites.
Parsons will opt out of his Mavericks contract to be a free agent, an option Howard has with the Rockets. Parsons said if he signs with Dallas, he would recruit Howard, as he did when Howard signed with the Rockets in 2014. "Is he a prophet?" Howard said of Parsons' prediction that Howard will leave Houston. "Our focus is on this basketball game. It doesn't matter what anybody on the outside says. We are friends. We're close. None of that stuff matters right now. This is about this team right here, what we're trying to accomplish. Who cares what anybody else says?
"I don't pay attention to it. My job is to focus on being great tomorrow and helping this team win, no matter what anybody else has to say. Chandler and I are close friends. It's not about what he thinks or he wants right now. It's about this team, what we're trying to accomplish."
Stephen A. Smith thinks Dwight Howard is on his way out in Houston. He also believes that Howard’s Rockets teammates are sending him the message that they don’t want him around anymore. As evidence he points to the fact that Howard hasn’t hit double digits in field goal attempts in 13 games. To Stephen A. that proves his teammates don’t care to get the big man the ball.
Sources says the Mavericks' interest in Dwight Howard as a free agent this summer will be dependent on the price. The Mavs do not intend to be in on the bidding for Howard if it's in the neighborhood of a max contract, which would have a starting salary of more than $30 million. The Mavs made Howard their primary target and offered a max contract in 2013, when the center signed with the Rockets. However, concerns about the 30-year-old Howard's durability and desire have caused the Mavs to decide that he isn't worth a nine-figure investment over four years at this point.
Dwight is also expected to hit the market this summer after opting out of his contract. Do you anticipate that there will be discussions between you two about hooking back up, whether that's in Dallas or somewhere else? Parsons: Yeah. We have ongoing talks and text messages still to this day. He's one of my good friends. It's cool that we could have the opportunity to go into free agency this summer together. I've expressed how I think he can be one of the dominant players in this league. I think he still has a lot left in the tank. He gets criticized a lot for whatever reason, but I still think he can be one of the best big men in the league and a game-changer. He's not that old [Howard is 30]. He still has a lot left in the tank.
Houston Rockets center Dwight Howard can opt out of his contract this summer and become a free agent, and Shaquille O'Neal believes it would be in his best interest to return to the Orlando Magic. “I think it would be good for the city,” O’Neal, a 15-time All-Star and one of the newest members of the Basketball Hall of Fame, said Monday per ESPN. “First of all, after the first time he left, letting a big young guy get away, it shouldn’t happen a second time. All the puzzle [pieces] have to fit.”
Howard, who is expected to become a free agent this summer, still wants to win and be paid like a superstar. He fired longtime agent Dan Fegan and hired Perry Rogers, whom he was attracted to because he'll be Rogers' only basketball client. Howard hopes to sign a max contract with a projected average salary of $30 million per season.
Ric Bucher: League sources tell me that the Magic have heard through backchannels that Howard would entertain a return to the Magic kingdom. Make no mistake: His first option would be to remain with the Rockets, but if Houston is not on board with that Howard is exploring his options and Orlando is on the list.
Here's another thing about the dynamic of such a bizarre reunion: Howard recently fired the agent who brokered his soap-opera exit from Orlando. Dan Fegan is public enemy No. 1 with the front office. It got nasty as Fegan tried bullying the Magic into meeting Dwight's trade demands. The fact that Fegan doesn't represent him anymore removes that contentious cloud in any summer talks between Howard and Orlando.
During the Rockets' visit to Milwaukee on Monday night, Bucks announcer Gus Johnson recounted a conversation with Howard in which they talked about him heading to Milwaukee at the deadline. According to Johnson, Howard didn't want to opt in (confirming deadline reports) but did say he likes Milwaukee and insinuated he may have re-signed there.
Question: What is the likelihood the Mavs sign Dwight Howard, Al Horford or Hassan Whiteside in the off-season? Eddie Sefko: I can assure you it won't be Dwight Howard. Hassan Whiteside has off-court issues, according to many people. Al Horford is a personal favorite for a long time. I'd love to see him as a Maverick. I think he would fit great with Dirk and Parsons. But then again, how many Gators can you have on one team?
Howard said he has not targeted another agent and is not weighing his free agent options. "Right now my focus is on us winning and trying to get to the playoffs and win a championship," Howard said. "All the other stuff, it's not a factor now."
Morey said he was "never close" to agreeing to a deal. Multiple front office executives around the league, speaking on the condition of anonymity because of the private nature of trade talks, said there was little chance Howard would be dealt despite widespread conversations, citing Morey's asking price and Howard's coming free agency.
The gap between what the Rockets wanted and what teams offered for Howard was considerable, for two reasons: Howard, 30, can be a free agent at the end of the season, and he will likely seek a contract worth north of $20 million per year. Howard has been healthy for most of this season, yet concerns about a once-debilitating back injury linger. And while executives admit Howard is better than the pedestrian scorer (14.6 points per game) he has morphed into alongside James Harden, you are hard-pressed to find many willing to mortgage the future of the franchise to go get him.
Houston would like nothing more than to move forward with Howard and Harden as cornerstones, to use the pair to lure a marquee free agent like Durant, to assemble an All-Star team that can compete with the one blitzing the league in Golden State. But the Rockets understand: The relationship between Howard and Harden has become increasingly unsalvageable. Howard has never whispered a word about wanting out of Houston, about any disdain for Harden, but the lack of on-court chemistry between the two is obvious. Howard still craves a bigger role, and it's hard to see that materializing in Houston.
"Many teams called expressing great interest in trading for Dwight. The obvious stumbling block to a trade was how could a team justify giving up important assets for a player who was about to become a free agent in a few short months? Not surprisingly, as the deadline approached, several teams called stating they had worked out the trade parameters with Houston for a Dwight deal but were not prepared to give up their assets unless Dwight agreed to opt into the last year of his contract and forego free agency. Dwight declined," Howard's agent, Dan Fegan, told ESPN.com on Thursday night.
Another stumbling block to making a deal is Howard's pending free agency. He has a $23.3 million player option for next season, something he most likely won't use, allowing him to become an unrestricted free agent. Howard is expected to seek a max contract that could give him an average salary of $30 million per season. A potential new team might just rent Howard for this season and not commit to him long term.
Jonathan Feigen: I'm told people took the Dwight comment that he intends to be with Rockets for rest of season to mean only this season. Didn't say that. We did not talk about next season. We talked about the trade deadline which is tomorrow.
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