Atlanta Hawks forward Josh Smith has known Dwight Howard since they were kids and played on the same AAU team. On Sunday Smith weighed on on the center’s future before the Hawks and Los Angeles Lakers tangled at Staples Center. He claimed Howard was simply too loyal to leave the Lakers this summer as a free agent.
I’ll go ahead and give you a minute to stop laughing as you think about Howard’s last year or so with the Orlando Magic.
Here is what Smith had to say about Howard:
“I can’t pick his brain and be in his head but to me, I don’t see him going anywhere. It would be a shock to me. Dwight is a loyal athlete and a loyal person. He’s not a quitter and doesn’t run from situations. That’s why I believe with this franchise and the way he’s talked so well about it, I can’t see him going anywhere.”
Smith is right, there’s almost no chance that Howard goes anywhere, but loyalty probably doesn’t have anything to do with it. The main reason the big man won’t leave the Lakers is because of one thing: money.
Under the NBA’s new collective bargaining agreement, the Lakers can offer Howard a max contract of five years and $117.9 million. If he signs with any other team, Howard could only get four years and $87.6 million. In addition to that, Los Angeles is currently over the luxury tax threshold, and can’t work out a sign-and-trade deal as a result.
Howard hasn’t said that he will re-sign with the Lakers after this season, but there is almost zero chance he winds up anywhere else.