Aside from the playoffs themselves, a lot of the current talk in the NBA revolves around where superstar big man Dwight Howard will be playing next season.
After forcing a trade from the Orlando Magic last summer, Howard had a turbulent year with his new team, the Los Angeles Lakers. Following a first round postseason sweep at the hands of the San Antonio Spurs, many believe that the 6'11 center will be on the move again this offseason.
|Photo by: Getty Images|
A youthful squad with championship aspirations is what Howard is looking for, and the Rockets certainly have the cap space to make him a tempting offer. Rumor has it that Howard is interested in potentially signing with Houston, and James Harden has even dropped hints that he is trying to help recruit the 7-time All-Star, which would lead one to believe that the Rockets are the current front runners in the Dwight Howard sweepstakes.
The youngest team in the league, really all Houston is missing is a dominant big man. The combination of Howard, Harden, and up-and-comer Chandler Parsons could make the Rockets a major force to be reckoned with in the Western Conference for many years to come.
Another team that resides in the state of Texas is in the running for Howard's services. The Dallas Mavericks are reportedly willing to trade their 13th pick in the draft to clear cap space for the 3-time Defensive Player of the Year.
The Mavs missed the playoffs this season, but have won a title in recent years. We also know that owner Mark Cuban is always trying to assemble championship-caliber talent, so that could be a big selling point as well. A frontcourt of Howard and former NBA Finals MVP Dirk Nowitzki would be very formidable to say the least.
Of course, Howard could decide to just stay with Los Angeles. They did make the postseason this year, but it's well-known that the chemistry within the Purple & Gold's locker room was notoriously shaky.
Needless to say, Howard has earned the reputation around the league of being a prima donna, and the City of Angels may not be big enough for both his and Kobe Bryant's enormous egos, assuming the Lakers choose not to amnesty Kobe this offseason due to injury.
Whether he decides to stay in California and be the centerpiece for the Lakers to build around, leave for Texas and shift the balance of power in the West, or a surprise team enters the fold and ultimately lands the 5-time All-NBA First Teamer, Howard will once again be the focal point of the NBA's offseason, and his signing could be a deciding factor in determining who ultimately walks away with the Larry O'Brien Trophy in 2014.