Report: Dwight Howard unhappy with D'Antoni; Rockets a realistic possibility

Not Celtics news exactly, but instead the team every Celtics fan loves to hate, the Lakers, may lose their next superstar center after only one season.

Dave McMenamin of ESPN Los Angeles had a great write up of the Dwight Howard situation, including this passage on DH12's growing unhappiness with his coach.

According to sources with knowledge of the situation, part of the discussion between Howard and Kupchak centered around Howard's frustration with D'Antoni -- particularly how the center felt marginalized as the coach looked to Bryant and Steve Nash for leadership and suggestions and discounted Howard's voice.

Every player was afforded the opportunity to meet with Kupchak individually after D'Antoni left the room, but few spent as much time as Howard and Kupchak did together.

If you watched any of the Lakers 'Titanic' like journey this season, the bolded is not a huge surprise. D'Antoni looked to Kobe, his best player, and Nash, his longtime point guard to lead the team on the court, and Howard and his coach never seemed to be on the same page.

With all signs pointing towards D'Antoni returning for a second season, this is troubling news for any Lakers fans expecting Howard to re-up with LA.

Of course, if Howard is going to leave, he'll have to pass up some serious money in the process. McMenamin had this to say about the financial details of Howard's next contract.

Howard can sign a five-year, $118 million max-level extension to stay in L.A. come July 1. The most he could receive if he were to leave is a four-year deal worth $87.6 million.

The $30.4 million more the Lakers can offer over any other competitor is certainly an advantage L.A. is banking on when it comes time for Howard to choose, however the economics aren't as swayed towards the Lakers as it would appear.

Two of the teams that will covet Howard's services the most this summer -- the Houston Rockets and Dallas Mavericks -- are located in Texas, where there is no income tax. Howard would still have to pay taxes on road games and other taxes, such as property taxes in Texas tend to be higher than in other states, and the endorsement opportunities in Houston could be less than they are in L.A., yet still, the salary difference doesn't seem to bother Howard.

So if Howard leaves LA, he'll leave a little over $30 million on the table, something very few superstars have been willing to do over the years. However, as McMenamin pointed out, two of Howard's main suitors are located in Texas where there is no income tax. While Howard wouldn't recoup all of his $30 million due to the lower tax rates, it would help.

Speaking of the Rockets, they seem to be gaining momentum as a potential Howard landing spot. Unlike the Lakers, who's best player is the soon to be 35 year old Bryant, and the Mavs, who are built around the 35 year old Dirk Nowitzki, the Rockets have a young superstar in James Harden who Howard could join forces with.

Houston has become an attractive destination for Howard for several other reasons, according to a source. For starters, Howard has gotten to know the Houston area, as well as the history of the franchise, from working out with Rockets Hall of Famer Hakeem Olajuwon two summers ago. Furthermore, the 27-year-old Howard is intrigued by the possibility of growing his game alongside a fellow All-Star on the rise in James Harden, who turns 24 in August.

Howard is expected to entertain the free-agency process and hear competing offers from Houston, Dallas and others, multiple sources told Cleveland and Atlanta are teams that will also be vying for Howard, among other suitors.

For those keeping track, we are now entering Year 3 of "Dwight Howard, egotistical petulant child watch". Starting with his entire last season in Orlando, through his disappointing season in LA, and now to the grand finale (we hope), his free agent swan song.

Never has an NBA superstar handled himself so poorly heading into free agency before, as Howard has raised the douchebag bar to almost unspeakable heights. For all of the crap LeBron got for the way he handled 'The Decision', at least the guy played hard and kept his mouth shut until his contract was up. The same cannot be said about Howard.

One way or the other, here's to the Howard melodrama ending, and if it ends by him sinking the next decade of Lakers basketball (or at least until they somehow trade Pau Gasol back to the Grizzlies for Marc), that's just an added bonus.

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