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Dwight Howard.

Report: Dwight Howard to conduct first free agency meetings with the Celtics and Hawks

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Free agency fever is quickly gathering momentum as the market prepares to open on July 1 and teams clamour to attract the star players available. 

This year sees one of the most talented pool of free agents enter the open market and it will be fascinating to see which, if any, players make moves this offseason.

Understandably, Oklahoma City Thunder superstar Kevin Durant is dominating the headlines with his future being the biggest talking point. 

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However, after KD, the biggest intrigue possibly surrounds the future of Dwight Howard, who is almost certain to seek pastures new after a miserable campaign with the Houston Rockets. 

The big man officially declined his $23.2 million player option for next season with the Texas-based franchise. 

The arrival of Mike D'Antoni in Houston as the team's new head coach also made Dwight's departure more likely after he struggled to integrate himself into D'Antoni's playing system when the pair spent a year together at the L.A. Lakers. 

According to ESPN, the 30-year-old is hoping to meet with as many as five teams from Friday and the Atlanta Hawks and Boston Celtics are the first known teams to have secured face-to-face recruiting meetings with him. 

Minnesota Timberwolves v Houston Rockets

The center is an Atlanta native and is believed to have always held an interest in playing for his hometown franchise at some point in his career. 

However, with center Al Horford also entering free agency, the Hawks may possibly speak with Howard as a contingency plan more than anything with uncertainties over Horford's intentions. 

But per ESPN, Atlanta has been weighing up the possibility of pairing the duo in their frontcourt, which would be surprising after the great season Paul Millsap just had.

The discussions with the Boston Celtics may provide the eight-time All-Star with a more definitive outlook, though, as the franchise seeks to bring in a marquee player to compliment the talented young roster it has at its disposal. 

Houston Rockets v Denver Nuggets

The Miami Heat, though they haven't booked a meeting with Howard yet, are reported to be another team in the mix for his services. But, like the Hawks, that may be a plan b option as Hassan Whiteside is also a free agent.

Dwight could consider himself fortunate that he's still attracting strong interest from some of the league's better teams after enduring arguably the worst campaign of his 11-year career, where his averages dipped across the board. 

For his career, the three-time Defensive Player of the Year averages 17.8 points, 12.7 rebounds, and 2.1 blocks per game but those numbers dropped to 13.7ppg, 11.8rpg, and 1.6 blkpg this year. 

It was clear that the Rockets had chemistry problems both on and off the court throughout the year and Howard and James Harden's ability to play together, in particular, came into question on numerous occasions. 

The former Orlando Magic center will be seeking a max contract offer and it's likely to be his last big deal, he can't afford to get this one wrong. 

Topics:
NBA
Western Conference
Houston Rockets
Southwest Division
Dwight Howard
James Harden

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