Are the Warriors the Rockets biggest threat to sign Dwight Howard as Lakers ponder sign-and-trade?

Ronald Martinez

The Warriors have tried to make a number of big moves to clear cap space for Dwight Howard. Will they pass up the Rockets and land Dwight?

As Dwight Howard nears a decision on where he will be playing basketball for the next four to five years, the Lakers have apparently begun to face reality and may have changed their stance on sign-and-trade deals. According to Ramona Shelburne and Marc Stein of ESPN.com, the Lakers are willing to "look at everything" if Howard decides that he will not re-sign with the Lakers.

This shift, Shelburne and Stein write, comes from a growing pessimism among the Lakers camp that Howard would want to stay in Los Angeles and play for Mike D'Antoni and alongside Kobe Bryant. That move could open the door to the Golden State Warriors.

The Warriors have been gaining traction over the past few days as a legitimate contender to snatch away Howard, but the issue of the salary cap had always held them back from joining the true contenders for Dwight. In their article, Shelburne and Stein discuss why:

The Rockets and the Mavericks, in that order, have been generally regarded as the biggest threats to steal away Howard, but the Warriors have increasingly been tipped by sources close to the process as a threat coming up fast on the outside. That's despite the Warriors' apparent salary-cap limitations and a sentiment stemming largely from a Monday sitdown that, as ESPN.com later reported, made an undeniable "impression" on Howard.

Tonight, however, with word that the Lakers might be open to a sign-and-trade and the reports discussing how the Warriors might dump money if unable to agree on a sign-and-trade with LA, they may have jumped back in the game on that front.

Even though it would be tough to land Howard, you get the sense that the Warriors could make it work if Howard indicated that that was his preference. After all, to get spectacular players you sometimes need to make spectacular changes.

With time ticking down on this Dwightmare, Rockets fans have to hope that their pitch made enough of a difference to keep Howard from getting too interested in the Warriors. At this point, only Dwight knows.

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