Late last night, it was reported that Dwight Howard and the Rockets were finishing up a number of the final details of Howard's contract to join the Rockets. Now, we have those details. Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports is reporting that Howard will join the Rockets on a four year, $88 million deal that includes an opt-out after the third year and a 15% trade kicker.
Both of those clauses were expected as the Rockets were always going to give Howard everything he wanted in a contract, and essentially they allow Dwight to control his own fate as much as possible. With the trade kicker, his deal could become prohibitively expensive to move, allowing Dwight security to stay in Houston or compensation if he is traded.
The opt-out benefits Dwight on two levels. If he is successful in his first three years and enjoys Houston, he could opt-out in 2016 and sign a five year contract that makes this $88 million pact look like nothing. Without that opt-out, if Dwight was set to get another max contract after the third year but disappoints in the fourth, he could lose a boatload of money. Essentially, he's setting himself up for one last big payday in 2016, when he will still be just 30.
And on the other hand, if all doesn't go well in Houston, the opt-out gives Dwight an easy out after three years and can be used as leverage in as few as two years. So yes, if the Rockets struggle each of the next two years, Dwight could be holding the Rockets hostage with a trade demand in 2015. But let's not think about that now; let's enjoy this moment, hoping that Daryl Morey is working to get Joey Dorsey back into Rockets red.