HOUSTON (CBSMiami) – The Miami Heat is not going to be a major player on the free agent market that opened up at midnight Monday. When you’re the champs, you can get away with sitting out the big spending.
But, the market for the top names in free agency fired up quickly and the name at the top of most lists is center Dwight Howard. The mercurial and often immature big man is not expected to return to the Los Angeles Lakers meaning some team is going to be very happy in about 10 days.
Howard made the first stop on his free agency tour in Houston, which traded away multiple players to have a shot at landing the center. Houston brought out legends Hakeem Olajuwon and Yao Ming to help sell Howard on the city.
Houston offers Howard shooting guard James Harden, small forward Chandler Parsons, and other players to give Dwight one of the best shots at winning a title, if that’s his ultimate goal. Houston is also trying to shed more salary to give themselves room to add others besides Howard.
Howard’s other suitors include the Dallas Mavericks, Atlanta Hawks, and possibly the Golden State Warriors.
Elsewhere in free agency, Josh Smith is likely leaving the Atlanta Hawks and about to land a huge payday, possibly from the Detroit Pistons. Smith would join a front line that includes Eugene Monroe and Andre Drummond.
The worst team in basketball, the Charlotte Bobcats, are reportedly looking at making an offer to former Utah Jazz forward/center Al Jefferson, according to CBSSports.com. The Bobcats would pair Jefferson with first-round draft pick Tyler Zeller in hopes of developing a quality frontline.
New Orleans, fresh off acquiring point guard Jrue Holiday from the Philadelphia 76ers, is also reportedly looking at making a free agent offer to Tyreke Evans to play alongside Holliday and last year’s first-round draft pick, power forward Anthony Davis.
The Brooklyn Nets, who have gone all-in on a championship or bust run this season, also are set to acquire shooter Kyle Korver in free agency. Korver will join a team that includes: Brook Lopez, Deron Williams, Paul Pierce, and Kevin Garnett.
Brooklyn’s biggest problem may be finding enough bench players to fill out the roster who are capable of giving the starting five a break.
Finally, the one free agent who could be the biggest mystery is center Andrew Bynum. He was arguably the best center in the league two years ago, but didn’t play a game last year due to a chronic knee problem.
Bynum has also said he won’t work out for teams as a free agent either, according to multiple reports. Philadelphia won’t re-sign Bynum, so the big question will be which team will take a flyer on the seven-foot center and will that gamble actually pay off.