Dwight Howard completed the sit-down-presentation portion of his
free-agency recruitment process Tuesday, adding Dallas and the Lakers to a
five-team list of possible destinations that already included Houston, Atlanta
and the Warriors.
"I can't talk," Howard told reporters in Beverly Hills as he exited his final talk with the Lakers. "I had a lot of great meetings."
Some in his camp believe the reliably vacillating center will announce his future home Friday, even though he can't actually sign a contract until the NBA moratorium ends next Wednesday.
The Warriors are considered the longest of longshots among the candidates, but the franchise seems happy to simply be part of the conversation for a prized free agent while realistic and affordable players are being nabbed off the market.
The Lakers can offer the most money -- $118 million over five years compared with nearly $88 million over four years from the other four teams. Houston can pair Howard with probably the best surrounding cast in James Harden, Chandler Parsons and Jeremy Lin.
Howard was born in Atlanta, and his family still has strong roots in the city. Dirk Nowitzki made it clear to the center Tuesday that he plans to take a pay cut in 2014, and the Mavericks could sign a stellar group behind marketing-genius owner Mark Cuban.
The Warriors might not be the best in any one of those facets, but they might be the best in a combination of all of them.
If it takes only Andrew Bogut and either Klay Thompson or Harrison Barnes to persuade the Lakers to make a sign-and-trade deal within the division -- something the Lakers have said doesn't interest them -- the Warriors still could offer a foundation of Howard, Stephen Curry, David Lee and either Barnes or Thompson.
Even without Bogut's contract, the Warriors could have as much as $24 million to spend in the summer of 2014. The presence of owner Peter Guber, a film executive, might partly offset the Lakers' Hollywood angle, and the Bay Area's large Asian American population might mitigate the hold Houston (thanks to Yao Ming) seems to have on the Asia market -- both are very important to Howard. Plus, the Warriors have the ultimate salesman in head coach Mark Jackson.
Bogut has heard all the rumors and even sent a joking tweet late Monday, asking where he should book his flight back to the states. But he isn't flying into LAX and isn't buying into the Warriors as contenders for Howard.
"I don't see why the Lakers would make that deal," Bogut said on the Back Page, a Fox Sports TV show in Australia. "There are better deals for the Lakers if they're looking at a sign-and-trade deal. I think it's less than 1 percent chance of going through.
"The NBA is a business, first and foremost. Every player is, at one time or another, going to be involved in trade rumors. It's nothing personal. ... I'm not giving any thought about being in a certain place when there's probably no chance of it happening."
While the Warriors play dark horse in the Howard race, they're missing options for their biggest needs: backup point guard and frontcourt depth. Point guard Jarrett Jack continued to have preliminary discussions with teams as C.J. Watson and Eric Maynor agreed to relatively affordable terms with Indiana and Washington. Power forward Carl Landry made progress with the Clippers as Martell Webster came off the board (Washington) and Antawn Jamison got closer with a couple of Eastern Conference teams.
Rusty Simmons is a San Francisco Chronicle staff writer. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org Twitter: @Rusty_SFChron
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