The city of Los Angeles is known for its star power when it comes to basketball and two of the brightest in town have the possibility of leaving in the summer, as both Chris Paul and Dwight Howard are set to become free agents and could end up bolting elsewhere.
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The Houston Rockets appear to be a strong possibility, as the Houston Chronicle reports that Howard is interested in joining the franchise as a free agent. Daryl Morey is ready to go after him to bring in another piece with Jeremy Lin and James Harden and Howard could be the final part of what could be a championship puzzle.
While the Clippers appear confident that Paul will remain in Los Angeles, the point guard has said that he has not made a decision yet and after the team was eliminated by the Grizzlies in the playoffs he planned on taking a break. Paul has enjoyed his time with the Clippers and led them to their greatest heights in years after winning the Pacific division and VP Gary Sacks said that he was confident the point guard would re-sign with the team.
One reason that Paul could end up back with the Clippers is due to the collective bargaining rules that allow the team to give him the best contract offer at five-years and over $100 million and that could be what's in the cards after he rejected a three-year and $60 million extension before last season. The team has a good core with Blake Griffin and they want to keep Paul as part of the core, which is why the Clippers number one priority in the offseason is to bring him back. Griffin is already signed for the long-term after agreeing to a five-year, $95 million contract last year and the Clippers really don't have another option but to try and keep Paul, as he is one of the best players in the entire NBA.
The Clippers were far better than their Staples Center neighbors in the Lakers after going 56-26 on the year and Paul and Griffin are expected to keep that up for years to come. The Lakers have their own star to lock up in Howard and after the way things went in LA this season it is a real possibility that he could sign with the Rockets or Mavericks or even the Nets. Howard had a messy divorce with the Magic and he will take his time to decide and the way he finished his final game with the Lakers this past season was no prize either as he was ejected in Game 4 against the San Antonio Spurs.
The most likely landing spots for Howard include the Rockets and Nets, but the Lakers are still going to make a hard push for him to return and they want him to follow in the footsteps of past big men like Shaq and Kareem Abdul Jabar. The Lakers were swept by the San Antonio Spurs after making it into the playoffs as the seventh seed and the team will be without star Kobe Bryant for at least part of the season after he suffered a serious Achilles injury.