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The fight for Dwight
Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) - Remember playing the globe game when you were a kid?

I did it all the time. All you do is spin the globe and see where your finger lands when the globe stops spinning.

Usually it's some exotic place like the Mediterranean or Argentina. Or if you didn't spin it well enough, you might land on the Pacific Ocean or North Dakota.

Trust me, it's a fun way to pass the time when your PlayStation stops working.

Now it's Dwight Howard's turn to spin the globe.

Where will the All-Star center land when free agency begins on July 1st? Here are five places that Howard should definitely consider.

Atlanta: The Hawks are so eager to sign Howard that they're already acting like he's part of the team. A recent newsletter to potential ticket buyers mentioned both Howard and Clippers point guard Chris Paul by name.

Other teams shouldn't try this ... mostly because it's called tampering and it's illegal.

Howard went to high school at Southwest Atlanta Christian Academy, which is about a nine-minute drive from where the Hawks play at Philips Arena. A homecoming like that would be appealing to most people but Howard has said in the past that having friends and family close by could be a distraction.

I think Dwight would only go to Atlanta if he knew for sure that Paul or Josh Smith (a teammate of Howard's during their AAU days) would be joining him. That's asking a lot but the Hawks are one of the few teams in the NBA with the financial flexibility to make it happen.

Dallas: With Dirk Nowitzki at the tail end of his career, it might be time for Dallas to hand over the reigns to another superstar. That makes the 6-foot-11 Howard an obvious fit. He'd also be filling a huge need for the Mavericks.

With Chris Kaman as the starting center, the Mavericks finished near the bottom of the league in rebounding while giving up the fourth-most points in the NBA (101.7 ppg). As a defensive specialist, Howard would be able to remedy these deficiencies right away.

Mark Cuban has been salivating over Howard for years and the team should have enough cap room to give him a max contract (especially if O.J. Mayo signs elsewhere). Dallas won't be the favorite but they're definitely in the running to land Howard.

Golden State: The Warriors upped their chances of signing Howard by having a phenomenal run in the postseason, nearly making it to the conference finals as a six seed. Adding Howard to a roster that already includes Steph Curry, Klay Thompson and David Lee could push Golden State over the top.

Howard becomes even more enticing when you consider that Andrew Bogut is about to enter the final year of his contract and may not have a future in Golden State.

The question here is whether Howard is worth the baggage. Adding a prima donna to the mix would almost certainly alter the team's chemistry. The Warriors are already a good rebounding team without Howard (third in the NBA last season) and Dwight's awful free throw shooting could hurt the Warriors late in games.

It's an intriguing possibility but ultimately, I think Golden State would prefer to build around someone who isn't as high maintenance.

Houston: Houston is a legit contender for Howard. They actually tried to trade for him a year ago when he was still with the Magic.

The Rockets already have an excellent core in place with James Harden, Jeremy Lin and Chandler Parsons. Having a superstar in the middle will only help Houston's chances of winning a title.

Of course, Houston's master plan comes with a few drawbacks. Howard's primitive offensive game doesn't exactly mesh with the Rockets' up-tempo approach. Plus, Houston already has a defensive-oriented big man in Omer Asik.

The main reason for Houston signing Howard would be to increase ticket sales and to generate huge money in advertising and merchandise. Inking Howard to a mega-deal would accomplish all of that.

Los Angeles: You could argue that the Lakers need Howard more than anyone else. Steve Nash isn't what he used to be and Kobe Bryant hinted that he might retire after next season.

That leaves the Lakers with just Pau Gasol and Metta World Peace to build around. Doesn't exactly scream NBA Finals, does it?

Because Howard played for the Lakers this past season, L.A. can offer him more money than anyone else. A max deal for Howard could be worth as much as $118 million over five seasons. That would be pretty tough to walk away from.

Maybe Mike D'Antoni isn't the ideal coach for Howard but you do have to make certain sacrifices when you're playing a team sport. Howard would still be living in beautiful Southern California, playing for a franchise that is generally regarded as one of the best of all-time.

With Kobe on his way out, Howard would be the team's unquestioned go-to player. The title of "team leader" would go a long way toward massaging Howard's massive ego.

If money and power are as important to Dwight as I think they are, he has an excellent chance to stay in L.A.

We'll see where the globe lands on July 1st. Hopefully it's not North Dakota.




Comments? Criticism? Applause? Contact Jesse Pantuosco at jpantuosco@sportsnetwork.com.

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