Houston Rockets center Dwight Howard did the expected Tuesday and declined his $23.2 million player option for 2016-17, according to Yahoo Sports.
Howard will become a free agent July 1, and even though $23.2 million may seem like a lot of money to turn down for a 30-year-old who is coming off a career-worst season, Howard remains one of the best -- if not the best -- traditional center in the league and will hit free agency at a time when the salary cap is ballooning for all 30 teams.
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Howard averaged 13.7 points and 11.8 rebounds last season for the Rockets. The 13.7 points were the lowest since his 2004-05 rookie year, and the 11.8 rebounds were better than only his rookie numbers and the 10.5 he averaged in 2014-15. In his prime with the Orlando Magic, Howard was an explosive force who was almost a given to average 20 and 14 from 2007 until he left the Magic after the 2012 season.
After one year with the Lakers and three with the Rockets, the Magic are among the teams flush with cap money whose bidding will almost certainly push Howard's next contract past the $23.3 million he just turned down.