HOUSTON, June 29 (UPI) -- One former competitor claims that he "isn't serious enough when it counts," but Dwight Howard could soon, seriously be counting money.
But despite the bad rap, Howard will likely be one of the players taking advantage of the ballooning NBA salary cap this summer.
The 30-year-old center opted out of his deal with the Houston Rockets last week. He turned down the $23.2 million option, and is now rumored to be looking for close to $31 million from other suitors. He has granted meetings with the Boston Celtics and Atlanta Hawks, according to ESPN.
The Celtics have a $55 million budget for free agents. After trading away Jeff Teague, the Hawks have $20 million to $25 million in cap space. A max-deal for Howard could exceed $132 million for a four-year deal.
"Guys view Dwight as a guy that's still talented, but at this point is just kind of underachieving," Billups told Beck. "He still can go get a double-double. But I don't think he's viewed as winner at this point."
Howard averaged 13.7 points and 11.8 rebounds last season for the Rockets. The eight-time All-Star has had back issues and other questions about his health throughout the years.
#Rockets owner Leslie Alexander says Dwight Howard has chosen to opt out of his contract: "He exercised the right that he had."— Mark Berman (@MarkBermanFox26) June 21, 2016
Free agency begins at 12:01 a.m. on Friday morning. ESPN's Chris Broussard and Marc Stein reported that Howard is likely to "meet with as many as five teams in free agency." Sources told the duo that a return to Houston is "unlikely."
The Miami Heat are also a team that has been rumored to vie for Howard's services. Howard's points per game were his fewest since his rookie season in 2005.
The Rockets exited the Western Conference playoffs in the first round this season, falling to the Golden State Warriors in five games. Howard averaged 13.2 points and 14 rebounds in that series.