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Report: As expected, Dwight Howard opts out of $23.1 million with Houston, is free agent

Minnesota Timberwolves v Houston Rockets

HOUSTON, TX - MARCH 18: Dwight Howard #12 of the Houston Rockets waits on the court during their game against the Minnesota Timberwolves at the Toyota Center on March 18, 2016 in Houston, Texas. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Scott Halleran/Getty Images)

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Almost everyone around the NBA expected Dwight Howard to opt out of his contract with Houston — then when the Rockets hired Mike D’Antoni as their new head coach it became a mortal lock.

It was just a matter of time. Now it’s happened reports Shams Charania of The Vertical at Yahoo Sports.

Howard averaged 13.7 points a game on only 8.5 shot attempts per game (the fewest since his rookie season) and added 11.8 rebounds a night. He played good defense, although not at the pre back surgery levels.

Howard wants a max contract, which will start at $30.8 million for him (with the projected salary cap of $94 million).

At least half the people reading that last sentence shook their heads and said, “no way.” But I bet he gets it, or something close. What concerns more some teams more than the money is the years — he has a history of back problems and is now on the wrong side of 30. He’s been playing through pain for years (and some years missing a lot of games). I can’t see any GM locking him in for four guaranteed years, one that goes three likely can land him (with a team option for the last year). Plenty of teams likely steer clear of him entirely once July 1 opens. Dallas is among the teams reportedly interested in Howard.