According to multiple reports, including the first one from USA Today's Sam Amick this afternoon, Dwight Howard has picked Houston in his great free-agent sweepstakes.

Big deal? Bored with it, are you Wolves fans?

You shouldn't be.

Howard's decision means NBA general managers will ignite the phone lines again after things went relatively quiet these last couple days while everybody awaited for Howard's word.

Now, Flip Saunders probably can move forward with more moves to clear some salary space up so he can get rid one of one (or more) of six point guards and add a defensive-minded swingman.

One to watch for: Trading J.J. Barea back to Dallas, where he helped the Mavericks win the 2011 NBA title before signing a big four-year deal with the Wolves as a free agent.

The Mavericks' roster is a disaster -- except for cap space now -- while they targeted Howard and now that they got the ol' Heisman, Mark Cuban in a tweet late this afternoon said his team is back open for business.

The Wolves likely would trade Barea, if they could, for a draft pick or picks and in return receive a valuable trade exception matching Barea's $4.7 million salary that they could add to the kitty to clear enough space to make at least one or two more significant moves.

If they can clear enough space, they could go in trade or by signing a guy who can defend on the wing, such as Philadelphia's Evan Turner or Washington's Trevor Ariza, both of whom probably are very available, or by bringing back Andrei Kirilenko.

If Barea goes, you've got to believe the Wolves will keep Luke Ridnour as their backup point guard, right? If not, then maybe Ridnour gets dealt to Milwaukee or another destination instead.

Meanwhile, expect the bidding for Wolves restricted free agent Nikola Pekovic to heat up, if it's going to heat up.

There's no guarantee, though, that any of the teams refused by Howard -- the Mavs, the Lakers, Hawks or Warriors -- will turn their attention to Pek instead now.

The Rockets now might be forced to trade center Omer Asik, who would be a better defender and cheaper than Pekovic for the Wolves. But it's unlikely the Wolves have the assets to get Asik, who'll be pursued by a number of teams if the Rockets put him on the market.

One possible deal is a sign-and-trade that'd send Asik to Atlanta and bring back Josh Smith to put beside Howard.

The clock is ticking toward July 10, when the moratorium ends and NBA teams finally can officially sign free agents and make trades.


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