The Golden State Warriors, increasingly convinced they have a legitimate shot at winning the Dwight Howard sweepstakes, have begun aggressively attempting to trade away players to clear the requisite salary-cap space to sign the All-Star center, according to sources with knowledge of the team's thinking.

The Warriors were one of five teams granted the opportunity to recruit Howard in an in-person meeting this week. ESPN.com reported Wednesday that, in perhaps the first surprising development in the wake of those meetings, Warriors officials "made an impression" on Howard to the point that they had gained ground on the two teams -- the Houston Rockets and Dallas Mavericks -- widely presumed to have the only legitimate shot at stealing Howard away from the Lakers.

But Golden State's hopes of actually acquiring Howard always have been clouded by the fact they would need the Lakers to agree to a sign-and-trade.

The Lakers have been adamant for weeks they would prefer to let Howard leave for nothing and bank the resultant salary-cap space in the summer of 2014, with many rival executives likewise convinced that L.A. would have real reservations about helping Howard land with a division rival. So sources say that the Warriors, in an effort to manufacture some financial flexibility to help their chances, have begun calling teams with salary-cap space to try to entice them to take expiring contracts off their books so they can clear a $20 million hole for Howard.