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Houston Rockets going hard after Dwight Howard dream

Jul 13, 2012, 9:49 AM EDT

Dwight Howard AP

Rockets GM Daryl Morey is going all-in. He is pushing his chips in and trying to win the bracelet. Or in this case, the ring.

To win titles in the NBA you need to have a franchise anchor, a true superstar. Since 1980, one team has won a title without at least one of those kinds of players (2004 Pistons, and they had really good players). From Magic and Bird through Shaq up to LeBron James, you want a title you need a superstar.

Morey is going all out to get one in Dwight Howard. Even if it is just a one-year rental.

With the Nets out of the picture (for now), the Rockets are making their move to get Howard by being able to send Orlando picks, young players and to take back some terrible contracts from the Magic. On Friday the Rockets are expected to amnesty Luis Scola, clearing out more cap space. Chad Ford at ESPN lays out the offer the Rockets can then make the Magic.

Sources told that the Rockets, should they go ahead with their widely reported plans to release starting power forward Luis Scola via the NBA’s amnesty clause, are prepared to absorb the contracts of Jason Richardson, Glen Davis and Chris Duhon — in addition to sending Orlando multiple future first-round picks and recent draftees — to give the Magic an opportunity to wipe their payroll virtually clean for their post-Howard rebuilding effort….

Sources say that the Rockets would have to send Kevin Martin, Patrick Patterson, Marcus Morris and Chandler Parsons to the Magic from their current roster to make the salary-cap math work, as well the draft rights to Jeremy Lamb, Royce White and Terrence Jones, all selected in last month’s first round.

The Rockets, in addition, would also have to waive a handful of players with non-guaranteed contracts (Shaun Livingston, Courtney Fortson, Josh Harrellson, Jerome Jordan, Jon Leuer, Diamon Simpson and Greg Smith) to clear sufficient cap space. But Houston, sources say, is also offering multiple first-round picks to the Magic, including a potential lottery pick acquired this week from Toronto in the Kyle Lowry deal.

All of that to get Howard, who has said he would not re-sign in Houston and would become a free agent. It likely is a rent-a-Howard situation.

And it’s a good move — the Rockets have been stuck in the NBA’s safe and comfortable middle ground and need to get out of it. If they get Howard and keep him, they have their star and can build around him. If they fall short or if he comes then leaves, they struggle for a couple years but get high draft picks (not the middle of the road ones they had) and they get a star that way. Either way, they break out of their rut.

The one thing that could throw a kink in the plans is Omer Asik.

The Rockets have committed to a four-year, $25 million offer sheet to Asik, one that has not yet been given him but will be soon. (To say they would extend and offer then not would have huge repercussions with agents who don’t want to deal with a team that won’t keep its word.) The Rockets are expected to sign Jeremy Lin to an offer sheet Friday, which the Knicks will match over the weekend.

Then they will do the Asik sheet, and the Bulls may or may not match. Coach Tom Thibodeau has pushed to keep him and the entire roster together. The Bulls are high on young Asik. But owner Jerry Reinsdorf doesn’t want to be a regular tax payer and next summer they will have to extend or reach a new deal with Taj Gibson. And it’s a no brainer, if you have to choose between Asik and Gibson, Taj wins. So the Bulls could let Asik go to Chicago.

But clearly the Rockets don’t really want him anymore. They have set their targets on Dwight Howard and are doing everything they can to make an offer the Magic will take.

That will not happen over the weekend, reports are the Magic want to sit on it, but the Rockets are making their push.

  1. sabanissatan - Jul 13, 2012 at 11:39 AM

    PLEASEEEEE LET THIS HAPPEN! magic fans have been through enough garbage lately, it’s time for another team’s management to make bonehead trades

  2. magicbucs - Jul 13, 2012 at 11:48 AM

    Do it now magic! Send Dwight Coward to a team he doesn’t want to go to and get rid of 3-4 other awful Otis smith contracts and get back young players and a few 1st round picks!!! Do it now!!! Please!!!

  3. blueintown - Jul 13, 2012 at 11:57 AM

    What are the odds Houston is endeavoring to pursue something similar to the Heat model? They ship everything out for Howard and set it up to have multiple contracts coming off the books after his first year. At this point, what is Howard going to do? The Brooklyn thing is dead in the water, and he would leave millions on the table by walking away from Houston. He resigns, and they have all their cap space to chase after a guy like Harden and/or Ibaka (can you imagine a front line with Howard AND Ibaka? Yeesh). Texas – like Florida – has no state income tax, so the dollars go farther. Additionally, Houston is no slouch when it comes to markets (10th largest regional TV market, 4th largest municipality). Thoughts?

  4. fiyeaglesfiy - Jul 13, 2012 at 12:01 PM

    After seeing how the Nets were able to convince Deron Williams to stay when they mortgaged the future for a chance at keeping him and adding talent around him, I think the Rockets are looking to execute a similar strategy. They would be a bad team this year but year two, some of their bad contracts become expiring contracts (Turkoglu) which would then become more appealing to other teams or potentially bought out. The Rockets aren’t looking to contend this year, they wouldn’t with their current roster and they wouldn’t if this trade went through. But if they could then team Chris Paul with Dwight next summer, which is anything but a sure thing, then that makes it all worth it. Because just Dwight isn’t enough to make the Rockets a contender, they need to have a bigger plan.

    Additionally, I don’t blame the Rockets for pursuing Dwight over Bynum. While Bynum might be more likely to resign with Houston as of now, that too is a gamble, and I don’t think Bynum can attract a second star as well as Howard can. Well see.

  5. gmsalpha - Jul 13, 2012 at 12:18 PM

    As someone who is absolutely worn out over all of these Dwight Howard rumors and shenanigans, I am really hoping this trade happens TODAY. Get the words “Dwight Howard” off my computer screen, off ESPN and off the Sports Talk Radio shows.

    If I’m a Magic fan, this is a no-brainer, as it’s by far the best deal they’ve been offered. Even WITH D12, the Rockets are going to be a bad team, which means the first round draft picks sent Orlando’s way are going to actually be worth something. Quite possibly Top 5. You also have a pretty good chance of one of the 2012 draftees turning into a solid starting caliber player AND….AND you can get rid of Jason Richardson, Chris Duhon, and Big Baby’s contracts? You still have Turkoglu, but if you can rid yourself of 3 of the 4 worst contracts, you’ve done yourself a huge favor.

    If I’m a Rockets fan, I’m really disturbed. Howard is not going to sign an extension with Houston. What Morey is willing to give up for a rental is absurd. Yes, they’re a middling team, flirting with a low playoff seed each year. No, that’s not the kind of team anyone will get excited about and has a bleak future. But to blow it all up like this and set yourself back 3-5 years is hard to imagine. We don’t even know if Dwight’s back is going to be 100%. He’s a 3-time Defensive Player of the Year, and a freak of nature who can throw down like the best of them, but outside of dunks, he has no offensive game.

    Please just let this situation get resolved. Orlando would be wrong on so many levels to decline this deal, and Houston is wrong on so many levels to be offering this deal. But if it’s there, I’d love to see it happen just to end this fiasco.

    Unfortunately since Dwight will not re-sign in Houston, we’ll all be reading about his Free Agency again this time next year. .

    • badintent - Jul 13, 2012 at 1:27 PM

      Preach it brother !!!

    • florida727 - Jul 13, 2012 at 1:46 PM

      Could not be more accurate, and thorough. Great post, “gmsalpha”. Thanks.

    • Mr. Wright 212 - Jul 13, 2012 at 1:52 PM

      Why would he give up the 5th year and $30M? Morey is playing high stakes poker here and Howard will call that bluff.

    • seanbo55 - Jul 14, 2012 at 2:15 PM

      The big man is worth a lot but I think he took a hit this season

  6. rocketsbb - Jul 13, 2012 at 12:46 PM


  7. rocketsbb - Jul 13, 2012 at 12:50 PM

    Morey better not trade chandler and the new draftees we got, I seriously don’t know what’s he’s trying to do here, maybe get fired?

  8. kerby720 - Jul 13, 2012 at 12:58 PM

    This is nuts! Like everyone else has said, I’m not sure what Morey is thinking. I’m a Laker fan and I would make this offer to the Rockets.

    Bynum and Blake for Montiejunas, Martin (exp. contract), White, and Parsons.

    It would make the Rockets better, without having to gut their roster to add a bunch of bloated contracts. Plus it makes the Lakers younger, deeper, and more athletic.

  9. aldavis4president - Jul 13, 2012 at 12:59 PM

    I wouldn’t trade Parsons..hes gna a great player..everyone else I guess is expendable..the magic would be dumb to not take that offer…all young players with tons of potential.

  10. drex1 - Jul 13, 2012 at 1:19 PM

    Guess houston thinking even if howard leaves they will still have so much salary cap available they can get a cple of superstar FA’s nxt summer. CP3 would be one

  11. Mr. Wright 212 - Jul 13, 2012 at 1:19 PM


    It will be FITTING that they either don’t get Howard at all (because of the Asik deal, as you know Grunwald will be matching tomorrow afternoon and we keep Lin) or get him for six months, only to mortgage their next 4-5 years worth of picks in the process.

    Colangelo gets the same shaft for poison pilling us with that Fields nonsense, throwing a wrench in the deal to get Nash (it would have been Fields, not Shump, that would have gone in that deal had Colangelo not done that SMH).

  12. dylude - Jul 13, 2012 at 1:28 PM

    Hate to say “I told you so….”

    Wait no I don’t, I TOLD YOU SO.

    Lol the Rockets are bidding against themselves, no way they give up this much. Morey’s no fool.

  13. chadinkc30 - Jul 13, 2012 at 1:32 PM

    One year rental? You’re that desperate Houston?

  14. lookitsgreen - Jul 13, 2012 at 2:08 PM

    Yeah! “Let Asik go to Chicago” haha Kurt you joker

  15. dylude - Jul 13, 2012 at 2:09 PM

    Source says….

    HOU sends Kevin Martin / Patrick Patterson / Jon Leuer / J Jordan / Brockman / S Livingston / Jeremy Lamb (rights) / Terrence Jones (rights) / Toronto’s future 1st / Dallas’s future 1st

    Orlando sends Dwight Howard / Jason Richardson / Chris Duhon / 2 future 2nd round picks

    NBC Sports needs to hire me, I’ve been right on about this the entire time, east coast biased media has never been right on this because only Houston can offer real compensation.

  16. dylude - Jul 13, 2012 at 2:20 PM

    The non guaranteed contracts and diverse picks are what makes Houston the only team with a legitimate offer Orlando can accept.

    This way if Dwight stays and Houston becomes a top team, Orlando can still get a lottery pick from Toronto and Dallas isn’t going to be a top 10 team so that pick will be in the early 20s.

    This deal may not be able to happen right now, but I have it on good authority that this is the structure. Believe me or not, but I’ve been saying for over a week Nets never had a shot (without Cleveland) and this deal proves why. I’d rather have Toronto’s first pick than the Nets top picks when they have a dynasty. Easy call. This deal is happening.

  17. abasketballthing - Jul 13, 2012 at 2:46 PM

    This is awful for the Rockets. They can give up anything they want, but not future first round picks. If Dwight leaves, how are they going to rebuild if they don’t have a lottery pick every year?

    For Orlando, this is a no-brainer, and if Dwight leaves Houston, they will actually be the winners in this trade.

  18. thejmanproject - Jul 13, 2012 at 3:10 PM

    Here is Twitter reaction to the Rockets/Dwight Howard talks which will be the worst trade in sports history

  19. ch8878 - Jul 13, 2012 at 3:28 PM

    For the Magic doubt they can get any better deal then this I would have jumped all over this offer.

  20. ghelton03 - Jul 13, 2012 at 11:45 PM

    I think this a good move for Rockets. Their team needs to be blown up anyway. If they don’t get Howard, no big loss, they have cap space to build and picks. If they do get Howard but only for a year, they can negotiate a sign and trade and still get something. If they do get Howard and he stays they have cap space to build around him. Either way, they fastrack their rebuilding.

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