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Rockets don’t have enough cap room to give Dwight Howard a max contract

Jul 5, 2013, 7:12 AM EDT

Houston Rockets Patrick Beverly attempts to steal the ball from Los Angeles Lakers Dwight Howard during their NBA basketball game in Los Angeles

The Rockets do not have enough cap room to give Dwight Howard a max contract.

They could waive all four of their players with fully unguaranteed contracts – Greg Smith, Patrick Beverley,Tim Ohlbrecht and James Anderson – and they still wouldn’t have enough cap room.

If Howard chooses Houston, perhaps as early as today, the Rockets will either have to convince him to take less money or do some wheeling and dealing.

Howard’s contract can start at $20,513,178 next season, regardless of which team signs him, and it wouldn’t be difficult for the Rockets to clear that much cap room. Waiving Greg Smith, Patrick Beverley,Tim Ohlbrecht and James Anderson and using the stretch provision on Royce White would do the trick. That seems less than ideal, but if it meant getting Howard, I’m sure Darryl Morey would do it in a heartbeat.

However, Howard can’t officially sign until July 10. So, if he commits to the Rockets before then, they’d have a little time to clear space.

Dumping Ohlbrecht and Anderson probably wouldn’t be an issue, but Smith and Beverly have value. Houston could trade any two-man combination of Smith, Beverly, White, Terrence Jonesand Donatas Motiejunas except Beverly-Smith and Beverly-Motiejunas for future draft picks or unsigned second rounders, and that would clear enough room to give Howard a max contract.

Bigger moves – perhaps involving Jeremy Lin and/or Omer Asik – are also possible, but trading two lesser-paid players is probably the simplest route to getting Howard his max contract.

Of course, if Howard picks the Rockets, he’ll certainly talk about Houston’s chances to win a championship. Would he give up money to increase those odds? Beverly, Smith and even White could contribute to a winning team.

If the Rockets waive only Ohlbrecht and Anderson, they could still offer Howard a four-year, $87,591,270 contract. With his full maximum from a team besides the Lakers, Howard could get $82,059,635 – so he’d be sacrificing $5,531,635.

Still, that would be minimal compared to the at least $28,821,015 he’d be giving up by signing with any team besides the Lakers, who can offer larger annual raises and a fifth guaranteed season.*

*I think it’s slightly disingenuous to compare the amount Howard would be losing by leaving Los Angeles in terms of five versus four years. Though there’s certainly no guarantee, it’s likely Howard can get another max contract after this one. So, if he leaves the Lakers and gets max contracts both this summer and following this one, he’d be giving up just $4,374,435 during the next five years.

Anyway, back to the present. If Howard agrees to sign with the Rockets, that means at least one of two things: He’s taking less than a maximum contract and/or Houston has more moves in store.

  1. loubearkane - Jul 5, 2013 at 10:24 AM

    Asik & Lin’s deal balloon to 14-15 million each next year , that’s the poison pill put in to get the Knicks & Bulls to not match the offers. The surely was a poison pill for HOU.

    • egterrell - Jul 5, 2013 at 10:43 AM

      People like u irk me not knowin facts….it was called a poisin pill because only if the bulls,or knicks match the deal they would have to pay 15 millions in the final year…but since they did nog matcj the rockets on and every othet team on has to pay the base which is 8 million per year on the three year deal so research before u speak

    • aboogy123456 - Jul 5, 2013 at 10:44 AM

      They actually “only” get paid $8.4 million each for the next two years. I think they were able to renegotiate the contract so there was less poison because the knicks and bulls chose not to match. You should check out sham sports, they do a good job giving you the picture of teams’ salary cap situation.

      • egterrell - Jul 5, 2013 at 10:46 AM


      • loubearkane - Jul 5, 2013 at 11:02 AM

        Incorrect they each will make 5+ Million this year and close to 15 Million next year they just prorated there CAP HITS over the contract

      • rileyfree - Jul 5, 2013 at 9:20 PM

        Those balloon payments only applied to the Knicks and Bulls.

    • rohlo - Jul 5, 2013 at 12:17 PM

      no they dont baloon to 15 million..that was only the poison pill if the bulls and knicks matched the offer..they each only make 8.5 mil next year..the rockets arent gonna give themselves a poison pill… i LMAO at so many people posting c r a p without doing the research!

      • egterrell - Jul 5, 2013 at 12:46 PM

        Thanks he doesnt understan,it

  2. barkley4life - Jul 5, 2013 at 10:32 AM

    Thats why the Asik and Lin contracts are appealling. Those are huge expiring contracts within 2 years. So you are getting young players that you can keep long term if they improve or fit your system and if they dont you lop almost 15-20% off your cap if you let them walk. Asik’s deal in particular is definitely worth it if Splitter gets 9 million Asik has more upside is much better big man and is only 25 I believe.

    • loubearkane - Jul 5, 2013 at 11:03 AM

      Splitter wasn’t worth 9 a year and Asik isn’t worth what HOU payed and neither is Lin

      • biasedhomer - Jul 5, 2013 at 11:11 AM

        Actually, both Splitter and Asik are worth what they got.

        Newsflash: Starting big men in the NBA make around $10M.

      • loubearkane - Jul 5, 2013 at 11:13 AM

        Name a NBA team that won a championship that has a rotational big making 9-10 million?

      • bougin89 - Jul 5, 2013 at 11:58 AM

        Asik, a 27 year old, excellent 7 foot defensive center who also averaged a double-double in 30 mpg isn’t worth the contract he got?

        I’m guessing your favorite players are high volume, low efficiency shooting guards? Asik could easily get traded next year as an expiring contract that could also really help someone(ie final piece to the puzzle) if need be.

      • casualcommenter - Jul 5, 2013 at 1:31 PM

        “Name a NBA team that won a championship that has a rotational big making 9-10 million?”

        Asik is a “starting” Big.

        Plenty of NBA teams have won championships with a starting big earning $10+ million.

        Tim Duncan’s Spurs, Shaq’s Lakers, etc.

        Your comments on Asik would be more informed if you actually watched some games in which he played. If you had, you’d know he’s no longer a backup like he was in Chicago, and is in fact a starting center who averages 30-35 minutes per game…Not a “rotational big.”

      • biasedhomer - Jul 5, 2013 at 1:31 PM

        You can’t compare salaries from today to years ago. Players are making more and more every year.

        And big men are very valued in the NBA, which you don’t seem to understand. Thats why you see so many bigs drafted high only based on their size. Nobody reaches for guards and small forwards.

  3. bellerophon30 - Jul 5, 2013 at 10:40 AM

    It would have been nice if the author had mentioned the “Texas doesn’t have a state income tax” part of the whole scenario. But I guess that would have blunted the headline.

    So yes they can offer a max deal, in terms of net dollars.

    • aboogy123456 - Jul 5, 2013 at 10:46 AM

      It would have been nice if you mentioned the difference in marketing dollars in LA versus Houston, but you only mentioned tax as if that’s the only thing that affects how much money he makes.

      • bellerophon30 - Jul 5, 2013 at 10:51 AM

        Yeah, because living in Cleveland impacted how many marketing dollars LeBron made for 7 years. And living in OKC doesn’t seem to be hurting Kevin Durant much.

      • aboogy123456 - Jul 5, 2013 at 11:00 AM

        How do you know it doesn’t seem to be hurting kevin durant that much? Yea he made $60 million from nike but how do you know that he could not make $100 million? Are you some kind of marketing expert?

        It’s such a horribly thought out argument if you only mention tax dollars and you don’t mention how much more he could make in marketing. Kobe made something like $25 million in marketing dollars alone last year, so marketing dollars does account for a large part of a superstar’s salary. Derrick Rose signed a $250 million contract with Adidas and he plays in a great market, do you think he would sign the same contract in OKC? It’s possible that lebron could have made more if he played in new york, but you’re the expert right? You can argue that Dwight should leave LA, but get your head out of your behind and understand that just because someone is rich, it doesn’t mean they can’t be more rich.

      • riles123 - Jul 5, 2013 at 12:15 PM

        How about you mention the difference between marketing dollars in LA versus Houston and China? Oh yeah, Rockets most watched team in China, over 300 million Rockets viewers there… oops.

      • rileyfree - Jul 5, 2013 at 9:23 PM

        You neglected to mention the Rockets have a HUGE Asian fan base with the Yao Ming and Jeremy Lin factors.

    • loubearkane - Jul 5, 2013 at 11:05 AM

      The no state tax doesn’t help the fact that he would have to LIVE IN TEXAS

      • bellerophon30 - Jul 5, 2013 at 11:38 AM

        First, ease off on the hostility dude. This is only sports.

        And I’m not advocating that Dwight leave LA, I only really care because the situation is entertaining. And a nice warm-up for next summer when LeBron decisions again. Basketball-wise the best situation for Dwight right now is Houston, given their lineup, smart GM, their smart GM (it was worth typing twice). Long-term……well the Lakers are known for pulling rabbits out of hats when it comes to personnel, though the new salary cap and luxury tax rules might inhibit that.

        For money…….well only Dwight really knows that. The post was about a max contract offer, not marketing, that’s where you took it. Of course he should make more money in LA, but at what point is all of that Monopoly money for these guys? Only Dwight knows that, where that line is. He should do what’s going to make him happiest, and I hope he does.

      • loubearkane - Jul 5, 2013 at 11:49 AM

        Texas thing was a joke and not a fan of HOU , GSW , LA or DAL.
        Morey was smart with the James Harden move but not sure about the moves since. I think Lin was a marketing move and I like Asik but not for that money. If the Howard circus comes to HOU is the act going to get old with Harden? I think you build around a talent like Harden. What Lakers can sell is there the Lakers and have almost no one under contract after next year and can build around him.
        He makes any of the four better , if I was Morey I would need some assurances from him and a ETO after year two you did too much to get Harden.

      • loubearkane - Jul 5, 2013 at 11:50 AM

        I don’t think Dwight knows what’s going to make him happiest.

      • aboogy123456 - Jul 5, 2013 at 12:02 PM

        ok sorry for misreading your post. I do have strong feelings about where Dwight would sign, but it’s hard to know what that guy is thinking. If he doesn’t know at this point where he should go, then I don’t know what one extra day of thinking will do. I agree I hope he does go where it makes him happy, but I also hope he chooses soon because this is driving me crazy!

  4. loubearkane - Jul 5, 2013 at 10:48 AM

    If HOU for conversation sake doesn’t land Howard do you think Josh Smith will improve the team? Morey made a genius deal getting Harden but then ended up gutting the team to try and land Howard. If Howard goes to GSW , HOU would be better off saving the cap room and target Paul George or Chris Bosh next year.

    • biasedhomer - Jul 5, 2013 at 11:12 AM

      Golden State has even less of a chance to land Howard than the Rockets.

      • loubearkane - Jul 5, 2013 at 11:16 AM

        How do you figure if they can sign & trade either Thompson/Barnes & Bogut. The problem is your GM has put all of it’s eggs in the Howard basket and if it doesn’t happen you will over pay Josh Smith who has a good post game but problem is he shot 230+ 3’s last year.

      • loubearkane - Jul 5, 2013 at 11:17 AM

        I said conversation sake as in whats plan B

    • rohlo - Jul 5, 2013 at 12:22 PM

      you call waiving delfino and brooks ,and then a player who was a non factor and didnt play in the team anyways they traded in robinson… the rockets didnt gut themselves!!!!!!!!!

    • rohlo - Jul 5, 2013 at 12:23 PM

      he llllll no to bosh.. guy is soft and not worth a max contract!!!!

    • biasedhomer - Jul 5, 2013 at 1:29 PM

      I’m not even a Rockets fan, it seems like you are completely biased against the Rockets.

      For starters, Asik has more trade value than any of the expirings on GS.
      And for GS to get rid of one of those bad contracts, they are going to have to add a pick or a player like Thompson or Barnes, which I doubt they would be willing to do.

    • rileyfree - Jul 5, 2013 at 9:32 PM

      Gutting the team? Did you watch the Rockets play last year? The Rockets have Harden and Parsons as they’re core on the youngest team in the NBA. When Howard signs they Keep Harden, Parsons, and still have Lin (if not traded) as they’re PG. Jettisoning Aaron Brooks, Royce (gave them nothing) White, Francisco Garcia, Carlos Delfino, Thomas Robinson, and trading Asik, a #1, and TJones or DMotiejunas for Josh Howard is not gutting the team.


      TJones or Dmo
      Greg Smith
      2 Free Agent wing men

      That’s a better team than they had this year.

      • rileyfree - Jul 5, 2013 at 9:34 PM

        LOL. Josh SMITH.

  5. loubearkane - Jul 5, 2013 at 11:35 AM

    $ 58.5 salary cap Hou has $39.5 in active contracts

    • rohlo - Jul 5, 2013 at 12:30 PM

      the rockets owner has come out and said he is gonna go into the luxury tax if he has to.. his claim is he is ready to spend the money neccesary to get back to the top.. guy is loaded!!!

  6. madsk1lls - Jul 5, 2013 at 11:39 AM

    I can smell the butt hurt is strong! Face it, the fact is Houston gives D12 the the best chance for multiple championships whether or not any of you clowns like the 3rd largest city in the nation. Love how you try to factor in endorsements like he needs the money. Lol The “writer” never mentions what Hou cap is currently after the robinson trade. WHY U MAD BRO?

    • Kurt Helin - Jul 7, 2013 at 3:44 PM

      This did include the Robinson trade, as you know by now the Rockets have to make another move. They will but this is accurate.

  7. sportsnut101 - Jul 5, 2013 at 12:19 PM

    Asik played awesome this yr no1 knew what to expect Asik n combo of picks n or those players would do the trick for any team looking for tough play n def rebounder Any contract is movable if u wanna win just ask joe Johnson crazy contract

    So Houston will have no problem moving asik. It’s Lin that’s the problem he needs Asian market honestly for trade to have value. Sure he’s due 20 mill total over 2 yrs but if he plays well he will make that team 40 mill in marketing n merchandise

  8. rohlo - Jul 5, 2013 at 12:28 PM

    from what i have read the teams willing to take any of the 3 players the warriors are trying to clear teams like the sixers want thompson or barnes in the deal to take on the contracts… so what makes the warriors attractive they have to get rid of to acquirre howard.. leave it to dwight to make it all so complicated… the smart choice is the rockets based on their roster which beat hte warriors 3 of 4 games last season. curry is a great player,but to me harden,parsons,asik and co are much better and the rockets have alot of depth and young players tha are good as well… he trains at olajuwons personal gym in the offseason as well… its all a no brainer ,but as i said dwight is making an easy slam dunk look like one of his freethrows

  9. antihypocritz - Jul 5, 2013 at 1:48 PM

    Asik & Lin are both owed $8.4 million of each of the next two seasons.

  10. antihypocritz - Jul 5, 2013 at 1:58 PM

    loubearkane – Jul 5, 2013 at 11:13 AM
    Name a NBA team that won a championship that has a rotational big making 9-10 million?

    The Mavericks in 2011 paying Chandler $12.6 mil is the closest.

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