The Rockets have a lot of problems.
One of them is Dwight Howard.
Howard plans to opt out this summer, and he could command a max contract. Does Houston want to pay the 30-year-old center that much?
That question has become increasingly essential as Houston – losers of three straight and six of eight – has sunk out of playoff position. If Howard can’t help the Rockets achieve anything of note this season, determining his place past this season takes priority.
On that note…
Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports:
The Houston Rockets have started contacting teams about trading eight-time All-Star Dwight Howard, league sources told The Vertical.
The Rockets are working with Howard’s agent, Dan Fegan, on possible destinations, league executives told The Vertical.
Working with Fegan is imperative. Because Howard can become an unrestricted free agent, teams will fear him walking in free agency and propose trades to the Rockets accordingly. That could sink Howard’s value below the threshold where Houston would trade him.
But Howard and Fegan can assure certain teams Howard would re-sign, which would make Howard more valuable to them – and boost their trade offers. The NBA forbids under-the-table agreements, but these discussions happen.
Teams could also look at Howard as a rest-of-season rental, but it’s tough to find win-now teams that need a center. And again, it’s less likely a team would value Howard as a rental enough to appease the Rockets’ trade demands.
For Howard, this could be a chance to secure a larger contract. His max projects to be about $170 million over five years if he re-signs or $128 million over four years elsewhere. Ideally for him, he’ll finish the season with a team he wants to re-sign with.
Is that Houston? He’s reportedly unhappy taking a backseat to James Harden, though he denies it. The Rockets’ dismal record certainly doesn’t engender confidence from anyone.
The Celtics and Rockets reportedly talked Howard trade, and the notion Houston won’t trade Howard looks outdated.
It’ll still take multiple sides to make a deal happen – the Rockets, a trade partner and, depending on the details, probably Howard. Those are a lot of hurdles.
But it seems Houston is ready to try clearing them.