Report: if Rockets don’t land Howard they may chase Josh Smith

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UPDATE 5:01 pm: Talking on Houston Radio today, they said this may not be a plan to have a fallback for Dwight Howard so much as to unite Howard and Smith — offer the Hawks a sign-and-trade with Omer Asik and other pieces or contracts the Rockets want to unload. The Hawks might take that.

I still think that is a terrible idea. Whether Howard likes it or not. Smith is only effective close to the basket but he has a propensity to take jump shots outside that range, all the way out to the three point line. With Howard in the post Smith will have more reason to act like a stretch four and not play to his strengths. Let me be blunt — Smith doesn’t help make this team a contender. Despite his gifts. But that’s a scenario.

10:01 am: This year’s NBA free agent class has Chris Paul, Dwight Howard, and then a big drop off in quality.

Who is probably the third best player available? Josh Smith.

That’s who the Rockets met with on Monday and they were very up front with him, reports Marc Spears at Yahoo Sports.

The Houston Rockets told Atlanta Hawks free-agent forward Josh Smith during their meeting Monday in Los Angeles that they will make him a contract offer if they don’t sign Los Angeles Lakers free-agent center Dwight Howard, a league source told Yahoo! Sports.

Smith understood the Rockets’ position and wasn’t offended. Smith hasn’t met with the Atlanta Hawks, who could pursue a sign-and-trade deal to get something in return for him.

The Pistons have been the team most expected to make a run at Smith. That makes little sense either, unless Joe Dumar’s goal is to stunt the growth of the front court of Greg Monroe and Andre Drummond.

For the Rockets, I don’t like this move. Smith is not a guy the Rockets can pair with James Harden and be contenders — Smith’s penchant for taking jumpers he doesn’t make renders him far less effective. He is also not the consistent defensive and rebounding force a healthy Howard is.

If the Rockets lose out on Howard, they are better off holding on to their money, making short term deals and awaiting the next trade of free agent opportunity for a real franchise anchor guy. Don’t settle. Being patient sucks as a fan, but sometimes it is the best course of action.