The Houston Rockets still have big plans. Like Dwight Howard-sized plans.
After pulling off a series of trades with the Phoenix Suns and Sacramento Kings, the Rockets have essentially been left with a potential star in rookie Thomas Robinson and a rekindled (reaffirmed?) hope of acquiring Howard.
No, the Los Angeles Lakers aren’t going to trade their big man to Houston before the trade deadline. This is about free agency over the summer.
Pulling the trigger on these trades has created even more cap space for a team that was set to have $20 million worth of room in the first place.
While general manager Daryl Morey and company are thought to be high on Robinson, Ric Bucher of NBC Sports reports that their actions also had plenty to do with pursuing Howard during the offseason:
Source: Rockets have not abandoned their hope of landing Dwight Howard and the deals made today, which could clear
even more cap room for Houston, are part of a plan to continue their pursuit of him. Nothing will happen before Thursday, but this summer is a different story. The question still remains: will DH change his mind about playing there? The success of James Harden in particular, and the Rockets in general, certainly can’t hurt.
Even prior to this accord, if I had to pick, I would have labeled the Rockets the Lakers’ biggest threat to losing Howard. Cases could be made for both the Atlanta Hawks and Dallas Mavericks, but Atlanta embodies mediocrity while Dallas is more than a Dwight Howard short of title contention.
The Rockets, though, have real potential as is. Not only do they have a bona fide star in James Harden, but two budding prospects in Chandler Parsons and now Robinson. That they’ve created enough room to make some moves in addition to signing Howard only makes them a more attractive destination.
Honestly and truthfully, I still see Howard re-upping with Los Angeles when the dust settles. Not just because the Lakers can offer him roughly $30 million more than any team, but because they play in a flashier market and, let’s face it, their résumé speaks for itself.
With that said, I won’t hesitate to maintain Houston is a threat—a real threat. After completing a deal like this, the Rockets are poised to make a serious push for Howard in free agency and I’m of the mind that he’ll seriously listen.
Will it be enough to ultimately pry Howard away from the Lakers?
I still say no. But it’s more than enough to ensure that those in purple and gold are left sweating it out until Howard crowns the victor in what has become a race of two.
Dan Favale is a firm believer in the three-pointer as well as the notion that defense doesn’t always win championships. His musings can be found at Bleacherreport.com in addition to TheHoopDoctors.com. Follow @danfavale on Twitter for his latest posts and all things NBA.