Josh Smith, Carlos Boozer and other prominent names have surfaced in trade rumors the past few days, but as Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle details, Rockets GM Daryl Morey isn't willing to make a deal before the deadline if it precludes the team from seeking marquee talent in free agency.
"Except if something unexpected comes along, someone signed that is very good and wants to be moved, we plan to keep our flexibility as an available destination for whatever free agent is available in July," the GM said.
Morey didn't rule out a minor move like last year's deadline deal that brought in Marcus Camby, as long as it doesn't compromise the team's summer plans. The Rockets have about $40MM in commitments for next season, which should be enough room to sign a maximum-salary free agent. Chris Broussard of ESPN.com reported this week that the Rockets are interested in Dwight Howard and, if they miss out on him, Andrew Bynum, both of whom will be free agents this summer. Reports have also linked Houston to Smith, who could be had either at the deadline or in the offseason.
As Feigen notes, James Harden continues to make a recruiting pitches to other stars around the league, but declines to name just whom he's been talking to. Harden would probably run afoul of the league's tampering rules if he did divulge any names, but, having signed a five-year extension that will keep him in Houston through the 2017/18 season, it's clear he wants the team to bring in more talent around him. The Rockets, tied with the Jazz for seventh place in the Western Conference, have a two-game lead on the Blazers for the last playoff spot, and Harden believes making the postseason would be a key in attracting free agents as well.