FRIDAY, 9:55am: The talk with other teams is more a matter of due diligence than not, Rockets sources tell ESPN’s Chris Broussard, who spoke in an appearance on ESPN Radio’s “Mike & Mike” show (audio link). One NBA GM tells Broussard that the Rockets have been gauging interest in him for about a month but have been surprised that no team has put forth an overwhelming offer.
3:08pm: The Raptors showed no interest when the Rockets reached out to them about Howard, league sources tell Grantland’s Zach Lowe (Twitter link).
2:41pm: Neither Howard nor Fegan has asked the Rockets for a trade, Fegan said in a statement to Marc Stein of ESPN.com (ESPN Now link). The agent also said that he isn’t privy to what the Rockets are doing, which would seem to counter the idea that they were working together.
THURSDAY, 1:25pm: The Rockets have engaged teams in trade talk about Dwight Howard and are working with agent Dan Fegan to find a new home for the former All-Star center who intends to opt out of his contract this summer, reports Adrian Wojnarowski of The Vertical on Yahoo Sports. Uncertainty surrounding whether either side wants to continue their partnership has prompted Houston to take action, Wojnarowski writes, noting that Howard is still expected to seek a max deal starting at a projected $29.3MM salary for next season once he turns down his roughly $23.282MM option.
Howard becomes the most significant name on the trade market, though the 30-year-old’s game isn’t what it used to be. He makes more than $22.359MM this season, a difficult salary to match for, and a 15% trade kicker worth about $600K further complicates the matter, as The Vertical’s Bobby Marks notes (on Twitter). Houston would have to pay him that amount in the event of a trade, but it would count as part of Howard’s incoming salary for whichever team would acquire him.
Howard, James Harden and GM Daryl Morey had an extended chat after Houston’s loss to Portland Wednesday, one that dropped the Rockets to ninth in the Western Conference, as Brian Windhorst of ESPN said in an appearance on ESPN Radio’s “Mike & Mike” show (audio link), and as RealGM transcribes. Interim coach J.B. Bickerstaff was also involved, according to Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle, who notes that Howard made comments about the rest of the season with the Rockets (Twitter link), a hint that he doesn’t expect to be traded. Howard and Harden have no personal qualms, The Vertical’s Chris Mannix tweets, countering earlier reports, which Howard and the Rockets vehemently denied, that Howard was dissatisfied playing a secondary role to Harden.
The Celtics reportedly had a brief exchange with the Rockets about Howard within the past few weeks, but Houston’s asking price has been high, as Mannix reported earlier this month. Steve Bulpett of the Boston Herald wrote then that the Rockets had made efforts to trade Howard, even if the Celtics talk didn’t go anywhere.
What should the Rockets seek in return for Howard? Leave a comment to share your thoughts.