TUESDAY, 10:01am: While Howard is the Rockets' top trade target, the team could pursue Josh Smith or other big-name players if a deal can't be consummated with the Magic, tweets ESPN.com's Marc Stein.
MONDAY, 8:05am: Chad Ford and Marc Stein of ESPN.com reported last night that the Rockets have engaged in trade discussions with teams in the top 10 in the draft, including the Kings (No. 5) and the Raptors (No. 8). In their initial report, Ford and Stein suggested Andre Drummond had caught the Rockets' eye, and was the target in any deal. However, a rival GM told the ESPN scribes that he believes Houston's real goal is to land Dwight Howard.
According to the GM, the Rockets are trying to acquire not just one but two top-10 picks, in the hopes of pursuing the Magic superstar, who they'd be willing to trade for even without a long-term guarantee. If Houston was able to land the fifth and eighth overall picks, it's believed that a package centered around those picks would "seriously pique the interest" of new Magic GM Rob Hennigan.
Tom Ziller of SBNation.com explores the trade rumors, speculating that an offer of just Kyle Lowry should be enough to land the Raptors' No. 8 pick, while a combination of the Rockets' two first-rounders (Nos. 14 and 16) and a player could interest the Kings. The ESPN report cited Moe Harkless and John Henson as a couple of draft prospects who have drawn interest from Sacramento — both prospects are probably a reach at No. 5, but I'm not sure they'll slip to No. 14.
As Ford and Stein write, trading Howard on or before draft night would be a huge commitment for Henningan, who has only been on the job a few days. He may prefer to take a more measured approach, after working under Sam Presti in Oklahoma City, but the new Magic GM doesn't seem to be shy about making changes right away. According to the Orlando Sentinel, Hennigan has already parted ways with longtime assistant GM Dave Twardzik and six scouts.