“I was basically playing with a torn MCL and meniscus,” Howard said. “I never said anything about it. I tried to cover it up saying it was a sore knee. But I was in pain the rest of the series. I just looked at it like, man, you just never know if you will ever make it back to this moment. So just sacrifice your mind, your body and your spirit for your teammates and the city and hope for the best.”
The Rockets intend to utilize second year big man Clint Capela in a larger role in an effort to reduce Howard’s workload this season. In the summer of 2013, Howard signed a four-year, max contract that includes a player option after this season. The health of his knee, along with the level of his play this season, could determine whether he decides to turn down his option, worth slightly more than $23.28MM, and enter free agency in 2016.
Here’s more from the Western Conference:
- Lang Greene of Basketball Insiders opines that Kevin Martin is a prime candidate to be traded after the Wolves announced that sophomore Zach LaVine will be the team’s starting shooting guard. Martin has two years and slightly over $14.46MM remaining on his current deal and Greene believes if Minnesota wanted to move him, there would be teams willing to bring the veteran aboard at that price.
- Although Markieff Morris declared that he wants to remain in Phoenix, the Suns could ultimately end up dealing the forward anyway, Greene opines in the same piece. Morris is on a team-friendly deal that will pay him $32MM over the next four seasons and if he has a good start to the season, more than a few teams should be interested in acquiring him.
- After losing LaMarcus Aldridge to the Spurs in free agency, many are not optimistic about the Blazers‘ chances of making playoffs, but statistician Kevin Pelton of ESPN.com argues that competing for a playoff spot is not out of the question, Cody Sharett of NBA.com writes. Pelton cited the additions of Ed Davis, Mason Plumlee and Al-Farouq Aminu, who have all shined in terms of advanced statistics, as reason for optimism.