4:46pm: The Rockets have indeed engaged in trade talks with teams regarding Howard, but the asking price is reportedly very steep and Houston is not merely looking to dump him, Chris Mannix of The Vertical on Yahoo Sports tweets.
2:55pm: The teams never really had a negotiation, multiple league sources told Steve Bulpett of the Boston Herald, who explains that the trade proposal quickly died after a brief exchange. Still, the Rockets have made efforts to trade Howard, Bulpett hears.
10:37am: The talks aren’t expected to progress past the discussion phase, a league source tells A. Sherrod Blakely of CSNNE.com. Blakely suggests the Celtics would have to include David Lee, plus additional players, draft assets, or both to make any Howard trade work. Boston has reportedly made Lee available and the Celtics and Lee’s representatives are cooperating as they explore trade options for him, Blakely adds.
7:58am: The Celtics have engaged the Rockets in trade talks about Dwight Howard, as Frank Isola of the New York Daily News reports amid a larger piece. It’s unclear how receptive Houston has been to the idea of trading the former All-Star center or how aggressively Boston is pursuing him. The 30-year-old Howard has a player option worth more than $23.282MM for next season, but the Rockets reportedly expect him to turn it down, no surprise given that he’d be eligible for a maximum salary of a projected $29.3MM in free agency.
Howard has been relatively healthy this season after missing 41 games last year and has been regularly playing in back-to-backs after having been held out of them at the beginning of the season. Still, he’s averaging 14.4 points on 8.6 shots per game, his lowest numbers in either categories since he was a 19-year-old rookie in 2004/05. His 1.6 blocks per game are relatively low compared to the number of shots he swatted in years past, including a career-high 2.9 in 2008/09, but he’d still represent the sort of rim-protecting force the Celtics have lacked.
The Dan Fegan client, along with others on the Rockets, denied a report in December that he’s “extremely unhappy” with his role in Houston. Gauging his level of contentment in either Houston or with a would-be trade to Boston would undoubtedly be key if the trade discussions reach any advanced stage, since he can walk as a free agent at season’s end.
The Celtics and Rockets both have a surplus of point guards and power forwards, so it’s difficult to see how the sides could help each other in a swap. Still, Rockets GM Daryl Morey used to work under Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge, so it’s not surprising to see them have a dialogue.
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