1:57pm: Howard will stay with the Rockets, ending weeks of speculation of him getting traded, according to Adrian Wojnarowski of The Vertical on Yahoo Sports (Twitter link).
11:07am: There is a strong belief from Howard’s camp that he will not be traded before today’s deadline, according to Ken Berger of CBS Sports.
7:44am: The Rockets and agent Dan Fegan are hard at work to find a new team for Dwight Howard, reports Frank Isola of the New York Daily News (Twitter link). Houston is prioritizing its pursuit of a Howard trade over serious talks with the Jazz on a Ty Lawson/Trey Burke swap, though no favorite to acquire Howard has emerged, tweets Marc Stein of ESPN.com. Most executives from teams aside from the Rockets were saying as of Wednesday that a deal involving Howard was unlikely, according to Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle (Twitter link).
Houston turned down an offer of Al Jefferson and Spencer Hawes from the Hornets, league sources tell Isola, and little chance exists of those teams doing a Howard deal unless Houston’s demands come down markedly, as Rick Bonnell of the Charlotte Observer hears (Twitter links). The Rockets called the Cavs to offer Howard, but Cleveland didn’t bite, according to Sam Amico of Amico Hoops (on Twitter).
The Celtics, Heat, Hawks and Raptors have also reportedly spoken with the Rockets about Howard, at least on a cursory level, though Houston has apparently been underwhelmed with the proposals it’s hearing. One GM told TNT’s David Aldridge he doesn’t think the Rockets want to end up with Howard still on the roster after the 2pm Central time deadline (Twitter link), which suggests Houston will bring its asking price in line with the market.
Salary concerns complicate any Howard trade. He’s making more than $22.359MM this season, but a 15% trade kicker in Howard’s contract means teams would have to match salaries based on a $22,970,500 figure for him. The Rockets are also less than $1MM shy of a hard cap of $88.74MM, so they have sharply limited flexibility. The Rockets and others expect Howard to turn down his more than $23.282MM player option and hit free agency this summer.