Dwight Howard, of course.
Chad Ford and Marc Stein of ESPN have hit us with this little nugget of information that has twitter and red nation going crazy, one way or the other: Upon hearing of Sunday night's developments, one rival general manager told ESPN.com that he believes Houston's real aim is acquiring two top-10 picks this week to turn around quickly and offer both to the Orlando Magic as part of a considerable trade offer for Dwight Howard.
Thoughts and more after the jump.
The duo also add some further analysis:
The Rockets' willingness to trade for Howard -- even without the All-Star center's signature on a contract extension -- is an open secret around the league. But it's believed that two top-eight picks, assuming Houston managed to complete trades with both Sacramento and Toronto, would seriously pique the interest of new Magic general manager Rob Hennigan, who could then quickly start following the same sort of roster-building blueprint relied on by his previous employers in Oklahoma City.
Acquiring those early lottery picks, though, only represents half of Houston's challenge if Howard is indeed the Rockets' target. The other hurdle is convincing Hennigan, who hasn't even been on the job for a week in Central Florida, to part with Howard so quickly. As much as he's been schooled in building through the draft while working alongside Thunder GM Sam Presti, Hennigan could opt to take a more measured approach, make one more run at trying to convince Howard to sign an extension before entering the final year of his contract and then trade him later in the summer if those efforts go nowhere.
Now it seems that 99% of the Rockets base believe that this would be a great move, if it comes to pass. With the 1% thinking that it is a desperate attempt at relevance to give up all future assets for a one-year rental. But to those who are already acting like this is a done deal, hold your horses.
This deal rests upon being able to not only complete one trade into the top 10 of a stacked draft, but two trades into the top 10 of a stacked draft. Then, convincing Rob Hennigan, the 30-year-old general manager of the Orlando Magic who was just hired, to trade their franchise player the first week on the job. That's a tall order.
But even if the deal is pulled off, is it really the best move for the franchise?
The group that says it's a good move state the reasoning that even if Howard walks at the end of the season, it's okay because Houston can officially begin to rebuild. Which I find folly, since you just gave up two top 10 picks, plus God knows what else, to get Howard here. Those kinds of picks and youth are imperative when rebuilding. No, this move would be a gamble that the team could lure someone else like Deron Williams here and convince Dwight to sign a long-term extension. And Daryl Morey seems ready to take that sort of risk.
The group that don't care for this move give not only the reasons above, but feel that if the team is able to move up in the draft for the number 5 (Sacramento) and 8 (Toronto) selections, you just keep them and build your team that way. Some other team from Oklahoma City following a similar blueprint. But after three years of spinning their wheels, it's understandable that Houston feels like it needs to make a big splash.
When the city seems to have more support for the lackluster Houston Astros than the Rockets, some noise needs to be made. We all know Les cares about getting butts in the seats down at Toyota and even if it's just for one year, Dwight Howard would probably do that. But is that really what it should be all about?
I realize I'm in the minority in being against this move, should it transpire, but I saw enough of Dwight Howard last year to expect him to post a lot of "DNP - Bad Back" on the official box scores next season when he is unhappy. That's not the kind of thing that I want to give away the foundation of a legitimate rebuild for.
But, again, I realize I'm in the minority. Rockets fans want a star so bad right now, I think they'd take a guy like Howard for a week. Getting him for a full season would be pure jubilation for them.