ORLANDO, FL - MARCH 13: Dwight Howard #12 of the Orlando Magic walks off the court during the game against the Miami Heat at Amway Center on March 13, 2012 in Orlando, Florida. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Sam Greenwood/Getty Images)
It was a fun few days of speculation on the Rockets' chances to trade for Dwight Howard and sign him up for the long-term. At least in the eyes of David Aldridge's NBA sources (a group of people who have no motivation to misrepresent the truth in any way), that speculation should be put to rest.
According to Aldridge, there is "not a chance" that Dwight Howard stays after the 2012-13 season in Houston if he's traded to the Rockets this summer. Here's an excerpt of the story:
Amid a report that stated the Houston Rockets are hoping to amass enough trade assets to make a deal with the Orlando Magic for Dwight Howard-even though Howard would only be in Houston for one season before becoming an unrestricted free agent in the summer of 2013 - a source with knowledge of Howard's thinking said Monday that there was "not a chance" Howard would be persuaded to remain in Houston if traded there, and would leave next summer to sign elsewhere.
Obviously, the Rockets shouldn't make this deal then, right? There's no reason to acquire a player who would be gone in 12 months, right? *follows rest of script the Dwight Howard camp faxed over*
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It's a natural reaction to allow this to stop or at least slow down the Howard to the Rockets discussion, and perhaps Howard's lack of interest in the Rockets will give Daryl Morey pause before going down that road. After all, Dwight Howard changed his mind and decided to opt into his deal just as the Rockets were the "one team left" and were closing in on a deal for him at the trade deadline.
Call me crazy, but I don't think this affects much for the Rockets. In all trade discussions dealing with Howard, Daryl Morey and the Rockets were always facing an uphill battle to keep Dwight here for the long term. Perhaps Deron Williams decides to come along, and perhaps Howard is so taken with the city that he decides to stay and build something here.
A closer look at the context of this "leak" leads me to believe that serious skepticism is warranted. Firstly, anything that Howard says or his camp relays to the media has to be taken with a grain of salt as Howard's position during this ordeal has been about as consistent as Carmelo Anthony's defensive effort.
The second, and much more important source of skepticism, is that this report came out just a few days before the draft, as the Rockets were reportedly close to completing deals for draft picks to send to Orlando for Howard. When Dwight Howard opted into his contract at the trade deadline, he lost control of where he would be playing this season. This appears to be his camp's not-so-subtle attempt to grab the leverage back and force a trade to
New Jersey Brooklyn.
The benefit of a trade to Brooklyn are clear; the trade would allow Deron Williams and Howard to build a championship contender in the city of their choosing while making as much money as possible. If he's traded to Houston, Howard would either be forced to wait a year and sacrifice serious money to go to Brooklyn, or stay in a city that is not his first choice.
In the end, all the Dwight Howard to the Rockets talk boils down to one thing: Howard is a sure-fire star in this league and a game changing presence the Rockets have lacked for half a decade. Even if it means running the risk of Howard's premature departure, you have to believe that Morey is going to go for it. Because why not?