Friday Rockets DreamLinks

Apr 07, 2012; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Orlando Magic center Dwight Howard (12) and Philadelphia 76ers forward Elton Brand (42) fight for position during the third quarter at the Wells Fargo Center. The Magic defeated the Sixers 88-82. Mandatory Credit: Howard Smith-US PRESSWIRE

In this segment, I'm going to take you through the noteworthy stories from the previous day, accompanied by a few of my daily musings. I promise I won't write about Dwight Howard tomorrow.

When the topic of the Dwight Howard trade talks comes up on The Dream Shake, the overwhelming sentiment seems to be that acquiring Andrew Bynum in a three-way trade with Los Angeles would be preferable to acquiring Dwight Howard for an enormous package. On many levels, this train of thought makes sense.

Howard has maintained through this process that the Rockets should not acquire him because would have no problem heading into Southern Oklahoma to join the Dallas Mavericks. In that scenario, the Rockets would be left with bad contracts, few draft picks, and even fewer young players. On the other hand, Andrew Bynum reportedly has at least a moderate interest in going to Houston, making it unlikely that he would turn down a max contract in the summer of 2013.

In spite of all that, it still appears as if Daryl Morey is making Dwight Howard his #1 priority, leaving Andrew Bynum discussions on the back-burner until any possibility of the Rockets' acquiring Howard is extinguished. In this post yesterday, I mentioned that Morey could simply flip Howard for Bynum if it becomes clear that Howard will not re-sign, giving the Rockets a semblance of an insurance policy.

Maybe there's more to the story. With Bynum, Jeremy Lin, Omer Asik and whatever young players remained, the Rockets could certainly build a consistent playoff squad. Add in a free agent or two, and you have a team that could challenge for home court advantage in the Western Conference.

On the other hand, with Dwight Howard, the team's ceiling is so much more than that. If the Rockets can convince Howard to take $25 million extra to stay in Houston, they will have one of the three or four most valuable players in the league under contract. That is a franchise changing move. Bynum is a great player in his own right, but the gap between All-Star and superstar is vast.

No matter what the reputation of Houston is, convincing Howard for the long-term would make the Rockets a landing spot for any available free agents. Given that the team would actually have the flexibility to sign one or two, the Rockets could build a long-term contender through that route.

Perhaps convincing Howard to stay in Houston is a fantasy in Morey's mind, but it also appears to be Morey shooting for the stars. After years of complaining about Morey's safe moves that appeared to keep the Rockets on the famed "treadmill of mediocrity," Rockets' fans should applaud this apparent gamble.

And now, jump for your daily links!

Asik Coverage

Ultimate Rockets " By Adding Asik, Lin, Team Has Its Building Blocks
This is a few days old, but Jonathan Feigen has some great quotes from Daryl Morey in this article.

Film Session: Omer Asik |
A look at Omer Asik's game over at Notice that he's guarding Dwight Howard, Al Jefferson, Roy Hibbert, and Zach Randolph in these videos, not bench scrubs like some fans would have you believe.

Schedule Time

Schedule Released, Rockets Get Christmas Day Game, Little Else - The Dream Shake
Mike Kerns has The Dream Shake's post on the Rockets' schedule here. Take a look if you haven't already.

Ten Noteworthy, Not-So-Obvious Games To Watch In The 2012-13 Season | Ball Don't Lie - Yahoo! Sports
Eric Freeman has the story on a few interesting games for the 2012-13 season. The Rockets get a mention for a game you'd probably expect to see on a list like this.

Miscellaneous Rockets Stuff

Rockets Sign 2012 First-Round Draft Picks |
All of the Rockets rookies are now officially signed. Count them out of trade negotiations for 30 days.

NBA PM: Rockets Have Flexibility for Howard | HOOPSWORLD
Eric Pincus does a good job of illustrating that the Rockets can really take on any contract they want to from the Magic.

Houston Tops Our List Of America's Coolest Cities To Live - Forbes
Morey has already emailed this link to Dwight Howard's agent.

Around The League

While CBA Cramps Some Teams, Cuban Learns How To Rebuild Mavericks -
Ken Berger's story on Mark Cuban's new approach to managing the salary cap. Without Looking, Guess Which Seven Teams Have Never Paid The Luxury Tax
Mark Deeks has an interesting spreadsheet here on the history of the luxury tax.

Mavs’ Position In Dwight Howard Derby | The Point Forward
Zach Lowe has the story on why the Mavericks would have to do some serious trimming to be able to fit Dwight Howard into their payroll.

Last Night's SportsCenter Featured A Dwight Howard Story Plagiarized Word-For-Word From
Timothy Burke has the story on the Worldwide Leader's latest gaffe.

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