Report: Rockets, confident to sign Dwight Howard, make Lin, Asik available in trades

Two of these guys are on the trade block, two are making the pitch to Dwight. - Scott Halleran

The Rockets are so confident in their Dwight Howard pursuit that they are offering Jeremy Lin and Omer Asik up in trades, writes Ken Berger.

Just minutes after the report dropped that the Rockets had traded Thomas Robinson to the Trail Blazers for two picks and two international prospects, Ken Berger of CBS Sports put out an interesting story detailing the Rockets' confidence to land Dwight Howard.

Here's what he had to say:

Emboldened by their pursuit of free agent Dwight Howard, the Rockets have called several teams and made Omer Asik and Jeremy Lin available in potential trades, league sources told CBSSports.com.

The Rockets are oozing with confidence that they will lure Howard from the Lakers, and are making contingency plans to construct the team around him.

"They already have him, if you talk to them," one league source said.

If the Rockets land Howard, Asik would become expendable. One potential destination that rival executives have identified is Philadelphia, where former Rockets executive Sam Hinkie is the Sixers' new general manager.

Rival teams say the Rockets are making Lin available, as well, though they'd have to get a starting point guard in return. As part of their cap-clearing maneuvers to land Howard, Houston waived Aaron Brooks and Carlos Delfino on Sunday. The Rockets are off the hook for Delfino's $3 million salary, which was non-guaranteed.

Teams believe the Rockets will move both Asik and Lin if they close the deal with Howard this week. Lin, whose acquisition last summer was heralded as a coup, was not invited to Houston's pitch meeting with Howard, sources said.

So, uh, that escalated quickly. We heard murmurs a few days ago from Mark Deeks that the Rockets were looking to move Lin, but there was nothing about confidence in landing Howard or moving Asik. It's worth noting that neither are involved in the Dwight Howard meeting that everyone and their mother got invited to.

Moving Lin and Asik would open up a ton of doors for the Rockets, bringing other top free agents into play and allowing the Rockets to fill their gaping hole at power forward, but this all seems a little bit premature. Obviously, the Rockets are just making plans for the possibility that they sign Howard, but the cockiness from the front office described in the article sounds nothing like the Rockets front office.

Morey has big time guts, but he is anything but cocky. This is the guy that didn't believe the reports that the Knicks would let Lin go until the time period expired on their offer matching window. Now, dealing with possibly the most unpredictable free agent in the league, they "already have him"?

The fact of the matter is that if the Rockets believe they already have Howard, they either are kidding themselves or Dan Fegan has given them some very strong indications that Howard will sign in Houston. I'm inclined to believe that the report was an exaggeration, because there isn't a soul out there, Dwight included, that knows where he will go in the next week.

Regardless, it's an interesting report and promises to lead to some interesting discussion amongst the armchair GM's of the world. I wouldn't be surprised to see the ESPN Trade Machine break in the next few weeks.

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