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D12 News & Notes: Lakers leaning against any potential sign-and-trade

The Clippers do the Rockets a favor by finding out the Lakers' distaste for any sign-and-trade deal. Owner Les Alexander is willing to pay the luxury tax to build a title contender.

Lakers leaning against any sign-and-trade deals
Lakers leaning against any sign-and-trade deals
Jayne Kamin-Oncea-US PRESSWIRE

In recognition of Father's Day, here's the "Father Stats" on the NBA's biggest name free agents.

Dwight Howard: 1
Chris Paul: 2

The center of attention in the NBA shifted in the last twenty-four hours to the Los Angeles Clippers.

The Clippers are rumored to be involved in a 32 team trade sending every player and coach in the NBA to the Clippers' side of the Staples Center.

Ok, that's not true. But, the Clippers did throw a day-long wrinkle in the pursuit of Dwight Howard and/or Chris Paul.

This is good news: The Houston Rockets want every non-Rockets scenario to rise and collapse before free agency begins on July 1st.

The Rockets front office wants every outlandish scenario off the table before free agency starts on July 1st.

Daryl Morey does not want to lose a week of free agency waiting for CP3 and D12 to realize no one in the league is capable of assuming two max contracts without putting a clown car of league minimum contracts on the bench.

Every season in every major sport there's a team who develops a laser focus on a single big free agent and end up getting stiffed. Paging 2012 Dallas Mavericks: Free agency is fresh out of Deron Williams, sorry.

The Rockets won't fall in this trap. Daryl Morey is too well prepared and his big brainy head is physically too large for any commercially available pair of blinders.

Here's what's happened in the last 24 hours:

Lakers Leaning Against A Sign-and-Trade

ESPN's Marc Stein dropped half a dozen reports on us this morning which can be interpreted almost any direction you want.

The Lakers are going to keep all their options open, but these passages are huge for the Rockets:

"Sources say they (The Lakers) are indeed leaning against sign-and-trade scenarios because they'd rather bank the resultant cap space from Howard's departure for the summer of 2014.

"sources maintain that the Lakers' main priority this offseason -- besides re-signing Howard -- is getting their financial house in order. Which is why the overriding expectation persists that L.A. will rebuff sign-and-trade proposals to simply bank the cap space for the summer of 2014 if Howard bolts."

If acquiring Dwight Howard is a sure thing, the Rockets front office probably wants to avoid a sign-and-trade.

Marc Stein's article reminds the Lakers to expect a sign-and-trade offer for Dwight Howard from the Rockets. The two names most likely to be included in such an offer are Jeremy Lin and Omer Asik.

But the Lakers need to clean cap space to have any chance of flexibility once they get breathing room in the Summer of 2014 (Pau and Kobe both come off the books). Lin and Asik are both on the books until the Summer of 2015.

SB Nation's Kevin Zimmerman drops some Laker knowledge on us:

"Taking on those would hamper the Lakers' ability to sit tight with a core of Steve Nash, Pau Gasol and a recovering Kobe Bryant in 2013-14 while waiting for a big-name free agent summer in 2014.

"For example, Houston would probably include eitherJeremy Lin or Omer Asik to the Lakers in a Howard sign-and-trade package. While both are conceptually nice pieces, adding them to an already-problematic luxury tax wouldn't help in the longterm."

Worth Noting: Any Chris Paul & Dwight Howard scenario would require a sign-and-trade.

Clippers Update

The sign-and-trade idea bleeds over to the Clippers-Celtics talk from yesterday.
Check out our partners at Clips Nation for a full description of how the Clippers - Celtics deal fell apart yesterday.

Here's the biggest Rockets-relevant Clippers news from yesterday:

The news for Rockets fans: The Blake Griffin for Dwight Howard sign-and-trade idea didn't get any legs in Laker land.

There's a million reasons why they were not publicly considering this offer, but it's good for Rockets fans to see the Lakers shooting down sign-and-trade offers for Dwight.

Les Alexander: I Ain't Scrooge McDuck'n Over Here

That's not a direct quote.

Rockets owner Les Alexander did deliver some clutch lines in this morning's Houston Chronicle about a willingness to open his subterranean gold filled swimming pool:

"I would be thrilled to pay a tax if we have a championship-caliber team," Alexander said. "Obviously, you have to get the players to pay the taxes. You have to get great players; otherwise, you're just spinning your wheels."

"I have enough money, but I don't have enough championships."

The synopsis: Alexander is willing to spend to build a title contender.

This shouldn't come as a surprise. The Rockets aren't playing Oakland style moneyball. Alexander wrote checks for a $70 million team when that was the league standard.

Alexander's comments are a marker to the rest of the league: Take our dual-track pursuit of Dwight Howard and Chris Paul seriously. We're willing to go there.

It's farfetched to consider the Rockets will create much, if any, luxury tax pain for Alexander. It would require at least one max-deal. Daryl Morey has been expecting another max-deal from the moment he signed James Harden, so he's prepared to play within the cap. Paul & Howard or Howard and free agent additions could get us the Rockets there.

Omer Asik & Field Goal Percentage:

ESPN Insider is hosting a story from ESPN The Magazine on Omer Asik. I missed the article. After all, there's a standard two month delay between publish date and barbershop waiting area delivery.

The article delves into a familiar subject for Rockets fans, shot selection.

The article makes the point that Kevin Garnett is a better shooter than Omer Asik -- We agree.

Asik still has a higher field goal percentage because he takes a higher volume of shots closer to the basket. There's clearly a lower degree of difficulty with those shots. At the rim Asik shoots 60.5% while Garnett shoots 77%.

Asik's club, the analytically devoted Rockets, ranked just 15th in the NBA this season in field goal percentage at the basket, 23rd in shooting from three to 23 feet away and eighth in three-point accuracy. Yet Houston was in the top 10 in the NBA in overall shooting percentage because 73.9 percent of the Rockets' attempts were either at the rim or from downtown, by far the most in the league.

There's your Dwight Howard fix for the day.

He's also still voicing a turkey in an animated movie.