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The Dwight Howard trade demand/opt-out saga is only getting more convoluted

Dwight Howard is back in the middle of controversy, but reiterates that he wants to be in Houston and enjoys playing alongside James Harden. But for how long?

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Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

As we mentioned here yesterday, Dwight Howard once again has found himself smack dab in the middle of another he said/he didn't say situation in regards to his happiness with the team he's on.

To recap, Chris Sheridan of insists that Howard wants out of H-town, much in the same way he wanted out of Orlando and Los Angeles when things didn't go precisely his way. Dwight then counters by calling the reports "lies," while Sheridan continues to stand by his story and sources, and suddenly we have the early makings of Dwightmare Part 4, The Revenge on our hands (step aside Star Wars).

It's not surprising then, that others have followed up on this story in the hopes to uncover the fire emanating underneath the smoke signals billowing over Houston. But Howard has steadfastly stood his ground, telling Sam Amick of USA Today Sports:

"I chose to go to Houston. So why would I just say, 'I'm not happy,' and leave? I chose this place, you know what I'm saying? And I want to make this thing work here.

"Obviously we haven't been playing great basketball, and personally for myself, my numbers don't seem like I've been playing great, but the only thing on my mind is trying to grow as a man and grow as a teammate and a leader. All the BS that's around, sometimes it's frustrating to hear it, because I know who I am as a man, and I know what I'm trying to do for this city."

Howard also addressed the rumors of a strained relationship with fellow Rockets superstar James Harden, telling Amick:

"People can say what they want about me and James and that whole situation, but I came here and the biggest reason was because of him. Because I want both of us to grow and be great basketball players and be great teammates together.

"It's on us to do it. We are the ones who are held accountable for for the good things and the bad things that happen to this team, and I came here with that mission, so that both of us could grow.

"We've got to make it work, you know what I'm saying? And it takes time, but I'm going to do whatever I can to help it grow and just be whatever he needs me to be. To be there for him. That's my mission.

"...It starts with me and him. We've got to push each other. We've got to talk to each other. We've just got to be better together. That's why I'm here, so it's going to happen. But right now, we're struggling.

Okay, well, fair enough. So it sounds like Howard's in it for the long haul, right?

Not so fast.

Amick is also reporting the Rockets fully expect Dwight to opt out at the end of the season, and are preparing as such. It is expected that Howard will seek one final max deal to close out his career, which means the numbers for Dwight jump up to $31.1 million from the $23.2 million he is currently making.

Are the Rockets prepared to drop that kind of coin for an aging player that has yet to get them over the hump? That's a lot of money for 12 points, 12 boards and a block per night. And if not, wouldn't it make sense to trade him now, while they can still get something of value for him? It sure seems like it.

But Amick is also reporting that the Rockets see Dwight as part of their long-term agenda and have no plans on moving him this season.

Confused yet? Me too.

For his part, Dwight vows to be here this season, while still acknowledging there's a great journey into the mystery otherwise known as unprecedented NBA spending on the horizon for next season.

"I came here, and it's a mission to make this team a championship team. There's always going to be rumors, and I don't know what's going to happen at the end of the summer, but right now and since I've been here, the only mission is to help this team win a championship."

Sounds like Dwightmare 4 has only just gotten through its first act and there's a lot of story left yet to be written. Stay tuned.