It's been an interesting week since it was announced that the Rockets were fielding offers for Dwight Howard.
There's been initial speculation involving the Boston Celtics, followed by later speculation involving the Miami Heat, and of course, a plethora of fan ideas ranging from "Hmm..." to "no freaking way."
But as we drift ever so closer to the deadline, it appears the Rockets may end up moving forward with Howard on the roster after all, with ESPN's Zach Lowe reporting just today that there's been "little interest" in the 30-year-old center:
"Houston has been making calls on him for two weeks, but the Rockets have found very little interest, per several league sources. Howard is 30, declining and about to enter free agency as the cap spikes to around $92 million -- the new estimate lots of teams are using after the league initially projected and $89 million ceiling for next season."
Lowe goes on to mention Toronto and Boston as two of the main teams the Rockets have contacted about procuring Howard's services, and their interest is characterized as "zippo". Teams just aren't willing to pay the Rockets' steep asking price that likely includes at least one first round draft pick in addition to players for what boils down to half a season of Howard, along with his Bird Rights.
Sure, the team with those rights has a leg up in free agency over the summer, but if Houston isn't able to get a suitable trade package back for Howard - which seems to be the most likely scenario here-- they could hedge their bets on Howard's Bird Rights in the offseason themselves:
"If Houston anticipates a cool July market for Howard, those Bird Rights might be the reason the Rockets keep him: an edge in re-signing him in July might be more valuable than the best offer they get today."
With the trade market for Dwight so cool, and the chatter around the league that no one's really interested in offering Howard a max deal when he hits free agency, holding on to D-12 may end up as the most prudent move for the Rockets from a pure value standpoint. But there's one caveat: do they really want him back?
There's also been more recent rumors about Harden and Howard expressing how much they dislike playing with each other, and this situation with Dwight could end up being less about obtaining full perceived value and more about salvaging the obviously broken team chemistry in whatever way possible.
For his part, James Harden insists he and Howard have vowed "to make this thing work," though his qualifier of "we have no other choice" isn't exactly confidence-instilling.
Lowe does go on to name some of the teams the Rockets could make a potential trade work with, listing the Miami Heat, New Orleans Pelicans, and the Washington Wizards as the most likely trade partners, though with the news today that Chris Bosh could have a potentially career-threatening medical issue, the Heat are probably out of the running now as well.
As possible Howard suitors continue to fall by the wayside as we move closer to Friday's deadline, the questions of intrigue will change from those centered around these potential trade packages to if Houston even wants Howard back in Rockets red at all.
If they do, the Rockets still have a major chemistry problem. If they don't, the current situation in H-town surrounding the Rockets' two superstars is more toxic than we could have imagined.