Despite various reports all season long that Dwight Howard wants out of Houston and that the Rockets could very well move him before the February 18th deadline, including one just yesterday morning from NBA.com's (and former Houston Chronicle writer) Fran Blinebury, the Rockets actually have no intention of moving the big man, according to ESPN's Calvin Watkins and Mark Stein.
In fact, not only do the Rockets not plan on moving D-12, they also plan on re-signing him in the offseason after he opts out, a move which Dwight appears to favor, according to sources:
"...Howard, for his part, does not want to be traded, and hopes he can indeed finish the season in Houston before entering into his own negotiations with the Rockets."
In addition, the Rockets will apparently make a hard run at Kevin Durant in the summer as well in the hopes of creating a devastating Big Three in H-town.
Watkins and Stein report that sources inside the Rockets organization feel they just may have the inside track to signing Durant due to his friendship with James Harden and the Rockets' ability and willingness to offer him a max deal while still being to able to retain Howard.
The upcoming salary cap increase will surely open up Durant's services and contract demands to a plethora of NBA squads, but not many can group the superstar with two other all-world talents like the Rockets can. Not even staying with the Thunder could present such an opportunity. While Russell Westbrook's talent is a given, Serge Ibaka appears to have plateaued and possibly even regressed from his peak two seasons ago.
In addition, there's no guarantee Westbrook even stays with the Thunder beyond the end of his current deal, which runs through the 2017 season. It's certainly feasible that even if Durant re-signs in Oklahoma City, Westbrook jumps ship to greener pastures a year later, which is something KD will definitely consider during his upcoming free agency decision.
It's one of the reasons the Rockets feel they have an advantage if the they throw their hat into the ring. Harden is signed through 2018, and a shiny, new contract for Howard would likely have him with the team beyond that.
Sure, there'd be concerns if the Rockets' plan comes to fruition. Will Harden be willing to cede a chunk of the scoring to KD? How will Durant react the first time Harden over-dribbles into a 24-second violation? How would Dwight handle getting even less touches than he gets right now?
But those are problems and issues for another day. For now, it's fun to think of the possibilities if the Rockets can pull this off, and it's reassuring to hear that Howard wants to be back. He even addressed the recent rumors published by the Daily News that he's being chased by the Boston Celtics, telling Watkins and Stein:
"I didn't say it, what can I do? There's nothing I can say. Teams are going to say what they have to say. I don't know."
It's undoubtedly been a roller coaster season for the Rockets as a whole, and Dwight in particular. We've gone from Howard supposedly requesting a trade, to public trade denials, to he's definitely finishing the season in Houston but seeing what happens afterward, to these newest rumors about re-signing and joining a super team with Durant.
How it all actually turns out is anyone's guess, but in a season in which very little has gone according to plan for the Rockets, dreaming of a potential Big Three in H-town for the 2016-2017 season is definitely a welcome development.