With the Dwight Howard situation dissolving publicly right before our very eyes, it's looking less and less likely that D-12 returns to Houston. Despite Howard's public statements that he has yet to make an official decision in regards to his player option, the writing is undoubtedly on the wall. Howard is gone.
And dovetailing off of last week's Rocket Fuel which referenced Sports Rageous, it appears the Rockets are turning their attention elsewhere. Rumor has it that free-agent-to-be big man Al Horford is the top player on GM Daryl Morey's "want" list, which is now being picked up elsewhere and was originally reported by Sean Deveney of the Sporting News:
"It's not a great year for free agency, but the Rockets will be searching for shooting, especially a versatile forward who can spread the floor.
"A person familiar with the organization told Sporting News that landing Hawks star Al Horford is the Rockets' top-line goal in free agency, and Ryan Anderson also would be a possibility. Also, expect Morey to be creative in pursuing sign-and-trade deals involving star players like Blake Griffin, Jimmy Butler or Carmelo Anthony, should they become available."
We wanted to take a closer look at this report, and that's quite an impressive list of players, though it is good to hear that Horford is the ultimate prize.
The Rockets are in dire need of some additional talent and versatility on their front line, and Horford certainly fits the bill. He's never been dominant on the boards, averaging over 10 per game just once in his career, but last season's stat line of 15.2 points, 7.3 rebounds, 3.2 assists, 1.0 steal and 1.7 blocks per game on 50.5 percent shooting from the field and 34.4 percent from deep illustrates not only his playmaking ability, but his defensive prowess and shooting range as well.
Horford's been a positive offensive and defensive player in each of the last 7 seasons, he can also hit his free throws (74.3 percent for his career), and the 30-year-old would fit in the Houston lineup equally as well at power forward alongside Clint Capela or at center alongside Montrezl Harrell or Donatas Motiejunas (if he returns).
The Ryan Anderson rumors come as no surprise, as the Rockets have long been speculated to be targeting the sharp-shooting forward, and while his career 37.7 percent shooting from beyond the arc would be a welcome addition to a Houston squad on a serious hunt for some shooters to place around James Harden, his career negative defense wouldn't help a team that seriously slipped in that department this past season.
The Griffin or Butler rumors sound nice, and Morey is always knows to be active in the trade market, especially if a star or stars are available, but there's been no indications from the Clippers or the Bulls that either player is currently up for grabs.
As for Carmelo Anthony... please, Daryl, just no.
If Dwight leaves as expected, the Rockets will have more than enough cash lying around to make some serious moves, and with just a little over a month to go before the free agency gold mine explodes, we're sure to be inundated with rumors off all types in the lead up to July 1. Take solace in the fact that one of the first one's we're hearing features a player in Horford who looks to be not only a good fit, but could also be a real possibility if Houston plays their free agency cards right.