NBA Rumors: Houston Rockets Still Closing In on Dwight Howard

NBA: Los Angeles Lakers at Phoenix SunsSo, it’s Houston? Forget the Lakers. If Dwight was portrayed as clueless, goofy and a whirling top here—by no one more than me—deciding between the Lakers and Houston wasn’t a no-brainer.

The Rockets have James Harden, a budding great, at 23. The Lakers have Kobe Bryant, an all-time great, at 35, coming off Achilles surgery, hoping to be back opening night. On the other hand, Houston vs. Golden State, which jumped into the picture with its armory of sharpshooters—Steph Curry, David Lee, Klay Thompson, Jarrett Jack, Harrison Barnes?

No one had figured the Warriors could land Dwight without a sign-and-trade, which the Lakers weren’t going to facilitate for them.

But the Warriors could.

There were takers for Andris Biedrins and Richard Jefferson, dealt Friday to Utah. Moving Andrew Bogut, who can play when healthy, would have been child’s play.

Ka-ching!

The Warriors could have then maxed out Howard without sending Curry, Lee, Thompson, Barnes, Jack, Bogut, their No. 1 pick or anything to the Lakers. Why, Dwight why?

Actually, I know why.

“I wanted to put myself in the best position to win a title.”

Or he might say “titles.” If that’s the case nice try, big guy. If the Rockets didn’t put it quite like this to Dwight, they’re about to tear their running-gunning team apart, switching over to a low-post team, with Dwight, not Omer Asik, in the post.

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Asik and Jeremy Lin will be shopped—first to the Lakers… who don’t want either. A Laker official told me that specifically. The Lakers have a salary cap strategy starting in 2014 that’s so strict they wouldn’t offer Earl Clark $4.5 million for the 2014-15 season, knowing that meant losing him. Asik and Lin both make $8.3 million for two more seasons. Taking them would knock the Lakers’ cap room in 2014 from $55 million to $36.7 million; less than two full max slots. With time (mercifully) running out on the free-agent marathon of all times, all you had to do Friday was follow the bouncing players.

The Warriors pulled out of the Dwight race, taking the $20 million they pared off next season’s camp by dumping Biedrins and Jefferson on Utah, and $12 million of it to Iguodala.

With Atlanta and Dallas long since written off, that left only the Rockets and Lakers.

Or, apparently, just the Rockets.

Friday afternoon, USA Today’s Sam Amick reported that Warrior officials had just been given “indications” the Rockets remained “the strong favorite.”

In the good news for the Lakers….

Let’s not kid ourselves, there is none. High maintenance or not, they wanted Howard back. Winning titles requires great players, plural, which means adding, not subtracting them. On the other hand, $55 million in cap room in 2014 isn’t a bad start. Of course, it may take strong Laker fans to endure what lies ahead.

Just wanted to let you know. For you who can’t take it, there’s always the Clippers.

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