NBA fans, general managers and agents, it’s time to get serious — because the trade deadline is just a week away, and apparently there’s going to be at least one big name potentially up for grabs.
After making it to the Western Conference finals last year, the Houston Rockets have imploded among heightened expectations and uneven play. Firing their head coach while the 2015-16 season was still young hasn’t produced the desired results, and the question of whether Dwight Howard and James Harden can make it work remains unanswered.
Throw in the fact that Howard is reportedly angling for a maximum contract extension this offseason, and it makes sense that the Rockets would finally be interested in trading the mercurial big man (via The Vertical):
Howard, 30, plans to exercise an opt-out in his contract this summer to become an unrestricted free agent, and uncertainty surrounding the commitment both sides are willing to make has pushed Houston general manager Daryl Morey toward seeking potential trades on the market, league sources said.
The NBA’s trade deadline is Feb. 18.
The Rockets are working with Howard’s agent, Dan Fegan, on possible destinations, league executives told The Vertical.
Howard’s agent, Dan Fegan, issued a statement to ESPN which stated that neither Howard nor Fegan had asked the Rockets for a trade. Howard followed that statement with one of his own, claiming that he "wants to win" wth Houston.
And wins aren’t out of the question. He’s still a very good player; he’s averaging 14.6 points and 12.0 rebounds this season, and he’s often the only thing giving Houston’s defense a fighting chance. But any team that trades for the former Magic and Lakers center has to know that it’s all about this season and maybe next. If you’re one major piece from an NBA Finals push then maybe it makes sense to roll the dice and hope that you can win a ring before Howard’s value plummets.
Beyond that, Howard’s balky back makes a long, expensive contract a risk not worth taking. Of course, we get the feeling that won’t stop a team like the Knicks from thinking about putting Howard and Kristaps Porzingis next to each other in a post-oriented offense.
Maybe it’s finally time for a Howard-for-Carmelo Anthony trade. In a somewhat mundane season where the championship seems like a foregone conclusion — thanks for that, Golden State — such a titanic shakeup would give the NBA a much needed shock to the system. Because who doesn’t love a major trade?