Daryl Morey’s master plan may be coming together after all.
According to a CBS report, free agent center Dwight Howard is no lock to re-sign with the Los Angeles Lakers and is most intrigued by playing in Houston, where All-Star guard James Harden led the league’s youngest team to the playoffs, where it was eliminated in six games by the Oklahoma City Thunder.
“With six weeks to go before Howard becomes an unrestricted free agent, the team that is said to intrigue him the most is the Houston Rockets, according to multiple people briefed on internal conversations surrounding Howard’s free-agent decision,” CBS reported. “The Rockets have a young star, James Harden, who has proved himself worthy of playing the leading role for the franchise; a budding 3-point shooting threat in Chandler Parsons; a defensive-minded coach in Kevin McHale; and Omer Asik, the kind of 7-footer Howard is believed to want next to him in the frontcourt.”
If this is true, it gets the Rockets’ roster as close to a championship contender as they have been in Morey’s six seasons as general manager. The Rockets aggressively pursued a trade for Howard last season, but at the time had a bit of a motley crew for a roster, one that didn’t include Harden (or, for that matter, Omer Asik and Jeremy Lin).
With Lin, Harden and professional pest Patrick Beverly, Houston is strong in the backcourt. With Asik, it has one of the league’s best interior defenders and in Chandler Parsons it has a versatile small forward who is grossly underpaid. The Rockets’ biggest weakness in 2012-13, when they were the No. 8 seed in the Western Conference playoffs, was a lack of reliable scoring on the block.
Howard, of course, would help tremendously.
Houston needs to clear some cap space, but that won’t be a problem. The biggest question is, “Does Howard want to play in Houston?” and it sounds like the answer is, “He might.”