Amid a report that stated the Houston Rockets are hoping to amass enough trade assets to make a deal with the Orlando Magic for Dwight Howard – even though Howard would only be in Houston for one season before becoming an unrestricted free agent in the summer of 2013 — a source with knowledge of Howard’s thinking said Monday that there was “not a chance” Howard would be persuaded to remain in Houston if traded there, and would leave next summer to sign elsewhere.
ESPN.com reported Monday morning that the Rockets, who currently have the 14th and 16th picks overall in the first round of Thursday’s Draft, were trying to move up in order to acquire two high first-round picks that would be sent to the Magic as part of a package for Howard. Howard decided to “opt in” to the final year of his contract late this past season rather than opt out and be an unrestricted free agent this summer.
But Howard has given no indication he plans to sign any long-term extension in Orlando, and the Magic are resigned to the fact that they’ll likely have to trade him sometime this offseason unless he has a dramatic change of heart. The Nets and Mavericks have been among the most ardent suitors for the 26-year-old Howard, who missed Orlando’s first-round playoff loss to Indiana after undergoing back surgery in April. Howard believes he’ll be back on the court in time for the start of next season.
The Rockets have made it clear that they are willing to take Howard with no assurances that he’d remain after next season. They’ve offered several different packages to different teams currently in the top 10. League sources said Monday that the Rockets have put guard Kevin Martin in at least two trade packages, and it’s believed that the Rockets are also shopping guard Kyle Lowry, who started at point guard before being sidelined with a bacterial infection that caused him to miss almost a month of the season.
Lowry subsequently said he didn’t think he would be able to play next season for coach Kevin McHale, citing unspecified issues. McHale told local reporters Monday he didn’t have a problem with Lowry and could coach him next season.
One league source said the Rockets hoped to make deals for the additional Draft picks using existing players, so they would have as many as four first-rounders they could put in a package to Orlando for Howard. One potential deal, according to a league source, would send Martin to Minnesota — presumably for the Wolves’ 18th pick in the first round — where Martin would play for former Rockets coach Rick Adelman; Martin had success playing for Adelman during their years together in Houston. But rumors of a Martin-Adelman reunion in Minnesota have been thrown around for months.
The Magic just hired its new GM, Rob Hennigan, last week, and fired assistant GM Dave Twardzik and several members of the scouting and basketball staffs over the weekend. Orlando reached agreement Monday with Pistons vice president of basketball operations Scott Perry to be Hennigan’s assistant GM in Orlando. Perry will have more decision-making authority with the Magic than in Detroit, where he’d been for all but once season since 2000, when he joined the organization as a scout. Perry spent the 2007-08 season in Seattle as assistant general manager.