The domino has finally fallen. Dwight Howard, in his typical back and forth waffling style, has chosen to leave the Los Angeles Lakers via free agency for the Houston Rockets.
In doing so Howard leaves money on the table (in the neighborhood of $30 million), but presumably has a better supporting team around him in Houston. He joins James Harden, Jeremy Lin and company on a 45 win team that also traded for Thomas Robinson this off season.
The Rockets hope that Howard will instantly give them the inside scoring option that the team needed to be a championship contender. In the end, Howard had narrowed his choice down to staying with the Lakers or moving on to Houston or the Golden State Warriors. Golden State had made themselves attractive in the last few days by adding veteran Andre Iguodala to an exciting young team.
The Rockets might not be done however.
Brian Windhorst reports that current Houston big man Omer Asik is not very happy about the Rockets’ recent acquisition-
“Asik has no interest in being Howard’s backup or playing next to him, a source close to the Rockets’ center told ESPN.com. It is not yet clear if Asik would demand a trade.
It is possible the Rockets will look to engage the Atlanta Hawks in a sign-and-trade deal for free agent Josh Smith. The Hawks are open to making a sign-and-trade deal with the Rockets for Smith, league sources said. Smith and Howard played together on summer teams as teenagers and have talked in the past about becoming teammates in the NBA.
Asik, a quality defender who averaged career highs in points (10.1), rebounds (11.7) and blocks (2.7) while starting all 82 games for Houston last season, has a complicated contract that could become a challenge in a trade.”
Could the Cavaliers have an interest in trading for Asik? The 7-0 center from Turkey turned 27 years old on July 4th. He is durable playing in all 82 games of his 3 year career twice, and playing 66 games the other. He is a good defensive player and rebounder that is developing his offensive game. He averaged 12.3 points per game in the playoffs for the Rockets.
In addition to the Atlanta Hawks, Yahoo’s Adrian Wojnarowski reports that the New Orleans Pelicans are serious about acquiring Asik.