One interesting rumor that’s been running around for the last 48 hours is the Boston Celtics trying to make a trade for Dwight Howard, but as of now, the Houston Rockets have no intention of giving up on their often injured center.
Howard hasn’t been able to be the addition that brings the Rockets a championship and his numbers continue to drop as he deals with injuries that come and go quite often, averaging 14.4 points and 11.8 rebounds per game. But whether he plays alone, next to Clint Capela or Josh Smith, he makes the Rockets better, and he gives them a better chance of doing well in the playoffs, or maybe even making the playoffs, which isn’t certain considering the Rockets have been hovering quite close to .500 all season long.
As Daryl Morey put it, they’re about this season, and doing well this season, and dealing Howard (unless this is some ploy to up the price) is out of the question for now: We’re just focused on this season. So is Dwight. If we as a team and he as a player plays like we know he’s capable and has been this year and was last year, all that stuff takes care of itself. There’s no way we make the conference finals last year without Dwight and there’s no way are making the solid playoff push this year without Dwight.
The Celtics have been aggressive in their interests as we approach the deadline, looking for something to improve, mostly their interior. They’ve been linked with Al Horford of the Atlanta Hawks, while it does seem like if they won’t be able to offload David Lee in some kind of deal they’ll buyout his contract and send the big man to somewhere he might be of more use. The Rockets might be more open to offers than they’re letting on, but that probably includes other players like Terrence Jones, who has been doing OK off the bench, but nothing special.
Howard is into his 12th NBA season. An eight-time All-Star, three-time defensive player of the year and five-time on the All-NBA first team, it seems like he’s getting to that point where he might not even be a starter for some teams. It’s not just the direction the league is going in when it comes to true centers, but his ability overall. He isn’t the defensive juggernaut he once was (it doesn’t help when the others aren’t defending) and his offense continues to erode with the athleticism that’s disappearing and his limitations on offense showing more and more.
He makes $23.2 million next season if he takes the player option. While he can opt out, and with the salary cap rising to new highs it might be wise for him, he’s not going to get more than this, and probably less. However, considering the number of injuries he’s had in recent years and the erosion in the importance of a true center, a strong finish from him this season could result in his last opportunity to cash in with a long term deal that might not be available to him 16 months from now.