Dwight Howard Free Agency Watch: Part 6

Marc Stein tweeted some nuggets of Rocket relevance today, saying:

  • “Why is Kevin McHale off limits to Celts in their coaching search? One reason, I’m told: Rockets see McHale as a key to Dwight Howard pitch”
  • “Thomas Robinson to Cavs for No. 19 pick. Thomas Robinson to Bulls for No. 20. Word is both of those scenarios are on table for Rockets”
  • “Rival executives, more & more, list Houston as favorite in Dwight Sweepstakes ahead of Lakers. Trading T-Rob means Rockets can offer D12 max”

First, regarding McHale: This confirms the conventional wisdom regarding that hire.  There were men available far better equipped for the task but for a team whose most recognizable figure was its general manager, Houston needed a figurehead.  Now with McHale, they can approach Dwight Howard with pedigree.

On Robinson: A few thoughts.  I was sharply critical of his abilities last season, even stating recently that I saw “nothing in him that makes me think he’ll ever be an impact player on this team.”  That the Rockets are on the verge of dealing Robinson is not an affirmation of that sentiment nor is it an indictment of the player himself.  This is a move simply being made for cap room.  Yes, there are some analytical nuances (namely the deduction that the team would prefer to part ways with the former #5 overall pick rather than dealing both Terrence Jones and Motiejunas, but that’s not much of a logical leap), but to be clear: this is completely about cap room.

It’s also been posited that that Morey is readily willing to deal T-Rob is proof that the former is sure or has been given assurance that Howard will be signing.  This is nonsense.  Dealing Robinson to clear the necessary cap room to even give himself a shot at Howard is what any reasonable manager would do.  This isn’t exactly a high risk gamble.  He’s trading a marginal player to give himself a chance.  Don’t read too much into it.  While Morey likely is feeling confident about his chances, this T-Rob aspect isn’t probative evidence of anything.

Lastly, the one that made you smile: after it seemed like the Clippers might have pushed to the forefront, now most reports seem to be pointing back towards Houston.  With the way the tide has turned, we’ll just have to  wait and see.  But two things are extremely encouraging.  1) The above point, regarding rival executives and 2) the testimony from Chandler Parsons that he and Howard speak daily.  Why are these encouraging?  Because after the Clippers story broke, my suspicion had become that all of the early reports linking Howard to Houston had actually been planted leaks from Howard’s camp in attempts to build a viable threat.  The theory was that if Howard would eventually need the Lakers’ participation (in a S&T), he’d need to create a fear that he’d leave somewhere outright.  But if he’s asking Parsons questions daily, as Parsons testified, there likely is genuine interest.

I’ll be back tomorrow with more coverage after the Rockets make their selection at #14.  Ah, wait…

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