Dwight Howard Free Agency Watch: Part 7

I’m scared to even start writing this for fear of it becoming outdated by the time I hit publish.  In ten minutes, the Rockets will begin their meeting with Dwight Howard.

Earlier today, they traded Thomas Robinson to the Blazers for what amounts to four future prospects.  The news also broke that the team has placed both guard Jeremy Lin and center Omer Asik on the trade market.  The news on Lin doesn’t come as too big a shock, but with Asik, it signals that Daryl Morey’s eyes could be on some far bigger prize.

Asik might be the league’s best value contract, slated at just $8.3million for a player who brings some of the best defensive contributions in the sport.  I would have hoped that the Rockets would, even if signing Dwight, hold onto Omer, ensuring that for 48 minutes, each night, they would enjoy elite level rim protection.  It can be argued that if adding Dwight, it would make sense to allocate Asik’s value towards other needs.  I think, however, that he’s a luxury we cannot afford to lose.

If Morey is to trade Omer Asik, I don’t think it will be in a trade of the sort of which we’ve become accustomed [in bringing back undervalued hidden gems.]  I think it would only happen for someone he’d consider a true third star to fit next to Howard and Harden.  Possible targets seem like Rajon Rondo, LaMarcus Aldridge, and Josh Smith.

I don’t know how doable Rondo or Aldridge trades would be because those teams would certainly want back young assets in combination with Asik.  The likelier candidate is Smith who is a free agent and a childhood friend of Howard’s.

By some measures, Smith was the very best perimeter defender in the entire NBA, last season.  Along with Howard, Smith would thrust the Rockets into the elite category of defenses.  But his warts offensively are well-documented.  If it came down to it, I’d prefer to just keep Asik and develop the young power forwards.  But I’m torn.  Smith has been, at the very least, the second best player on a Hawks team that has made the playoffs year in and year out.  The little things he does to effect the game are undeniable.

Somewhere in Los Angeles, at this very moment, a cadre including Hakeem Olajuwon, Clyde Drexler, James Harden, Kevin McHale, and Daryl Morey is speaking with Dwight Howard.

About the author: Rahat Huq is a lawyer in real life and the founder and editor-in-chief of Red94.net.

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