NBA

Luis Scola Amnestied: Daryl Morey Takes Big Gamble for Dwight Howard

DALLAS - JANUARY 24:  Juwan Howard #5 of the Houston Rockets takes a shot against Dwight Howard #12 of the Orlando Magic on January 24, 2005 at the Toyota Center in Houston, Texas. The Rockets defeated the Magic 89-78.  NOTE TO USER:User expressly acknowleges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
Ronald Martinez/Getty Images
Ethan Sherwood StraussNBA Lead WriterJuly 13, 2012

Daryl Morey is no longer running a lukewarm team. If the Houston Rockets fail, they will do so resoundingly. If they succeed, Morey will overtly show up his doubters.

By nixing the (good) three-year deal of Luis Scola, as Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports reports, Morey has put all of his eggs in the superstar basket. It's Dwight Howard, Andrew Bynum or bust for a general manager whose career has been one long drumroll. 

By shedding the $20 million owed to Scola, Houston has enough cap space to sign not only Dwight Howard, but also Chris Paul next season. What remains to be seen is whether Morey can a) secure a trade for Dwight and b) convince free agents to stay in Houston.

Morey has failed in the past. He lost Chris Bosh to Miami, he lost Pau Gasol to David Stern and he's already been rebuked by Dwight Howard, according to NBA.com's David Aldridge. 

While the matter of trading for Dwight seems like a forgone conclusion, let's not be so hasty. In the NBA, when one team appears to be the suitor for a major catch, another team often swoops in out of nowhere and seizes the day.

This is exactly what happened in the case of Steve Nash. Nash-to-the-Knicks rumors saturated the media cycle. The Lakers were hardly mentioned at all, at least until they actually wrested Nash away.

Still, the Rockets can create a formidable package, at least compared to Brooklyn's laughable Brook Lopez offer. If Houston needs only to top that offer, it's no tough task. Morey has talented 2012 draft picks in Jeremy Lamb, Royce White and Terrence Jones. Any deal for Howard would involve at least one of these picks. 

Again, Houston has a good deal on the table, but there's no telling if it's the best one. Certain GMs are better at being coy than Mr. Morey (constant trade rumors probably had something to do with Kyle Lowry becoming frustrated in Houston).

So let's hand Howard over to Houston. Then what?

Morey is counting on his ability to re-sign the center. The Nets will be out of the picture, as they're not allowed to deal for Howard on the free-agent market due to being over the cap. 

But there would be other suitors, perhaps more enticing than Houston. Mark Cuban has also been scraping cap space together in hopes of landing a big fish. Atlanta has cleared the decks by dumping Joe Johnson on Brooklyn; it, too, could be a player in this chase.

Morey's only looking to trade for the upper hand in keeping Howard. It's an all-or-nothing move, considering how Houston's roster is comprised of more tradeable assets than ready contributors.

Morey might miss, but he's certainly swinging for the fences here. 

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