NBA Trade Rumors: Dwight Howard's Saga Could End in Houston

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NBA Trade Rumors: Dwight Howard's Saga Could End in Houston
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In one of the longest NBA trade dramas in recent memory, Dwight Howard has not only turned most of the world against him, he has also missed one of the biggest opportunities to get what he wanted.

He may never get it now, and his consolation prize may be a team many least expected, according to Bill Ingram of Hoopsworld.com.

The Houston Rockets.

They're not the latest team to enter the chase, though coverage and rumors may make it seem that way. The Rockets have been there for a while, even getting close to reaching a deal during last season's trade deadline.

While Dwight's decision to opt in may have stemmed from the fact that he discovered he was going to a team he had no desire to be with, there was more to it than that.

Questions emerged about his decision. Did he want to stay and give Orlando one more go? Maybe he received reassurances from their front office? That notion was quickly purged, as he demanded to be traded, according to Chris Broussard of ESPN.com, to the Nets once again during the summer.

By now, Howard could have been a Brooklyn Net. He could have agreed to be traded during last season's trade deadline, signed with Brooklyn along with Deron Williams and called it a day. So why opt-in?

Money.

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Howard isn't stupid or fickle, he just wants to have his cake and eat it too. If he signed with the Nets as an unrestricted free agent coming from another team, he wouldn't get the extra year and cash he could get for re-signing with the Nets under "Bird rights."

The Magic had worked hard to get a deal done with the Nets multiple times, but Brooklyn finally decided to move on (for now) and bring Brook Lopez back, while Howard is left in the dust.

It seemed throughout the whole process that the Magic were reluctantly dealing with the Nets, hoping to milk as much out of them as possible, since they were the only team with a guarantee from Howard on re-signing.

Then there were the Houston Rockets. A team that couldn't care less about what Howard wants, and are all about what they want—a superstar.

They have the ability to offer the Magic exactly what they want in potential lottery picks, rights to recently drafted players, expiring contracts and most importantly, the flexibility and willingness to absorb a large amount of terrible contracts.

As it stands, the Rockets are on the hook for very little money next year, after amnestying Luis Scola, trading players like Kyle Lowry and Samuel Dalembert and letting players like Goran Dragic walk in free agency. The offer sheets to Jeremy Lin and Omer Asik have yet to be sorted out, and the 2012 draft picks have yet to be signed.

The amount of space available for next year could not only facilitate a "super-max" for Howard if he is traded to Houston, but also gives the Rockets the ability to bring in another star to put alongside him.

Even if Houston is not the market he wants to play in, that could go a long way in convincing him to stay. Where else will he go?

Most of the "destination" spots like Brooklyn, New York and Los Angeles will be hard-pressed to get Howard the money he wants, while still having flexibility to retain other stars.

Atlanta and Dallas would be the two biggest contenders for Howard in free agency next year. They have the cap space to compete for Howard and put someone beside him. The common denominator between the three teams would be that they have the ability to bring a second star to play with him.

But if eventually traded to the Rockets, he would have to opportunity to sign for the extra year and money as well. Isn't that what he wanted more than just his desire to be in Brooklyn?

Let's not forget, he's not a Net today because he got greedy and pushed his luck, opting-in to buy more time for a trade to Brooklyn.

So go ahead Dwight, walk away from the extra money. I dare you. 

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