What Houston Rockets' Play for Dwight Howard Means for Western Conference Powers

Adam FromalNational NBA Featured ColumnistJuly 17, 2012

ORLANDO, FL - MARCH 30:  Dwight Howard #12 of the Orlando Magic drives aganst Ian Mahinmi #28 of the Dallas Mavericks during the game at Amway Center on March 30, 2012 in Orlando, Florida.  NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges 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 Sam Greenwood/Getty Images)
Sam Greenwood/Getty Images

The Houston Rockets haven't attempted to disguise their love affair with Dwight Howard at all. Daryl Morey will stop at nothing to get his hands on the center who has spent his entire career with the Orlando Magic

If Dwight really is Superman, then the Rockets are the damsel in distress falling out of a 20-story building and about to hit the ground, hoping desperately that Superman will come to save her. 

So, just for the sake of argument, let's say that the pursuit is successful and Dwight ends up wearing the Rockets' red and white uniform. Should the powers of the Western Conference be scared?

The easy answer is that they shouldn't be. In fact, the Rockets might struggle to make the playoffs even with Dwight.

If everything goes right during trade talks, the Rockets are looking at a swap of Kevin Martin, Patrick Patterson, Marcus Morris, Chandler Parsons and Royce White for Howard, Glen Davis, Jason Richardson and Hedo Turkoglu. They would also have to waive non-essential players like Diamon Simpson, Courtney Fortson and Greg Smith.  

That leaves Houston with a lineup of Lin, Richardson, Turkoglu, Davis and Howard, with Donatas Motiejunas, Jeremy Lamb and Terrence Jones coming off of the bench. 

While that's a solid team, it's eerily reminiscent of the Orlando Magic last season. The only major differences are the presence of Lin and a downgraded bench (although one with incredibly high potential). 

The Magic earned a sixth seed in the Eastern Conference last season and this team would be just about on the same level. That may not be good enough to even earn a spot in the playoffs. 

Teams like the Oklahoma City Thunder, Los Angeles Lakers, San Antonio Spurs, Los Angeles Clippers, Memphis Grizzlies, Dallas Mavericks and Denver Nuggets shouldn't be scared at all. They may drop an extra regular season game or two, but they're still locks to make the playoffs and contend. 

If any teams are going to worry out West about a Dwight-Lin duo, it would be the Utah Jazz and the up-and-comers who are fighting for the final playoff spot in the conference. The competition is going to be fierce, though, regardless of where Dwight ends up. 

Given time to rebuild, Howard and Lin could do some damage together—just not this next season.