As Orlando Magic officials talk with representatives from the Los Angeles Lakers about a move for center Dwight Howard, Magic GM Rob Hennigan would be wise to change course and re-evaluate his trade options with the Houston Rockets.
Although the Rockets do not offer any player with the game of Lakers center Andrew Bynum, likely the crux of any deal with Los Angeles, Houston offers a multitude of options for the soon-to-be rebuilding Magic.
Here is why a Superman-to-Houston deal makes sense for both the Rockets and the Magic.
Assets and Raw Talent
Having drafted three players in the first round of the 2012 NBA draft, the Rockets have the assets and young players that Orlando desperately needs to rebuild.
Rockets GM Daryl Morey has been pursuing Howard so relentlessly that he has moved many of his rotation players in an attempt to stockpile more picks and assets.
The result is an overwhelming number of prospects.
Houston could offer Orlando some combination of future draft picks and young guys Jeremy Lamb, Royce White, Chandler Parsons and Courtney Fortson. Additionally, they could send over the expiring contract of shooting guard Kevin Martin, a valuable chip for next season’s trade deadline.
Although none of the aforementioned guys have the recognition power of a young gun like Anthony Davis or Kyrie Irving, there is a strong likelihood that at least one can become a franchise cornerstone.
Not only does this put Hennigan in a position to strip his team of many of its larger contracts, but it would also be incredibly valuable in expediting the Magic's rebuilding process.
Star Power and Marketability
With the New York Knicks opting to pass on matching the Rockets' contract offer for Jeremy Lin, Houston already has a fan favorite in Linsanity.
Adding Superman to the mix would only benefit the Rockets from a marketing and financial standpoint.
Endorsement deals and sponsorships would be through the roof for the Rockets, giving Houston some much needed luster and allure off the court.
If the Knicks don’t match Houston’s contract offer and Lin becomes a Rocket, Houston would resume its role as Asia’s NBA team. The Rockets already established business relationships with Chinese companies who bought courtside banner ads while Yao Ming was with the team, so they’re perfectly positioned to market Lin -- and Howard -- in Asia. ...
Howard should consult Tracy McGrady, whose jersey was among the top four sellers in China from 2006 to 2009 while he played alongside Yao. T-Mac’s No. 1 Rockets jersey outsold LeBron James and even Yao himself.
The two could perform on the court together as well.
Lin is adept in the pick-and-roll, the perfect sort of offense to find Howard open for easy buckets. The point guard's shooting stroke would also open up the floor and leave Howard space to operate in the post.
Although it is likely that even with Howard and Lin, the Rockets could not take down any of the Western Conference’s powerhouses, the two would still provide for some exciting and competitive basketball.
While Houston may be imprudent to acquire Howard without guaranteeing an extension first, the Rockets would still have greater financial leverage than any other team in keeping D12 in red and white.
The ability to re-sign Howard in the summer of 2013 would give Houston the option of offering D12 an extra year and approximately $25 million more than any other squad.
In a league where money talks, Superman could opt to lock up more dough rather than pursue his options elsewhere.
And with 82 games in a Rockets jersey, there is the possibility that Howard may like Houston enough to stay long-term. Although the West is stacked, Howard is a good enough player to keep Houston afloat in the playoff race and give problems to other conference foes.
If the money starts rolling in, Houston becomes an international favorite and the Rockets are winning games, then the team would be clever to acquire Howard this summer.
The Rockets also have enough cap flexibility to make a legitimate run at a top free agent next summer.
Chris Paul is yet to sign an extension with the Los Angeles Clippers and the Rockets would love to pair up D12 and CP3 in Houston. Atlanta's Josh Smith will also be a free agent and would be a versatile complement to Howard.
As of now, Houston is stuck in basketball purgatory as a fringe playoff team. With a fanbase demanding some change, Houston can either commit to rebuilding or make a splash and try to win now.
A complete change of scenery from Orlando to Houston could be what it takes for Howard to take the next step forward.
Given the assets Houston is offering, the Magic should give some serious thought to pulling the trigger on Superman. If they do, Rockets basketball could be one of the most compelling shows on the court next season.
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