Dwight Howard: Why Trading for Howard Is a Smart Move for the Houston Rockets

Ryan Reed@@rareedBRCorrespondent IIJuly 19, 2012

Apr 07, 2012; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Orlando Magic center Dwight Howard (12) during the fourth quarter against the Philadelphia 76ers at the Wells Fargo Center. The Magic defeated the Sixers 88-82. Mandatory Credit: Howard Smith-US PRESSWIRE

The desire of the Houston Rockets to trade for Magic center Dwight Howard is well documented. They stockpiled first-round draft picks before the draft in order to entice Orlando to make a trade. Even when that didn’t work, Houston has remained hopeful to nab Howard with their young players along with a combination of draft picks.

Fans have decidedly agreed that trading for Dwight Howard is a bad idea. Despite his amazing talent, he is considered much too volatile after the season that the Magic went through with him last year.

More importantly, Dwight will be a free agent after this season and has been unwilling to sign a long-term deal, though the latest rumors say he'd re-up with the Lakers (via ESPN). Trading for him would essentially constitute signing him for a one-year contract.

The Rockets, however, need him much more than they need their young talent or future picks that they may have to give up. He’s worth more than Royce White, Jeremy Lamb, Terrence Jones and whatever else ends up in the deal.

A big man like Dwight is a once-in-a-generation talent and can turn the franchise around, even for a year. The pairing with Jeremy Lin should be enough to intrigue both the Rockets and Dwight Howard. If Lin lives up to all of his hype, then Houston could potentially have one of the best point guard-center combinations in the league.

It’s worth the risk to try and convince Howard to stay in Houston for a few more years, especially when he sees that Brooklyn will not be able to sign him after the season is over.

Beyond getting a great player, the move is important to Houston because it will take them out of the dreaded consistent mediocrity in the NBA.

The last three seasons, the Rockets have finished ninth, ninth and 10th in the Western Conference. Basically, they were right on the cusp of the playoffs with a talented roster, but they did not have enough to take them over the top.

The issue with finishing right out of the playoffs is that they consistently pick at the end of the lottery. They had no first-round picks in 2009, followed by the 14th pick in 2010 (Patrick Patterson) and another 14th pick (Marcus Morris) in 2011.

While those are solid role players, it’s tough to find players who are really going to take a team to the next level at the end of the lottery.

Trading for Dwight will take them out of the lottery for his season in Houston, and then put them into a place in the draft where they can really rebuild their team.

It’s similar to the Cleveland Cavaliers. Once the Cavs lost LeBron James, they suffered for a year but were rewarded with Kyrie Irving. He would have never been a Cavalier without James leaving.

Obviously, the Rockets would like Dwight to stay if they are able to trade for him. Even if he doesn’t, however, the trade will allow them a chance to finally begin rebuilding their team with adequate players, instead of being stuck in the middle of the league.

If the Houston Rockets ever want to escape mediocrity, they must make the trade for Dwight Howard and do it soon.