Dwight Howard and Chris Paul Reportedly Top Targets for Rockets in Free Agency

Rob Goldberg@TheRobGoldbergFeatured ColumnistJune 9, 2013

Like most other teams in the NBA, the Houston Rockets are interested in acquiring both Dwight Howard and Chris Paul this offseason. Jonathan Feigen of Ultimate Rockets reports that the organization will heavily pursue each player just as aggressively:

Howard has generated by far the most attention as a Rockets free-agent target, but the team plans a similar and simultaneous pursuit of Los Angeles Clippers guard Chris Paul, a person with knowledge of the Rockets’ thinking said. According to another individual familiar with the team’s plans, “they are targets No. 1 and 1A.”

The battle to acquire Howard is nothing new for Houston. The organization spent last summer doing its best trying to trade for the big man, although he ended up going to the Los Angeles Lakers in a four-team deal.

Still, things are looking up for the team now that the center is a free agent. Ken Berger of CBS Sports previously reported that Howard will explore all options in free agency, meaning he is not a lock to return to the Lakers.

Additionally, the Rockets stated that they are hopeful Howard would sign with the squad, according to ESPN's Marc Stein.

Even in a "down year" with Los Angeles, the three-time NBA Defensive Player of the Year averaged 17.1 points, 2.4 blocks and a league-leading 12.4 rebounds per game. It's obvious that Houston feels Howard would be a huge addition to the team's playoff hopes.

Of course, the interest in Paul is a bit of a new development.

The point guard is one of the best players in the league at his position, averaging 16.9 points and 9.7 assists with the Los Angeles Clippers in 2012-13, and he would be certain to help the squad right away. However, the team signed Jeremy Lin to a relatively large contract last summer, marking him as the franchise's floor general of the future. 

Then again, any time you have a chance to grab one of the best floor leaders in the game, you have to take that opportunity.

Unfortunately, money could be an issue regarding these signings. According to Mark Deeks of Sham Sports, the team does not have enough room in the salary cap for even one maximum contract, even if it waives unnecessary players. The only way the Rockets would have a chance at these players would be in a sign-and-trade that costs them Lin or starting center Omer Asik.

Still, Houston will likely do whatever it takes to clear up space for one of these two players if they decide to come to town.

It will be some time before either superstar decides on a destination for next season, but it is clear that the Rockets will be one of the biggest players in free agency this summer.


Rob Goldberg is a member of Bleacher Report's Breaking News Team. Follow him on Twitter for the latest updates.

Follow TheRobGoldberg on Twitter