Houston Rockets Offseason Tracker: Latest Trade Rumors, Free Agency News

Grant HughesNational NBA Featured ColumnistJune 26, 2013

Houston Rockets Offseason Tracker: Latest Trade Rumors, Free Agency News

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    The Houston Rockets are looking to be crowned the kings of a second straight offseason. They earned the unofficial honor last year for their acquisition of James Harden on the eve of the 2012-13 season, and they'll be looking to use their considerable cap space and bevy of young assets to make a similarly splashy move this summer.

    Dwight Howard is already on board, but the Rockets aren't done.

    With a number of low-priced commodities on hand and a penchant for moving around in the draft, the Rockets are sure to be among the league's busiest franchises during the offseason.

    Houston made the playoffs as the eighth seed last year, but the organization won't be satisfied with a mere repeat of that performance. General manager Daryl Morey has his sights set on championship contention.

    How close the Rockets come to that goal will depend almost entirely on what they can get done on the trade and free-agent markets.

The Houston Rockets Have Won the Dwight Howard Sweepstakes

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    The Buzz

    UPDATE: Saturday, July 6, at 2:45 p.m. ET by Jesse Dorsey

    Houston's deal with Dwight Howard is a four-year, $88 million maximum contract that includes an early termination option following the 2015-16 season, along with a 15 percent trade kicker, per Yahoo! Sports' Adrian Wojnarowski.

    The option will allow Howard to exit his contract after the 2016 season and sign a full five-year maximum deal with Houston, or pursue another team.

    --End of update--

    UPDATE: Friday, July 5, at 11:05 p.m. ET by Grant Hughes

    Things got messy there for a few hours. ESPN reported that Howard was back to waffling between the Lakers and Rockets, Chris Mannix of Sports Illustrated reported that Howard was heading to L.A. for a meeting and then Mark Medina of the L.A. Daily News dropped the confusing bomb that the Lakers and Mitch Kupchak were somehow unaware of said meeting.

    In the end, all of the confusion turned out to be nothing more than a product of the tireless news cycle and some dubious sources.

    The Lakers acknowledged in an official statement that Howard was leaving. And then Howard finally tweeted his decision to join the Rockets.

    Got all that?

    ---End of update---

    UPDATE: Friday, July 5, at 7:11 p.m. ET by Grant Hughes

    According to Sam Amick of USA Today, Howard has chosen to sign with the Houston Rockets.

    After a flurry of moves by the Golden State Warriors, it appeared as though there was a real question about where D12 would end up, but in the end, Howard opted for Houston.

    Because nothing with Howard is ever simple, reports from Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! and Alex Kennedy of Hoopsworld.com confused matters by indicating that Howard had not made his final decision yet.

    The latest information available from Wojnarowski and ESPN make it seem as though Howard is going to sign with the Rockets. The dust seems to have settled...for now.

    ---End of update---

    According to Sam Amico of Fox Sports, many league executives are starting to believe that the Rockets are the favorites to land Howard's services.

    Sources have even told ESPN.com's Chris Broussard that Howard is unlikely to return to the Lakers and that the Rockets (and Mavericks) are now considered the favorites to bring him in during free agency.

    Finally, ESPNLosAngeles' Dave McMenamin reports that Howard will deliver his free-agency decision on July 10, once the NBA's moratorium period is lifted.

    Houston will be given the first crack at Howard according to NBC Sports' David Baumann, as Chandler Parsons, Kevin McHale, James Harden and Hakeem Olajuwon will meet with the big man in Los Angeles.

    According to Jonathan Feigen of The Houston Chronicle, the Houston pitch to Howard included details about the international popularity of the team, their new basketball facilities, life in the city, the camaraderie between the players throughout the team's history, and the presence of McHale, one of the all-time great low-post players.

    Yahoo! Sports' Adrian Wojnarowski reports the Rockets have emerged as the "frontrunner" to land Howard.


    Buying or Selling?

    On a purely logical level, this makes sense. Howard has to be concerned with the Los Angeles Lakers' aging roster, lack of flexibility and cloudy immediate future. Those flaws stand out all the more starkly when compared to the Rockets' put-together appearance.

    If Howard wants to win, Houston is the place with the best chance to do that. If he wants to grow with a group of young players, Houston is the place to do that, too.

    In a basketball sense, the Lakers are headed in the wrong direction. So unless Howard is swayed by the extra $30 million he can make by re-signing with L.A.—by no means a small thing—his best move probably is to sign with the Rockets.

Rockets Officially Shopping Jeremy Lin, Omer Asik?

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    The Buzz

    UPDATE: Sunday, July 14, at 12:59 a.m. ET by Grant Hughes

    According to Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle, Houston Rockets general manager Daryl Morey will not seek to trade either Jeremy Lin or Omer Asik because James Harden and Dwight Howard want the pair to stick around.

    ---End of update---


    UPDATE: Monday, July 8, at 8:08 a.m. ET by Dan Favale

    Yannis Koutroupis of Hoopsworld confirms that the Rockets have had discussions with the Pelicans about a possible Omer Asik for Ryan Anderson swap.

    A source tells him Anderson and Howard have a good relationship, but that Anderson is currently happy in New Orleans.

    ESPN's Marc Stein, reports, however, that negotiations for a potential deal have not taken place and that the Pelicans aren't even interested in Asik.

    Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports adds that Anderson does intrigue the Rockets, but the Pelicans are going to want more than Asik in return.

    ---End of update---


    UPDATE: Sunday, July 7, at 4:05 p.m. ET by Dan Favale

    Per Brian Windhorst of ESPN.com, Houston's Omer Asik has indeed requested a trade from the Rockets since they won the Dwight Howard sweepstakes.

    Sources told Windhorst, however, that the Rockets aren't prepared to oblige.

    And the plot thickens.

    ---End of update---


    UPDATE: Saturday, July 6, at 12:45 p.m. ET by Jesse Dorsey

    The hot rumor is a swap between the Houston Rockets and New Orleans Pelicans, sending Omer Asik away in exchange for Ryan Anderson.

    Yannis Koutroupis of Hoopsworld.com reported on Friday afternoon that the two were discussing a swap, and that Anderson and Howard have a good relationship, having played together for three years in Orlando.

    However, ESPN's Marc Stein said on Saturday morning that the Pelicans hadn't talked to Houston about a deal, nor would they be interested in Asik.

    --End of update--



    UPDATE: Friday, July 5, at 7:44 p.m. ET by Grant Hughes

    According to Brian Windhorst of ESPN, Omer Asik doesn't want to play with or behind Howard, which has the Rockets looking into trade options for the big man.

    Chris Broussard of ESPN also reports that Josh Smith could very well come to the Rockets via a sign-and-trade deal involving Asik and Jeremy Lin.

    ---End of update---



    Ken Berger of CBS Sports reports that the Houston Rockets have made both Jeremy Lin and Omer Asik available via trade.

    Houston is confident that Howard will be joining them following his meetings with teams interested in his services, making Asik, and apparently Lin, expendable.

    Berger states that Houston is targeting the Philadelphia 76ers with Asik, which is where former Rockets executive Sam Hinkie is serving as a new general manager.

    Also from Berger, the Detroit Pistons are showing interest in Jeremy Lin, although they would want a starting point guard in return, preferring a sign-and-trade for Jose Calderon, according to Kennedy.

    Per Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle, GM Daryl Morey denied that the team is shopping Lin or Asik. "Both with Omer and Jeremy, we feel like they're good fits for Dwight."


    Buying or Selling?

    Morey never explicitly said he was shopping Lin or Asik, but in the aftermath of the Howard signing, it didn't look like he was going to have much choice—particularly with respect to Asik. The Turkish big man made a formal trade demand immediately after Howard and the Rockets agreed to terms on July 5, per Brian Windhorst of ESPN.com.

    Things seem stable right now, but the Rockets have shown recently that they're always a threat to make bold moves. Don't be surprised if things change abruptly.

Rockets Interested in Jamaal Tinsley

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    The Buzz

    The Rockets are showing interest in Jamaal Tinsley, according to Alex Kennedy of Hoopsworld.

    Other interested teams included the Bobcats, Mavericks and Suns.


    Buying or Selling?

    So long as the Rockets have Jeremy Lin, they shouldn't sign anyone who takes playing time away from Patrick Beverley. They have something in that kid.

    Of course, a little extra depth can't hurt. 

    Tinsley would come cheap and provide some insurance should Houston ever elect to move Lin without taking back another point man in return.

    This is hardly a game-changer, but how the Rockets approach the situation that may or may not exist with Lin right now will be something to monitor even further if they land Tinsley.

Rockets Sign Reggie Williams

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    The Buzz

    Reggie Williams has signed a two-year deal with the Rockets, ESPN's Marc Stein reports.

    The second year of the deal is a team option.


    Buying or Selling?

    How can you not buy the Rockets signing another shooter?

    Through his first two seasons in the league, Williams shot better than 35 percent from beyond the arc, including a 42.3 percent clip in his sophomore season with the Warriors.

    The last two years have seen him struggle quite a bit. He's connected on fewer than 31 percent of his treys.

    But that was with the Bobcats, who aren't exactly known for developing their players. Houston is hoping it may have found a three-point shooting savant in the rough.

Rockets to Speak with John Lucas

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    The Buzz

    Jody Genessy of the Desert News reports that John Lucas will speak to the Rockets sometime this week.

    After a breakout, lockout-truncated campaign with the Bulls, Lucas spent all of last season with the Raptors.


    Buying or Selling?

    Our only option is to buy.

    If the Rockets are serious about, or even considering trading Jeremy Lin, they need to have other point guards in place not-named Patrick Beverley or James Harden.

    Lucas can come off the bench and provide some valuable minutes as a backup, something he showed while in Chicago.

    He's fresh off a rough season in Toronto, where he shot just 38.6 percent from the field, but he was logging a mere 13.1 minutes a night. Houston is bound to be intrigued by his 37.7 percent three-point clip as well.

    Adding a point guard like Lucas doesn't mean Lin's day in Houston are numbered, though if Lucas joins the Rockets, look for the trade rumors to heat up.

Royce White Traded to Philadelphia 76ers

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    The Buzz

    As reported by Yahoo! Sports' Adrian Wojnarowski, the Houston Rockets have traded Royce White to the Philadelphia 76ers in exchange for, "future draft considerations." 

    The 2012 first-round draft pick never got off to a successful start with the Rockets, thanks in large part to the roster's wealth of front-court talent—including fellow rookie Terrence Jones. The more pressing concern for Houston, however, was clearing as much cap space as possible in order to make Dwight Howard a lucrative offer.

    We all know how that turned out.


    Buying or Selling?

    Anything that helped the Rockets land Howard has to be a smart move, right? The roster still boasts plenty of young talent and capable role players, so it won't lose much depth in White.

    The move will also give White an opportunity to find a better fit with the suddenly very-rebuilding Sixers. He's never lacked talent, and his unique skill set—a rugged forward who can pass like a guard—could find room to blossom on a team looking to develop young talent while it awaits its chance at the 2014 draft class.

    Too soon to declare the deal a win-win, but Houston did what it had to do.

Houston Re-Signs Francisco Garcia

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    The Buzz

    Francisco Garcia will be coming back to Houston, per a report from Yahoo! Sports' Marc Spears.

    The Rockets deal with Garcia will be worth $2.6 million for two years, according to Spears.

    Garcia played just 18 games for the Rockets following his trade from Sacramento, but shined in the playoffs, averaging 10.7 points and shot 46 percent from the three-point line.


    Buying or Selling? 

    Well the Rockets bought him, so you might as well buy it too.

    Houston needed to keep a guy around who could come off the bench and shoot a bit, and Garcia was the obvious choice over the extremely streaky Carlos Delfino.

The Rockets Nab Omri Casspi

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    The Buzz

    The Houston Rockets, in an attempt to surround Dwight Howard with shooters coming off the bench, inked Omri Casspi to a two-year, $2 million deal, according to Yahoo! Sports' Adrian Wojnarowski.

    Casspi played in just 43 games for the Cleveland Cavaliers last season, averaging four points on 33 percent shooting from the three-point line.

    While he was woeful for Cleveland, Casspi did shoot 37 percent from the three-point line in two seasons with the Sacramento Kings, so there could be some value to be harvested.


    Buying or Selling?

    It's not a terrible gamble for Houston, who nabbed Casspi for just north of what his minimum contract would have been.

    If he regains his shooting touch that he showed off in Sacramento, it's a solid grab for the Rockets.

Rockets Sign Aaron Brooks

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    The Buzz

    According to an official press release from the Houston Rockets, Aaron Brooks will be returning to the team on a one-year deal. The details of the contract have not been released, but it will presumably be a minimum contract given the Rockets lack of financial flexibility. 

    Brooks spent seven games with Houston in 2012-13, averaging only 1.4 points and 0.9 assists per game. 


    Buying or Selling?

    Brooks is no longer a standout player, and he's declined enough that a sudden breakout from the speedy point guard could result in a second Most Improved Player award. 

    However, that's not going to happen. I'll buy this one, but only so that Brooks can serve as a reserve player in case of an injury to either Jeremy Lin or Patrick Beverley.