The Houston Rockets were expected to be among this offseason's most active franchises, but if recent reports come to fruition, general manager Daryl Morey could be on the precipice of shaking the NBA's foundation to its core.
There has been no confirmation from Howard's camp or Houston about that report, but its veracity if picking up steam. Dan Fegan, Howard's agent, Dan Fegan, told Yahoo! Sports' Adrian Wojnarowski that a decision won't be done until late Friday or Saturday morning, but sources also told Wojnarowski the Rockets and the 27-year-old center were merely hashing out the contract.
For his part, Houston general manager Daryl Morey has denied that Howard had informed him of a decision.
Regardless, the ripple effect of Amick's report has been palpable.
NBA league source tells me Hawks and Rockets working on sign and trade for Josh Smith— Zach Klein (@ZachKleinWSB) July 5, 2013
The impetus on such a deal would be to create a "big three" that could challenge the Miami Heat. Smith and Howard were the two most sought after free agents on the market after Chris Paul returned to the Los Angeles Clippers. The athletic big men would then be paired with incumbents James Harden and Chandler Parsons, creating a core that could challenge any in the NBA.
Whether either deal will go down is anyone's guess at this point.
There have been conflicting reports about whether Houston and Atlanta have had contact yet. Chris Broussard of ESPN tweeted that the two sides have already had discussions on the deal, an agreement that could include Jeremy Lin and Omer Asik:
I'm told Hawks and Rockets working on sign&trade to bring Josh Smith to Hou, probably for Asik and JLin— Chris Broussard (@Chris_Broussard) July 5, 2013
However, Yahoo! Sports' Adrian Wojnarowski is reporting that that the two sides have not had discussions yet, though they could be immanent:
Houston and Atlanta haven't discussed a Josh Smith sign-and-trade, but that's a conversation that could happen soon, league sources tell Y!— Adrian Wojnarowski (@WojYahooNBA) July 6, 2013
Either way, the Howard effect has already created some unhappy campers on the Rockets' current roster. ESPN's Brian Windhorst reported that Asik has no intentions of playing behind or alongside Howard and will request a trade if he signs in Houston.
Wojnarowski notes that the New Orleans Pelicans, one of this offseason's most active franchises, are interested in acquiring Asik:
New Orleans has shown strong interest in acquiring Rockets center Omer Asik, w/ an offer likely centered on Ryan Anderson, sources tell Y!— Adrian Wojnarowski (@WojYahooNBA) July 6, 2013
With Howard's official decision expected to come within the next 24 hours, this should be an awfully interesting time for the Rockets. They would need to part with Lin and Asik's contracts to be able to lock up both Howard and Smith, both of whom are likely to command maximum or near-max contracts.
Howard can sign for a maximum of $88 million over four years. Smith's contract situation is more in flux, though Houston would shed $16.7 million in 2013-14 salary in dealing Lin and Asik.
As information continues to trickle in from Houston, be sure to check back here for the latest news and rumors on Howard, Smith and the rest of the lot.
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