Dwight Howard, Agent Comment on Trade Rumors, Rockets Plans and More

Tyler Conway@jtylerconwayFeatured ColumnistFebruary 11, 2016

Houston Rockets center Dwight Howard (12) in the first quarter during an NBA basketball game against the Phoenix Suns, Thursday, Feb. 4, 2016, in Phoenix. (AP Photo/Rick Scuteri)
Rick Scuteri/Associated Press

Dan Fegan, the agent for Dwight Howard, denied reports that surfaced Thursday saying he was working with the Houston Rockets on a potential trade for the former All-Star center.  

"I'm not privy to what the Rockets are doing or not doing with respect to Dwight Howard," Fegan told Marc Stein of ESPN.com. "What I can say, with 100 percent certainty, is that Dwight has not and has never asked the Rockets for a trade. And neither have I."

"Dan's statement is true," Howard said, per Stein. "I have not asked the Rockets to trade me. Nor have I talked about right trades. I want to win. I want this situation to work. I chose this team. And I'm not running because we have been faced with some adversity."

Adrian Wojnarowski of The Vertical previously reported the Rockets were actively seeking out trade partners and had been working with Fegan on a possible list of contenders. Zach Lowe of ESPN reported the Raptors were contacted but have "no interest."

Howard, 30, is averaging 14.8 points, 12.0 rebounds and 1.5 blocks per game this season. Nearly all of his usage statistics are at or near his career lows, as the Rockets' offensive philosophy has seemingly abandoned him at times. This is the first time since Howard's rookie season that he has not attempted at least 10 shots per game.

The Rockets enter the All-Star break at 27-28, having dropped their last three games and six of their last eight. They're a far cry from the Western Conference finalist they were a year ago and have already gone through one coaching change. Howard has nonetheless stayed positive despite the upheaval—at least publicly.

In a December interview with Sam Amick of USA Today, Howard denied he was looking for a way out:

I chose to go to Houston (via free agency in the summer of 2013), so why would I just say, 'I'm not happy' and leave? I chose this place, you know what I'm saying? And I want to make this thing work here. Obviously we haven't been playing great basketball, and personally for myself my numbers don't seem like I've been playing great, but the only thing on my mind is trying to grow as a man and grow as a teammate and a leader. All the BS that's around, sometimes it is frustrating to hear it, because I know who I am as a man and I know what I'm trying to do for this city.

Making matters complicated is Howard's contract status. He has a player option for the 2016-17 season at $23.28 million. While that seems relatively fair given his downturn in production, Howard is widely expected to decline that option and re-enter free agency this summer. With a majority of the league boasting max-level cap room because of the new television deal kicking in, Howard may wind up landing a new nine-figure deal based on name value alone.

The Rockets, ever the forward-looking organization, likely see that as unpalatable. Howard is an aging center with a history of knee issues. His biggest transcendent trait has also long been his athleticism, which is typically the first to go with age. Paying him $20-plus million well into his mid-30s probably doesn't sound too appealing to Daryl Morey and Co. at this point.

The problem will be finding any takers who will help Houston recoup relatively similar value.

Follow Tyler Conway (@jtylerconway) on Twitter.


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