Do the Houston Rockets have a realistic chance at landing Dwight Howard?

dwight howard rockets

Plenty of speculation has already been flying around about the Houston Rockets being one of the possible destinations this off-season for free agent Dwight Howard.  While GM Daryl Morey should absolutely be aggressive in pursuing Howard this summer, he also needs to be realistic about how to upgrade the Rocket roster.

Houston Rockets (45-37 last year)

2012-13 Season Summary:
The Houston Rockets have gone through a massive turnover on their roster the past season-plus.  In fact, Chandler Parsons was the only player on the roster who had been with Houston for two seasons.  That makeover paid off in a massive way when General Manager Daryl Morey pulled the trigger on landing James Harden who proved he could be the star player on a franchise and then some.

The Rockets were also aggressive in free agency, bringing in Omer Asik and Jeremy Lin.  Lin didn’t provide a huge boost like he did when he burst onto the scene in New York but was steady throughout the season.  On the other hand, Asik exceeded my expectations becoming a double-double threat every night and adding a needed inside presence.  Parsons had a terrific sophomore campaign and is quickly developing into a complete player on both ends of the floor.

Outside of those four players, there weren’t too many bright spots.  First round picks Terrence Jones and Royce White were non-factors, especially White who didn’t play a single game in the association because of his off-the-court issues.  Houston dealt Patrick Patterson for Thomas Robinson and the former fifth overall pick struggled more so with the Rockets than he did in Sacramento to the point that he played himself out of the lineup.

Houston did get quality contributions from veterans like Carlos Delfino and Patrick Beverly who was signed midway through the season.  Francisco Garcia was also acquired in the Robinson trade and added some experience and feistiness off the bench.

The Rockets are putting together some of the key pieces to once again become factors in the Western Conference but still are a ways away from climbing to the top of the mountain.

2013-14 Projected Depth Chart:
C: Omer Asik/*Greg Smith/Donatas Motiejunas/*Tim Ohlbrecht
PF: Thomas Robinson/Terrence Jones/Royce White
SF: Chandler Parsons/*Carlos Delfino/*Francisco Garcia
SG: James Harden/*James Anderson
PG: Jeremy Lin/*Patrick Beverly/*Aaron Brooks

NBA Free Agents:
*F-Chandler Parsons (TO)
*SF-Carlos Delfino (TO)
*SF-Francisco Garcia (TO)
*PG-Aaron Brooks (TO)
*PG-Patrick Beverly (TO)
*C-Greg Smith (TO)
*C-Tim Ohlbrecht (TO)
*SG-James Anderson (TO)

2013-14 Team Salary: approximately $33.2 million

Team Needs:
1. Be Aggressive, but Realistic:  The Houston Rockets have the cap space to make a serious run at one of the big name free agents available this summer.  Dwight Howard’s name comes up most frequently but I don’t know how realistic that possibility is.  While the Rockets have the cap space to make a push at Howard or Chris Paul, they might be better off setting their sights on someone like Josh Smith, Andre Iguodala, or Paul Millsap.

2. Power Forward: There is no way Houston can feel comfortable entering next season with Robinson, Jones, White, Smith, or Motiejunas being their starting power forward.  There have already been rumors that Morey will try to move Robinson this summer in hopes of clearing up some cap space to make a run at a marquee free agent.  Whatever the case may be, the Rockets need to find an upgrade at power forward.

3. Veteran Role Players: With the Rockets owning team options on more than a handful of players including some veteran role players, they figure to let those players walk with the plan of maintaining as much cap space as possible.  However it shakes out with their attempt to add another superstar, Houston must fill their roster out with inexpensive veterans who can be temporary stopgaps or provide some short term punch off the bench.

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David Kay is a senior feature NBA DraftNBA, and college basketball writer for the Sports Bank.  He also heads up the NBA and college basketball material at Walter and is a former contributor at The Washington Times Communities.  David has appeared on numerous national radio programs spanning from Cleveland to New Orleans to Honolulu.  He also had the most accurate 2011 NBA Mock Draft and the most accurate 2012 NBA Mock Draft on the internet (Yup, repeat champ… #humblebrag.)

You can follow him on Twitter at David_Kmiecik.

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