The Houston Rockets are reportedly in discussion with the Charlotte Hornets for a potential Dwight Howard blockbuster trade, according to NBA insider Marc Stein of ESPN.
Stein said he was told by a reliable league source about the exploratory talks between the Rockets and Hornets regarding Howard’s availability.
The Hornets, who just acquired Courtney Lee in a three-team trade with the Memphis Grizzlies and the Miami Heat early Tuesday, became the latest team to express interest in Howard.
“Sources told ESPN.com that the Hornets and Rockets have held exploratory talks on a potential Howard deal since Houston made him available last week. But one source close to the talks expressed pessimism Tuesday that the sides will be able to find common ground on a deal.”
The Hornets are one game over .500 (27-26) and currently hold the eight spot in the Eastern Conference. However, with Michael Kidd-Gilchrist set to undergo a season-ending shoulder injury and Al Jefferson struggling with knee problems throughout the season, the Hornets are attempting to pull off a huge midseason deadline coup by trading for Howard.
As what Stein reported, there’s a prevailing concern that this trade discussion won’t materialize and eventually die off. The Rockets are asking for a first-round pick in addition to the players they will be getting from the Hornets.
Yet, there remains a glimmer of hope for the Hornets to make this deal happen by putting up an enticing trade package. Charlotte could send the expiring contract of Jefferson, a still promising talent in Kidd-Gilchrist, a veteran playmaker in Lin and a first-round pick to Houston in exchange for Howard (see trade machine).
Jefferson, who is a flat-out double-double machine when healthy, will become an unrestricted free-agent at the end of the season. Howard can join him if he opts from the final year of his deal.
Kidd-Gilchrist (who is under contract for four more years after this season) has a lot of upside left in him despite the injuries, while Lin has been on the Rockets’ radar for quite some time.
On the other hand, the Hornets will finally get a rim protector and a legit superstar who could get them to the next level. Howard is averaging 14.6 points, 12.0 rebounds and 1.5 blocks in 32 minutes per contest.
The Hornets will have until 3:00 p.m on Thursday to decide if they go all in for Howard.