The NBA Draft is Thursday night, but the Houston Rockets have already begun making moves for the big night. Currently, the Rockets have the 14th, 16th and 18th picks in the draft. They acquired the 18th pick today from the Minnesota Timberwolves for Chase Budinger and the rights to Lior Eliyahu. It is also rumored that the Rockets are seeking to trade their point guard Kyle Lowery, their 14th pick in the draft and their 16th pick in the draft to Sacramento for Tyreke Evans and their 5th overall pick in the draft.
The Rockets have been very busy and remain aggressive in their pursuit of an NBA superstar. The Rockets were part of the trade that would have sent Chris Paul to the Lakers and Pau Gasol to Houston at the beginning of last season that was later rejected by the NBA. Many believe that these moves are being made to collect enough assets to acquire Dwight Howard from the Orlando Magic. Dwight Howard is currently under contract through the 2012-2013 season. Howard has said on numerous occasions that he would like to stay in Orlando, but many believe that he would like to be traded to a bigger market such as New York or Los Angeles.
I respect Houston for being aggressive in going after an NBA superstar, but they should be realistic here. If they trade for Dwight Howard they will be doing a sign and trade with either the Lakers or the Nets a season from now. There are also reports out there that the Rockets are still interested in acquiring Pau Gasol from the Lakers and potentially acquiring Josh Smith from the Atlanta Hawks. The Houston Rockets finished last season 34-32 and finished one spot out of the playoffs. They have spent the last few years stocking up on players and draft picks that could be used as trade bait. They are ready to take the next step in their search for their first NBA title since 1995 when they had Hakeem Olajuwon. Their current head coach is former Celtic great, Kevin McHale. He was a dominant big man in his day and could potentially do wonders for Dwight Howard’s career. Olajuwon still lives in Houston and worked with Dwight Howard one on one during last off season.
The potential blockbuster trade makes sense, but only if Dwight Howard plans on staying in Houston for the next 5 or so years. I expect Howard to eventually end up in Brooklyn with Jay Z and Deron Williams. I imagine that the Rockets will end up settling for Josh Smith from the Atlanta Hawks and teeter around the 8th seed of the playoffs for years to come. In the end, only time will tell and we will just have to wait and see what plays out between now and Thursday night.