John Smith could be the next big free-agent signing for the Houston Rockets, just days after the team lured Howard away from the Los Angeles Lakers.
Sources say Houston is trying to add to its already busy offseason by adding the free agent forward from the Atlanta Hawks. Houston is reportedly working out a way to get both Howard and Josh Smith under contract for next year.
Bringing Howard on board — as long as the process is finalized — was already quite a coup. The Los Angeles Lakers pulled out all the stops in trying to keep their big man, involving Kobe Bryant and Steve Nash on the pitch and reportedly offering Dwight his own television show. But despite being able to offer $30 million more in total than other teams, the Lakers couldn’t beat out the opportunity Dwight saw in Houston.
“[A championship is] the priority. That’s the priority. [Shoot], I’m betting $30 million on it,” Howard told ESPNLosAngeles.com in a phone interview Friday night.
If Houston can pull off the deal for Josh Smith, it would immediately make the team a contender in the Western Conference. Last season the Rockets brought in James Harden in a trade with Oklahoma City that’s looking more and more like an outright steal, and the addition of Howard and Smith to a roster that won 45 games already could put Houston over the top.
The Rockets might actually be helped by the discontent of their other big man. Center Omer Asik was said to be upset with the Dwight Howard acquisition, vowing not to play for the team. The Rockets are now reportedly looking into the possibility of a sign-and-trade deal with Atlanta to bring Smith on board.
Once deal is finalized with Howard and Houston, Asik could be sent to Atlanta in sign-and-trade for Josh Smith. Dallas also pushing.
— Ken Berger (@KBergCBS) July 5, 2013
The 27-year-old Smith has spent his entire career in Atlanta and been one of its most consistent players. Last season Josh Smith averaged 17.5 points and 8.4 rebounds per game.
[Josh Smith photo by Keith Allison via Wikimedia Commons]