NBA Trade Rumors: Dwight Howard May Be Off Trade Block As Houston Rockets Surge

The NBA trade rumors have centered squarely on Dwight Howard for weeks, but now with the Houston Rockets surging and Howard anchoring the run, there is growing talk that he is off the trade block this year.

The Rockets have won six out of their last 10 games to pull to .500, and at 22-22 are in the No. 7 spot in the Western Conference. Howard’s play has been a huge part of this, as he is finally feeling up to 100 percent after missing time in the preseason with back stiffness.

Howard said he notices the difference in his play.

“Earlier in the season, missing most of the preseason, not being able to get in a rhythm, not being able to practice (is) very tough to go out there in the game and perform,” Howard said (via ESPN). “As of late — the last couple of weeks, last month — I’ve been able to get a couple of good practices in, really get good individual work in, and its paying off.”

While the Houston Rockets are still not on par with Western Conference powerhouses San Antonio or Golden State, Howard’s play has them solidly in playoff contention. And with that, the NBA trade rumors have quieted as well.

Steve Kyler of Basketball Insiders believes that Howard is not keen on leaving the Rockets in July, as many had speculated

“While this may sound like semantics, Houston Rockets big man Dwight Howard does not have an opt-out in his contract. The wording of his deal is an opt-in. While it is functionally the same, the process is slightly different. Howard will be a free agent in July and that was always what was agreed to when he signed in Houston. This was always part of Houston’s thinking and it was part of their free agency pitch. The option year was simply injury protection, as the plan from the first day in Houston was that Howard would ink a new deal this summer.”

Kyler added that this contract structure goes against the prevailing NBA trade rumors saying that Dwight Howard would walk away in July, thus forcing the Rockets to look for a trade now to find some value. Kyler said it may be true that Howard tests free agency this summer, but he still looks to be a key part of Houston’s future.

“That’s not to say a blockbuster deal landing on Houston’s doorstep wouldn’t get consideration – it means there isn’t much there worth talking about, especially as it pertains to Howard,” he wrote. “It is still very possible that the Rockets pull the trigger on a deadline-related trade. They have guys with trade value who could help a team for a stretch run. But what’s become very clear is that Howard likely won’t be moved.”

There had been speculation on a number of potential landing spots for Howard, including the Chicago Bulls and Boston Celtics. But none of these rumors were substantiated, relying solely on speculation with no real reports that the team was engaged in any talks.

While the NBA trade rumors are fading away from Dwight Howard, there are still reports that the Rockets could make some moves. The team is reportedly interested in adding some additional pieces, and is already on the move. On Friday they landed Josh Smith in a trade with the Los Angeles Clippers.

[Picture by Scott Halleran/Getty Images]

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