NBA Trade Rumors: Dwight Howard Could End Up Staying In Houston As Rockets Plan To Go After Kevin Durant

The NBA trade rumors have been quite fickle when it comes to Dwight Howard, with the latest reports claiming that the big man is off the trading block as the Houston Rockets plan to re-sign him in the offseason and also make a run at another superstar — Kevin Durant.

Trade rumors have surrounded Howard and the Rockets as the NBA trade deadline nears, but in the last week, those talks have quieted down. Sources close to the team now say there is only a very small chance that Howard could end up being traded, as the master plan for the Rockets is to bring him back and make Houston a more attractive destination for Durant when he likely become a free agent this summer.

ESPN‘s Calvin Watkins and Marc Stein reported that the Rockets will be holding onto Dwight Howard, even though his contract will be up, because the team is confident that he will re-sign.

The report added, “The Rockets’ grand plan, sources said this week, remains making an all-out pursuit in free agency this summer for Oklahoma City Thunder star Kevin Durant. Rockets officials have long believed privately that they will have as good a chance as any team to lure Durant away from the Thunder in the offseason because of his strong relationship with former teammate James Harden and the room Houston has to pay Durant max-contract money while also re-signing Howard.”

But even with those reports, the NBA trade rumors surrounding Dwight Howard remain murky. This week, there was a separate report claiming that the Boston Celtics had been inquiring about Howard and possibly gauging his price. While this does not imply that the Rockets would actually trade him, the Celtics kicking the tires on Howard indicate that those around the league don’t see him as off-limits.

As CBS Sports noted, Celtics general manager Danny Ainge has been known to show a lot of patience when making a deal, including waiting out the market to trade Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett. That same patience could pay off if the Rockets end up wavering on their plans or if Howard gives indications that he may test the free agent waters rather than sign with the team.

The Houston Rockets could have other problems even if they do end up re-signing Howard. For one, the market for Kevin Durant is expected to be incredibly crowded, so they would likely end up paying a very high price to land him.

Howard already commands a large contract that would make it difficult to fill in the rest of the spaces, NESN noted.

“The challenge for the Rockets in that scenario would be filling out the rest of the roster with quality role players. This situation becomes a lot more difficult if they’re not willing to go into the luxury tax. The Miami Heat from 2011 through 2014 and the Boston Celtics from 2008 through 2010 were able to surround their Big 3 with enough depth to compete for and win a championship. It’s not easy, though, just look at the Chris Paul-era Los Angeles Clippers or LeBron James’ Cleveland Cavaliers. These teams haven’t figured out how to surround their superstar core with the right role players.”

But given how quickly the NBA trade rumors regarding Dwight Howard have shifted, it wouldn’t be a surprise to see a lot more action before the February 18 trade deadline.

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