As if the bad bitches at the Galleria weren't enough, Houston is pulling out all the stops to make sure Dwight Howard is in a Rockets uniform next season. Hakeem Olajuwon and Clyde Drexler were in the house to woo Howard, while Dikembe Mutombo and Yao Ming even popped in via Skype. Meanwhile, in Los Angeles...billboards.
At a meeting just after the negotiation window opened at midnight yesterday, James Harden and Chandler Parsons pitched Howard, and coach Kevin McHale promised that the team would be constructed around him. But one intriguing note is buried in this Houston Chronicle report: Howard reportedly asked GM Daryl Morey if the Rockets would be able to afford another max contract, beyond himself and Harden.
Two problems with that. First, the Rockets have already had to work to clear enough space to afford Howard, waiving Aaron Brooks and Carlos Delfino and trading Thomas Robinson. There's a report that they're shopping Jeremy Lin and Omer Asik, meaning that if another max deal is coming down the pike, this team is pretty much gutted, especially at the guard spots.
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Second, who else out there is worthy of a max contract? Josh Smith? Andrew Bynum? Andre Iguodala? After Chris Paul re-signs with the Clippers, the pickings are slim. The allure of a Big Three is undeniable after Miami won its second straight, but nothing about it was easy, and Chris Bosh getting dominated as the playoffs went along showed that just because a guy can command a max deal doesn't mean he's worth it.
Supposedly, the Rockets are supremely confident that Howard will sign.
"They already have him, if you talk to them," one league source said.
The Hawks and Warriors, both long shots, took their turns pitching Howard Monday, and the Mavericks are up this morning. But it should come down to the Rockets and the Lakers, who will get the last chance to win Howard's affections at a meeting later today.
The Lakers delegation is expected to include Kobe Bryant, Steve Nash, Mike D'Antoni, Mitch Kupchak, Jim Buss, marketing head Tim Harris, and representatives from Tim Warner cable, who will sell Howard on TV opportunities. Not present? Phil Jackson and Magic Johnson, both of whom are on vacation. But they tweeted at Dwight! So that's something.