The Houston Rockets have upped their offer for Orlando’s Dwight Howard, committing to take back even more long-term salary from the Magic than before in hopes of convincing Orlando to consent to trade Howard directly to Houston.
Sources told ESPN.com that the Rockets, if they go ahead with their widely reported plans to release starting power forward Luis Scola via the NBA’s amnesty clause, are prepared to absorb the contracts of Jason Richardson, Glen Davis and Chris Duhon and send Orlando multiple future first-round picks and recent draftees — to give the Magic an opportunity to wipe their payroll virtually clean for their post-Howard rebuilding effort.
Rockets general manager Daryl Morey is feverishly trying to construct a trade that will allow the Rockets to take back, in addition to Howard, some combination of Richardson, Davis, Duhon and even Hedo Turkoglu. With Scola’s three remaining seasons valued at roughly $21 million off the books, the Rockets believe they can create the needed cap space to do so.
Today thus looms as a pivotal day in the Rockets’ all-out quest to trade for Howard. Not only is Houston expected to formally waive Scola , but sources say the Rockets will also finalize their long-awaited offer sheet to the New York Knicks’ Jeremy Lin. The Knicks have been adamant that they will match Houston’s four-year offer to Lin valued at just under $29 million, but they can take three days to do so once Lin signs.
The Rockets have also committed a four-year offer sheet worth just over $25 million to Chicago Bulls restricted free agent Omer Askik. It’s believed that the Rockets will make Asik’s offer sheet official after the Knicks match on Lin, but Asik’s fate is less certain, with the Bulls said to be wavering on whether to bring the bruising big man back. The Rockets promised offer sheets to Asik and Lin early in free agency — and are thus honor-bound to go through with them to ensure that they’ll suffer no future repercussions from agents or players in free agency — but it’s possible that Houston is secretly rooting for both offer sheets to be matched. In that scenario, the Rockets would have more cap space to try to get the Orlando trade done, which is clearly their No. 1 priority.