The Houston Rockets's willingness to trade for Orlando Magic center Dwight Howard even if he refuses to sign a contract extension with them--to trade for Howard on a rental basis, so to speak--is one of the NBA's worst-kept secrets. And as Chad Ford and Marc Stein report jointly for ESPN.com, the Rockets haven't given up on renting the superstar: they're looking to obtain two top-ten picks in Thursday's NBA Draft in order to create a strong trade package for new Magic GM Rob Hennigan to consider.
If Houston can parlay its assets, perhaps budding star point guard Kyle Lowry and its 14th and 16th overall picks, into two high-lottery selections, then it could turn around and offer those new picks, as well as expiring contracts such as Samuel Dalembert and Kevin Martin, to the Magic in exchange for Howard and one of the Magic's bad deals.
As Ford and Stein note, this trade would be a tough sell for Hennigan, who only took the job Wednesday and may not be looking to trade Howard just yet. And for him to even consider such a transaction, the Rockets would have to wheel and deal themselves in order to get those high draft picks, so the possibility of a Howard trade to the Rockets looks slim. But it's early in the NBA offseason. Stay tuned.