The rebuilding Houston Rockets remain in the hunt for a superstar and are prepared to make a lucrative trade offer for one, with Orlando Magic All-Star center Dwight Howard at or near the top of their wishlist, reports ClutchFans.net. Indeed, Houston was close to landing Howard from the Magic at the 2012 NBA trading deadline: ClutchFans reports Daryl Morey, Houston's General Manager, "was the last one standing in the Howard chase." Further, in the lead-up to the March 15th deadline, Rockets management "believed they were going to land Howard later that day."
Orlando elected not to trade Howard, but only because he agreed to waive the Early Termination Option in his contract. The ETO would have enabled him to become a free agent on July 1st, 2012, but after waiving it, he won't enter free agency until one year later. Had Howard not waived his ETO, ClutchFans reports, he would have indeed become a Houston Rocket.
Houston is still interested in Howard, even only as a so-called "rental." Most teams would only trade for the three-time Defensive Player of the Year with assurances that he'd sign a long-term contract extension with the club, but the Rockets appear to be willing to take a risk with Howard by acquiring him with just one season left before free agency.
As ClutchFans notes, the Rockets have a stable of assets--"cap room, two first-round draft picks and a willingness to trade just about anyone"--that could intrigue the Magic, or any team looking to divest itself of a superstar in order to begin rebuilding.