| 4 years ago||
Cut Scola and take on 3 bad contracts with Dwight
With the Brooklyn Nets going another direction, the Rockets could be in the driver’s seat to land disgruntled Magic star center Dwight Howard. The problem, as it has been for months, is getting the continuing talks to go far enough.
Talks on Wednesday grew “serious,” and at one point seemed close to an agreement, according to a person familiar with the process, but the Magic backed off to consider their options.
Rockets are open to the three-team deal in which they would receive Lakers center Andrew Bynum with Howard going to the Los Angeles Lakers, but are primarily working directly with the Magic to acquire Howard, the individual with knowledge of the talks said.
Getting in position for the planned next move will be difficult. To create enough cap room for the kind of blockbuster trade that has been proposed, the Rockets are considering making veteran forward Luis Scola an amnesty cut, likely in the next 48 hours, a person with knowledge of the move said. That would create enough cap room for the Rockets to take on the additional contracts necessary to complete a trade for Howard.
Scola, 32, is due $21 million guaranteed over the next three season. The Rockets could wait until July 17 to make Scola an amnesty cut, in which he would receive his full guaranteed salary but not count against the salary cap or luxury tax figures, but received information that he would have a better chance of moving to a stronger team if the move was made quickly.
The Rockets’ chances to land Howard greatly improved on Wednesday when Brooklyn, Howard’s preferred destination, removed itself from the race. The Nets signed center Brook Lopez to a four-year deal, worth $60.8 million, duplicating the max offer he could have gotten elsewhere and taking Brooklyn out of trade talks with the Magic.
Orlando general manager Rob Hennigan called reports that the Magic had broken off trade talks in general “false.” The Rockets have been in frequent talks with the Magic throughout the day on Wednesday, a person with knowledge of the process said.
For the Rockets, a key to either deal would be the ability to take on the contracts of as many as three Orlando veterans.
To trade Howard, the Magic will seek to move some of the long-term contracts they had collected when trying to surround Howard with veterans Jason Richardson, Hedo Turkoglu and Chris Duhon. Richardson, 31, has three seasons and $18.6 million remaining on his contract. Turkoglu, 33, is signed for two more years and is owed $23.8 million. Duhon has two years and $7.5 million remaining on his contract.
The Rockets could make a minor move in free agency, including potentially signing former Rockets guard Aaron Brooks, but will be careful about using too much cap space, even if they do cut Scola.
They completed the trade to get the draft pick they would need in a deal, officially sending guard Kyle Lowry to the Toronto Raptors for a first round pick. The Raptors will convey the pick if it falls between four and 14 next season. If the Raptors are either in the playoffs or picking in the top three picks, they would convey the pick the next season if it falls between the third and 14th picks the following two seasons. If they still have not moved the pick, it would be protected for two more seasons only if in the lottery but not among the top two picks of the draft.
If after five seasons, the Raptors have still kept the pick, they would convey the pick the following season no matter where it fell.
The Rockets’ sign-and-trade deal with New York, with Marcus Camby signing with the Knicks and New York sending the Rockets guard Toney Douglas, Josh Harrellson and Jerome Jordan, and two second-round pick, was also approved. Harrellson will join the Rockets summer league team today.
The trade is not considered complete until the players involved all pass their physicals, forcing the Rockets to hold off on signing Jeremy Lin and Omer Asik to offer sheets. The Knicks have said they will match Lin’s offer sheet, with New York coach Mike Woodson saying on Wednesday he is the Knicks starting point guard. The Bulls are expected to match Asik’s offer sheet. That deal is not expected to impact the pursuit of Howard, no matter what the Bulls decide.
The priority remains the pursuit of Howard with the Rockets moving in that direction on Wednesday until ending the day with the deal still stuck in neutral.