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Report: Dwight Howard will sign with Houston Rockets

Dwight Howard SupermanThe Houston Rockets emerged as the favorite to land Dwight Howard in free agency, and it looks like they have.

USA Today’s Sam Amick reports that Howard will join the Rockets. The decision has not been officially announced yet, but all indications are that Howard has narrowed down the teams in which he is interested.

Mark Cuban confirmed that Howard informed the Dallas Mavericks that they were out in his sweepstakes.

Marcus Thompson of the Bay Area News Group says Howard called the Golden State Warriors to inform them he would not be signing with the team.

Chris Vivlamore of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution also says Howard called the Hawks to tell them he would not be signing with the team.

TNT’s David Aldridge also confirmed Amick’s that Howard will sign with Houston, as did CBS Sports’ Ken Berger.

The only teams that remain are the Rockets and Lakers, and it looks like Houston will be the team. We can thank Slim Thug for his strong sales pitch to Dwight for having a role in the decision.

Daryl Morey’s daughter makes pitch to Dwight Howard for Rockets (Video)

Daryl-Morey-daughter-Dwight-howardDwight Howard is expected to make a decision on where he will sign on Friday, meaning teams are running out of time to make their sales pitch. The Golden State Warriors have reportedly been desperately trying to clear out salary cap space after meeting with Howard earlier this week, which has led to speculation that they could be about to sign the big man.

The Houston Rockets were once believed to be a legitimate contender to land Howard, and that may still be the case. On Friday morning, Rockets GM Daryl Morey posted the video you see above on Twitter with the following message:

[Related: Kobe Bryant makes questionable pitch for Dwight Howard]

I suppose that could tug at the heart strings a bit, though rapper Slim Thug already gave a list of extremely compelling reasons why Howard should sign with the Rockets. If Howard does end up signing with Houston, Morey’s daughter can say she helped land the biggest free agent of the 2013 offseason.

H/T Ball Don’t Lie

Rockets reportedly receive ‘hopeful signs’ they can land Dwight Howard

Dwight-Howard-LakersThe fact that Dwight Howard did not fully enjoy his first season with the Los Angeles Lakers is not a secret, but would he really leave $30 million on the table to make it his last? Howard has made it clear that he will explore all options when NBA free agency begins in a month, but the Lakers can offer him a five-year deal worth $120 million. Any other team could offer only four years and $90 million, giving LA a clear advantage — right?

Maybe not. As always, tax talk has come into play. According to ESPN.com’s Marc Stein, the Rockets have received “hopeful signals” that Howard is legitimately considering signing with Houston over the Lakers next month. Howard has reportedly expressed serious interest in teaming with James Harden, who said earlier this offseason that he would be active in recruiting free agents to come to Houston.

Now, back to the taxes. Stein pointed out that there are no state taxes in Texas, which narrows the gap between the contracts the two teams could offer. In addition, it is likely Howard would opt out of any five-year deal he signed with the Lakers before the fifth year anyway, making him a free agent before their “advantage” over other teams even comes into play.

On ESPN’s First Take Friday morning, Stephen A. Smith described it as a “50-50 shot” that Dwight Howard is going to leave the Lakers. It is believed that the Rockets have been shopping Thomas Robinson, the No. 5 overall pick in the 2012 draft, to create the cap space they would need to sign a player like Howard.

Of course, we’re still talking about Dwight Howard. The big man was reportedly frustrated with Mike D’Antoni this past season, but for all we know that could have been resolved with a five-minute phone conversation. Howard loves the spotlight and loves changing his mind. Even if he does decide to return to LA, there’s no way he would do it without making the team sweat.

Andrew Bogut upset, tells Rockets ‘C U Next Tuesday’

Andrew BogutAndrew Bogut was upset with the Houston Rockets for running up the score Tuesday, so he responded by calling them out over Twitter after the game.

Bogut called the Rockets a dirty name while referencing the next meeting between the teams in his incredibly crafted tweet:

In case you couldn’t figure out the bad name Bogut called the Rockets, just look at the first letter of the first four terms he wrote.

Why was Bogut so steamed? The Rockets worked the Warriors 140-109 in Houston while making 23 3-pointers — one short of setting the NBA record. The home fans were chanting for the Rockets to get the record, but the Warriors wouldn’t allow it; they began fouling the Rockets to prevent them from attempting threes.

“We’re not going to lay down,” said Warriors coach Mark Jackson after the game. “So if you’re going to try to get the record, we’re going to stop you. There’s a way to get the record. That’s all.”

Rockets coach Kevin McHale shrugged off the game’s ending.

“We shoot a lot of threes,” said McHale. “That’s just what we do. Mark didn’t want it to happen so he fouls. I have no problem with how they played. Mark’s got to coach his team. I have no problem at all with that.”

Bogut had 10 points and nine rebounds in the loss — his fourth game back from an ankle injury. As he reference in his tweet, the teams will rematch in Oakland on Tuesday. We know who we’re picking to win that one.

H/T Minus Twenty-Two

Rockets fan didn’t like Luis Scola’s long hair, wrote GM Daryl Morey about it

Luis-Scola-RocketsLuis-Scola-letter

(click to enlarge)

Luis Scola was fairly productive for the Houston Rockets for five seasons before they waived him over the summer. He averaged 14.6 points and 7.7 rebounds per game, but one Houston fan was not happy with the big man — and it had nothing to do with his game.

As you can see from the image above that Rockets GM Daryl Morey posted on Twitter, a fan recently wrote him a letter thanking him for waiving Scola in the offseason. The fan’s reason? Scola was not well-groomed.

“For comic relief, a note I received this off-season,” Morey wrote. “They are probably disappointed in (James Harden).”

Talk about irony. Houston got rid of Scola and his long hair, but they also acquired arguably the most famously insane facial hair in all of professional sports. Name someone else whose beard has inspired a fruit arrangement, a dessert or the entrance to a building.

Of course, Harden is averaging over 25 points per game for the Rockets and has been their best player this season. Can he afford to trim his beard? I’d say so, but I’m guessing even the fan who wrote the letter wouldn’t want to risk throwing him off his game.

Rockets announcer Craig Ackerman: ‘The Lakers have just pooped their big boy pants!’ (Audio)

The Los Angeles Lakers held a 10-point lead over the Houston Rockets heading into the fourth quarter on Tuesday night, but that wasn’t enough to stop them from losing their second straight game and fifth in their last seven. Defense was a major issue for L.A. once again, which showed its age down the stretch and blew yet another comfortable fourth-quarter lead.

For Rockets radio announcer Craig Ackerman, saying that the Lakers blew it again simply wasn’t enough. Instead, Ackerman gave what is sure to be one of the great quotes of the 2012-2013 season.

“The game is over! The game is over!” Ackerman shouted as the final seconds expired. “The Lakers have just pooped their big boy pants and the Rockets have come from 17 down to win it, 107-105!”

[Read more...]

James Harden traded to Rockets for Kevin Martin, Jeremy Lamb

The Oklahoma City Thunder have agreed to trade James Harden to the Houston Rockets for Kevin Martin, Jeremy Lamb, and several draft picks.

Yahoo! Sports’ Adrian Wojnarowski first reported the news and says the trade comes after the Thunder and Harden were unable to agree on a contract extension. The two sides were days away from Wednesday night’s deadline for 2009 draft picks to sign an extension. Talks reportedly broke down after Harden rejected a four-year extension offer for between $53-54 million.

Wojnarowski reports that the Rockets will give Harden a four or five-year deal for maximum money by the deadline.

Both Wojnarowski and The Oklahoman’s Darnell Mayberry report that Cole Aldrich, Lazar Haywood, and Daequan Cook are headed to Houston along with Harden in the deal. The Rockets are sending Martin and Lamb as well as several picks in return.

The Thunder are receiving two protected first-round picks (from Toronto and Dallas) in 2013, as well as a second-round pick in 2013.

Harden is the reigning Sixth Man of the Year and the No. 3 overall draft pick in 2009. He has improved in every statistical category each of his three years in the league and will likely develop into an All-Star in Houston.

The Thunder have had difficult decisions to make about their future. They signed Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook to maximum contracts, and gave Serge Ibaka a four-year, $50 million extension in August. Those who felt the Ibaka deal would make it tough for the team to sign Harden long-term were correct.

Not only will Harden get at least a half-dozen million more by signing with Houston, but he also is going to Houston where there is no state income tax, which will mean even more money. His priorities will be questioned because he’s going from a team that reached the NBA Finals last season to a middling franchise, but maybe he believes he can help Houston become a top team. He also will finally be able to start after coming off the bench in Oklahoma City his entire career.

The Thunder made the difficult decision to trade Harden once he wouldn’t agree to take less than market value. They got back good value in return: a scorer in Martin (whose contract expires after the season), a rookie with potential in Lamb, and three picks. The Rockets were dissatisfied with being a mediocre team and coveted an All-Star. They got one in Harden. I think this trade will work out well for both sides.

Here’s the reaction to the trade from some NBA players, including Thunder players Kevin Durant and Eric Maynor:

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