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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!”

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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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Daryl Morey admits in heated interview Rockets probably won’t win championship next year

An interview that started off friendly became heated after Rockets GM Daryl Morey asked a radio host for tougher questions, leading to him admitting the team probably won’t win the NBA championship next year.

Morey had finished introducing Jeremy Lin as the newest member of the Rockets when he joined “The J&R Show” with Josh Innes and Rich Lord on Sports Radio 610 in Houston Thursday. The GM fielded a fair amount of questions about the team before telling Innes to ask tougher questions. Innes obliged and began peppering Morey about the Rockets’ status as a near-.500 team the past three seasons, and Morey’s job security. That’s when things got tense and Morey admitted the reality of the team’s status.

“29 out of 30 teams every year are disappointed so you can move yourself to any freaking city and make that same comment,” he said in response to Innes, who pointed out that the team doesn’t appear to be close to winning a title.

“So you’re brilliant,” Morey continued. “We’re probably not going to win the title next year. You can be in almost any NBA city and you’re going to be right about that, so that’s a great comment,” he said sarcastically.

Morey also scoffed at the suggestion that the Rockets struggle to attract free agents.

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Houston Rockets land Jeremy Lin after Knicks choose not to match bloated offer

Jeremy Lin is officially a Houston Rocket for the second time in his career.

Lin became a member of the Houston Rockets on Tuesday night when the Knicks decided not to match the three-year $25.1 million offer Houston made to him during his period as a restricted free agent. The $8 million per year figure may have been doable for New York, but it was the bloated $15 million “poison pill” he was owed in 2014-2015 that most likely discouraged the Knicks.

Had New York matched the contract and retained Lin, they would have owed $77.3 million to four players that season — Jeremy Lin, Tyson Chandler, Amar’e Stoudemire, and Carmelo Anthony — and they would have owed $50-60 million in league taxes per the terms of the new CBA. New York would have had plenty of time to work around that crazy thought and could have traded Stoudemire and possibly waived Melo with the amnesty provision, but they decided to keep the team’s current core together in hopes of making a title run. They also opted to go the cheaper route by agreeing to a sign-and-trade with Portland where they acquired Ray Felton, and by adding Jason Kidd as a backup.

The Knicks would have been a better team with Lin, and now they’ve upset a big part of their fan base by getting rid of the best thing that’s happened to the team in years. But at that price, and without Mike D’Antoni (under whom Lin flourished as a point guard), it was the right move for the team to make even if it hurts them in the short-term. Linsanity had died and the fans will be satisfied as long as the team wins. That’s something they can do with or without Lin, as long as they manage things well in the future.

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