Ball Don't Lie

Houston might be attempting to move up in the draft to trade for Dwight Howard

Kelly Dwyer
Ball Don't Lie

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Dwight Howard and Kevin McHale could work together again. Kevin Harlan would not be invited (Getty Images)

New Orlando Magic GM Rob Hennigan is, thankfully, working quickly to shift an outmoded Orlando Magic squad in his new image. The team is full of hard-to-move players with huge contracts, surrounding the "why would you want to move him?" talents of Dwight Howard, so Hennigan is working around the edges. Longtime NBA and Magic executive Dave Twardzik has been replaced with former Detroit Pistons number two Scott Perry. And the team's hopeful young exec in training, former NBA center Adonal Foyle has been let go. The call behind the team's new head coach will be Hennigan's. The rest of the rotation parts, brought in under former GM Otis Smith, should be wary.

Everyone should be wondering if they'll be in Florida next year, save for Dwight Howard. Who still hasn't gotten in touch with his new employer. Who still is finding ways to keep his team hostage, especially as Hennigan considers the opportunity to pass Howard along to the Houston Rockets — as rumored by ESPN.com — for picks the Rockets haven't even traded for yet.

[Sources: Rockets get 18th pick in NBA draft with trade of Chase Budinger to Timberwolves]

The machinations reported on Sunday night would have the Rockets potentially dealing their two selections in the middle of the first round (14th and 16th; technically neither in the middle of the 30 overall selections, so give us a break) to either Sacramento or Toronto or both, with highly coveted point guard Kyle Lowry tossed into that mix. The team would then take that higher overall selection and move it on to Orlando in a package involving Howard. Assuming, of course, Rob Hennigan wants to make a career-defining decision just one week into his actual career as an NBA GM.

Because both Toronto and Sacramento were significantly under the cap in 2011-12, either team could swing a deal for Lowry's average-ish salary without having to send anything but a pick back. And even though this is apparently a loaded draft, grabbing an All-Star caliber point man in Lowry for a mid-lottery selection is a sweet deal indeed. Especially when you factor in the replacement first-rounder Houston would send back.

The plan, according to ESPN, is for the Rockets to attempt to secure both Sacto and Toronto's selections in return for their assets — possibly Lowry to Toronto (for the eighth selection in the draft) and Sacramento's top five pick in exchange for both of Houston's selections. The Rockets would then flip those two higher picks (and possibly Samuel Dalembert, whose contract is only partially guaranteed for next season) to Orlando for Howard. Even without Howard committing to signing a contract extension with the Rockets.

[Marc J. Spears: Weber State's Damian Lillard will make name for himself after NBA draft]

Even without Howard actually sitting down to discuss his future with his new GM, just yet. Which sort of makes sense, because we sort of get the feeling that Hennigan wants nothing to do with catering to Howard's every personnel whim in the same way his predecessor did.

The problem here, beyond trading away an all-world center that some franchises go half a century without ever attaining the rights to, is that Howard still probably doesn't know what he wants. He still has no idea what teams will have cap space lined up to sign him in the summer of 2013 (when he's an unrestricted free agent), and if the teams that he wants to join will be as enviable this time 13 months from now.

On top of that, because he attempted to play it both ways and committed to his player option with Orlando for 2012-13, he can be traded. To anywhere. Rockets, Cavs, Miami Heat — it doesn't matter. And because Dwight poisoned the water so badly in Orlando, he cost his GM and coach a job; bringing in a new GM in the process who won't be as beholden to his wishes. Be careful what you wish for, indeed.

All of this would involve a massive undertaking, though. For not just Orlando, we should insist, because Houston would be fully committing to moving its significant assets for a player that could bolt in 2013, and sulk throughout 2012-13. All for draft picks that, we have to remind you, aren't Houston's yet.

Ah, silly rumored transactions. We missed you so much, while having to work through the drudgery of exciting and legendarily good playoff basketball. Let's never leave each other's sites and sights, from here until next fall.

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