The Houston Rockets have a Big 3 of their own in mind as a wild summer approaches.
A Kevin Durant-James Harden-Dwight Howard trio is quite big, all right.
Houston hasn’t come close to matching expectations this year. The team has fallen off the map and sits eighth in the Western Conference at 30-31 instead of competing with the big boys and contending for a title. Falling all the way out of the playoff race wouldn’t be so shocking. Howard has had a solid year, but his name came up in trade rumors ahead of his expected opt out. Ditto for Harden from a trade standpoint and both men partook in a he said-she said game of behind-the-scenes politicking.
According to ESPN.com’s Calvin Watkins, despite all the drama, the front office believes it has enough to entice Durant to come to town:
He didn’t become a bad GM overnight. He’s still a good one, and there’s a belief he will fix this group this offseason, starting with whether to bring back J.B. Bickerstaff as coach, and by making a hard decision as to whether to re-sign center Dwight Howard.
This summer, the Rockets feel they will be in the Kevin Durant sweepstakes, as they think pairing him with Harden and quite possibly Howard is a better fit than what he currently has in Oklahoma City.
Houston is always quite the unpredictable element when it comes to the market. Durant seeing the Rockets as a smooth landing spot isn’t so outlandish, though.
Should Durant want to leave a small market and embattled point guard Russell Westbrook behind, Houston is a decent market and neither Howard or Harden are guys who will command his same spotlight. Howard is at a point where he’s a quiet, productive center who plays better in a rotation as opposed to being the centerpiece. Harden seems better suited for a similar role, which he would undoubtedly take if Durant came to town.
The problem is twofold. For one, Houston would have to walk quite the interesting cap tightrope. There’s a narrative that suggests Howard isn’t a max-contract player anymore, but that could easily go out the window when a team on the open market gets desperate. Two, and perhaps more important, is Durant needing to look past the rather odd developments in Houston as of late—ranging from the fired coaches to the wild whiff on expectations to the rumblings about players trying to create elbow room and shove other guys out of the spotlight.
Houston wanting this makes sense. The three would undoubtedly be productive on the court and it would be rather difficult for them to miss expectations. But the Rockets won’t be the only team with big dreams when it comes to Durant, and with historic franchises such as the Los Angeles Lakers and New York Knicks likely in the hunt, not to mention the chance Durant stays loyal with Oklahoma City, this one looks more pipe dream than anything.
But alas, this is the Association at beginning of hype season for free agency. It’s fun to dream and, as they always seem to say, crazier things have happened.