The Houston Rockets plan to have their cake and eat it too this summer.
Contrary to reports that the Boston Celtics engaged Houston in trade talks involving center Dwight Howard, sources told ESPN.com on Wednesday that the Rockets are not looking to trade Howard before the Feb. 18 deadline even though he has the right to become a free agent on July 1.
Instead, they plan to form a Big Three with Howard, James Harden and Harden’s former teammate with the Oklahoma City Thunder, Kevin Durant. From ESPN’s Marc Stein and Calvin Watkins:
The Rockets’ grand plan, sources said this week, remains making an all-out pursuit in free agency this summer for Oklahoma City Thunder star Kevin Durant. Rockets officials have long believed privately that they will have as good a chance as any team to lure Durant away from the Thunder in the offseason because of his strong relationship with former teammate James Harden and the room Houston has to pay Durant max-contract money while also re-signing Howard.
Durant, who played his college ball for the Texas Longhorns, is preparing to become the hottest free agent this summer unless the Thunder are able to retain him. On Tuesday, league sources told Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo’s The Vertical, the Golden State Warriors are frontrunners to sign Durant if he leaves the Thunder.
But it seems the Warriors will have competition for Durant from the Rockets and any number of teams believed to be courting him.