Rockets amnesty Scola, lining up run at Howard
The Houston Rockets are scrambling to clear the salary cap space required to absorb the high-priced contracts Orlando Magic general manager Rob Hennigan wants to unload to any team that takes All-NBA center Dwight Howard via trade.
The Rockets dealt point guard Kyle Lowry to the Toronto Raptors and used the amnesty provision to waive power forward Luis Scola and the three years, $21 million remaining on his contract.
Howard hasn’t committed to signing a long-term extension with any team other than his preferred destination, Brookyln. The Nets and Magic couldn’t agree on a trade and talks ended Wednesday, when Hennigan reportedly approached Howard about reconsidering his trade demands long enough to give the Magic’s yet-to-be hired coaching staff a chance.
The Rockets’ offer could involve multiple first-round picks they’ve received via trade, including a first-rounder in the Lowry deal, and might be able to flip multiple 2012 first-round picks: UConn guard Jeremy Lamb, Iowa State forward Royce White or Kentucky forward Terrence Jones. Houston also owns a first-round pick in 2013 from Dallas via the Lakers.
Almost as important to Hennigan is whether Houston can absorb the weight of long-term contracts he wants off the books in Orlando. Point guard Chris Duhon is owed $7.6 million over the next two seasons; Quentin Richardson is owed $5.4 million over two seasons and the albatross deals of Jason Richardson ($18.6 million through 2015) and Hedo Turkoglu ($23.6 million through 2014) are assuredly the contracts the Magic will insist on coupling with Howard.
To facilitate the deal, Orlando would have to consider accepting shooting guard Kevin Martin — signed for only the upcoming season at $13 million — in any trade with the Rockets.
Rockets GM Daryl Morey attempted to acquire Howard twice last season — in December and again at the trade deadline. He also covets Lakers big men Andrew Bynum and Pau Gasol. The Rockets had agreed to a deal that would have brought Gasol to Houston last year, but the three-team deal that included Chris Paul going from New Orleans to the Lakers was vetoed by commissioner David Stern.
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