The Houston Rockets might feel like they have Dwight Howard locked down, but the team is considering a plan B should the free agent decide to go elsewhere. The team was the first of many to meet with Howard and hosted the center for a star-studded dinner. Sources report Houston is confident Howard signs with the team, but just in case, the Rockets are making a pitch to Josh Smith as a backup plan.
The Rockets have met with Smith in Los Angeles since meeting with Howard. Yahoo! Sports reports the Rockets told Smith they will offer him a contract if they do not sign Howard. Smith reportedly was not offended by Houston's offer and understands their position in free agency. If the Howard deal falls apart, the Atlanta Hawks could purse some sort of sign-and-trade deal with Houston and Smith.
While Howard is getting all of the media attention in free agency, Smith is making his way around teams in the league. The Detroit Pistons have already made him a contract offer and he would be a good fit for the team. Smith averaged 17.5 points and 8.4 rebounds last season and the Pistons would welcome those numbers.
Houston seems like a less likely option for Smith. The Rockets cannot pair James Harden and Smith together. Smith is a less effective player considering he is known for taking jump shots that he cannot make. He is not as consistent on defense to make the Rockets a true contender. The Rockets seem set on signing a max contract player, but going for Smith is just settling if the team does not get Howard.
The Rockets could hold on to their money if the Howard deal fails and see what they can get for Jeremy Lin and Omer Asik. The two players are reportedly on the trade block as the Rockets work to clear cap space. Both Lin and Asik are signed to three-year contracts that are worth more on the backend of the deals.
The Rockets are doing everything they can to get Howard, but the center has requested they add one more superstar to the mix if he is going to sign there. If the Rockets are able to get rid of Asik or Lin, they could clear enough space for both Smith and Howard to sign with the team. But if everything falls apart, the team should favor being patient instead of jumping on the Smith train right away.