Dwight Howard signed a four-year deal with the Houston Rockets this past July following a disastrous 2012-13 season with the Los Angeles Lakers. While Howard may play power forward this season, there is no doubt he'll remain the center of attention in Houston, if not the NBA. As the Washington Wizards pull out the chalk this season to defend against the new look Rockets, they'll also be keen to see how things go.
Howard will join a Rockets team featuring the backcourt tandem of Jeremy Lin and James Harden, a big-small model Houston has tried before without success. In 2002, the Rockets added rookie center Yao Ming, a 7-6 giant with a soft touch around the basket and a near unblockable jumper. Houston thought Ming would be the finishing touch after piecing together a backcourt of Cuttino Mobley and Steve "Franchise" Francis, yet the trio remained together for only two seasons.
In 2004, the Rockets traded Mobley and Francis to the Orlando Magic in exchange for Tracey McGrady and former Wizards forward Juan Howard. The then "blockbuster" trade ended up a bust for both franchises, as neither McGrady, Mobley, nor Francis lived up to their potential (even if Mobley may get a second chance this season). The Ming-McGrady tandem did help Houston to a few Playoffs appearances, but injuries--from bad backs to broken legs--kept the Rockets out of contender talk.
One could argue the Howard-Lin-Harden trio will provide Houston with a much more balanced, versatile core than the Rockets' 2002 attempt. Likewise, the Wizards--with their backcourt of John Wall and Bradley Beal--will keep their eyes open for a big 2014-15 pick-up (pun intended). Washington's current starting center, Emeka Okafor, is on a contract year this season, as is Greg Monroe, DeMarcus Cousins, Dirk Nowitzki, and Pau Gasol. The latter two are likely too expensive, but Wizards Owner Ted Leonsis made a specific point of noting how the early re-signing of John Wall was meant to attract players next season, as if to say, "we aren't afraid to spend money." Otherwise, Wall would have been up for grabs in 2014 as well.
Of those four early contenders--whom may all end up staying with their respective teams--Monroe and Cousins would provide Washington with the best salary cap future. Cousins would also give Wall a familiar teammate after their one-and-done season with the Kentucky Wildcats. If the Sacramento Kings can't keep Cousins happy, he might represent the best chance Washington will have as far as a young, inside big.
Jordan Dunks at 50
Washington Wizards Examiner has been busy touring $10 Dwight Howard replica jerseys at North Carolina flea markets during the NBA offseason, but if you missed NBA legend and former Wizards guard Michael Jordan throw it down at 50, check it out. As Sekou Smith reports, Jordan joked about an NBA return during his Hall of Fame speech, in which "His Airness" said he "wanted people to expect his return at 50-years-old." We won't get a third return out of MJ, but hey, he can still get up there.
Porter Joins Father, Retires His High School Jersey
Wizards rookie Otto Porter, Jr., had his Scott County Central jersey retired two weekends ago in Missouri. No. 22 joined Otto Porter, Sr., no. 35.