The Houston Rockets have upped their proposal to a package that could include any combination of the players Kevin Martin, Patrick Patterson, Marcus Morris, and Chandler Parsons, draft rights to three more players, and multiple future first-round picks, according to ESPN. One of the most appealing things for new Orlando general manager Rob Hennigan is the salary Houston would also be willing to take on.
Orlando will not get all of those options in a deal for Howard, although reports suggest the Rockets would be willing to take on the contracts of Glen Davis, Jason Richardson, and Chris Duhon. The Rockets have been in desperate need of a superstar since Yao Ming retired, and they have previously gone after Los Angeles Laker Pau Gasol, but that trade was notoriously shot down by NBA Commissioner David Stern.
Whatever the form of the final package, it looks to be the best one Orlando has been offered since the Howard sweepstakes began. Houston GM Daryl Morey has made his desperation for a star clear because he has apparently offered a combination of those assets to Hennigan even after Howard said if he's not dealt to the Brooklyn Nets, then he'll play for another team for only one year.
There's almost no chance Orlando will be able to get a player that's worth as much as Howard in return for him, but a stable of high draft picks allows Hennigan to structure the team whatever way he wants in the coming seasons. Shedding the cap space of players such as Davis and Richardson is almost as important for that dream construct to become a reality. This week, the 30-year-old general manager shot down a trade to the Brooklyn Nets that many, including Howard, thought was inevitable.
The Rockets are able to absorb so much because of their recent release of starting forward Luis Scola via the NBA's amnesty clause. They also were able to sign the young star Jeremy Lin away from the New York Knicks by offering him a back-loaded contract they knew the Knicks would be unable to match, although that deal is not yet official. Howard at center and Lin at point guard could potentially be one of the best tandems in the league.
If the Rockets are able to acquire Howard, they will have one long season to try to convince the 26-year-old superstar to stay with the team long term or trade him for another bounty at the trade deadline next February. Howard has most recently been rumored to be headed to the Los Angeles Lakers in a deal that would likely send the sometimes-troubled but extremely gifted Andrew Bynum back to the Magic.