Despite rumors that the Houston Rockets are stockpiling draft picks to make a run at Orlando Magic center Dwight Howard, the All-Star big man has no interest in signing a long-term extension if he's traded to Houston.
TNT's David Aldridge reported there is not a chance that Howard will sign an extension with the Rockets if the Magic trade him there this off-season. Howard has one year remaining on his contract after opting for the Magic before the trade deadline.
Despite Howard's lack of interest in joining the Rockets, the team is prepared to aggressively pursue a trade with the Magic, according to reports. On Tuesday the Rockets traded forward Chase Budinger to the Minnesota Timberwolves for the No. 18 in Thursday's NBA Draft. That gives the Rockets three draft picks in the first round - Nos. 14, 16 and 18 - and the team is interested in packaging them together to acquire Howard.
The Rockets are also in discussions with the Sacramento Kings and Toronto Raptors about their top 10 picks, according to ESPN. The deal could include one of the team's first-round picks plus point guard Kyle Lowry, who at one point was considered untouchable, for either the Kings' No. 5 pick or the Raptors' No. 7 selection.
An offer of multiple first-round draft picks, including potential top-10 picks, would be a difficult offer for the Magic to reject, though Howard has steadfastly stated the Brooklyn Nets are his preferred destination. The Nets have maintained interest in acquiring Howard to pair him with free agent point guard Deron Williams, but don't have the resources to match a rumored trade offer from the Rockets.
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It will all come down to whether new general manager Rob Hennigan, the youngest in the league at 30 years-old, is willing to trade Howard after only a week on the job. After accepting the job, Hennigan said he was interested in sitting down with Howard to discuss the future, but it's unknown whether a sitdown has occurred yet.
If Hennigan has a similar mindset as his former boss Sam Presi, with the Oklahoma City Thunder, he could be interested in dealing Howard in order to rebuild the Magic through the draft. But the Magic have shown a desire to do everything possible to hold on to Howard, even though he's made it clear that he wants out.