With the Houston Rockets interested in signing both Dwight Howard and Chris Paul, there could be major ramifications throughout the entire Western Conference come 2013-14. Not only would there be two Texas powerhouse teams–the San Antonio Spurs being the other–but the Rockets could rob both Los Angeles teams of their star players. The fallout from these types of signings would be catastrophic, and would vastly affect the Golden State Warriors’ future.
First, the Rockets instantly become a powerhouse in the West, especially if they’re able to avoid trading Omer Asik. Both Asik and Howard are defensive-minded, and may not be the perfect pairing offensively because neither can be trusted in the post, but wing players would instantly be deterred from ever going near the paint.
The Warriors already have their handful of problems matching up with the Spurs (Tim Duncan and Tiago Splitter) and Memphis Grizzlies (Marc Gasoland Zach Randolph), and this Rockets team would become another major obstacle in the Warriors’ journey to win the Western Conference.
The Rockets would be a matchup nightmare for the Warriors, especially if Bogut doesn’t play more than 50 games. He is their only rim protector and post defender (Ezeli could develop into that, but as of today, he’s still raw.) Luckily, the Rockets aren’t in the Pacific Division, so Golden State wouldn’t have to play them four times per year, but they would still be a potential playoff matchup.
The Rockets are the ideal team for Howard, not only because of cap space, but because it would be pairing him with a young, elite wing in James Harden.
The decision really comes down to a few things for Howard: a chance to win a title, state tax, a good group of players surrounding him and marketability. While Houston may not be able to offer Howard all these Hollywood roles he claims he wants, they can definitely offer all the other aspects. The Rockets are the team that can offer Dwight the chance to compete for a title consistently, but not forcing him to shoulder all the pressure that would come with being the franchise guy.
After the emergence of Patrick Beverly, the Rockets have flexibility at their point guard spot and could potentially trade Jeremy Lin, who is mostly hype at this point, but could be valuable for a franchise looking to globalize their brand.
Thomas Robinson is also a candidate to be traded. The Rockets are actively shopping him in the hopes of freeing up enough cap space to sign both Howard and Paul outright, without the use of sign and trades. This would likely require simply dumping the 2012 number two overall pick, Thomas Robinson. He is definitely still an intriguing prospect, but vastly underperformed in extremely limited minutes in Sacramento, and they gave up on him very quickly, dumping him on the Rockets in late February as a part in a three-team deal.
If the Houston Rockets acquire just one major free agent this offseason, it will likely be Dwight Howard and it could help shape the Western Conference for years to come. If they sign both Howard and Paul, the entire scope of the NBA changes with a new powerhouse in Texas. This would spell doom for the Warriors, who have a bright future, but that future would look a lot less brighter if the Rockets acquired the two biggest free agents this summer.