Rockets to target Josh Smith if they can't sign Dwight Howard

6/4/13 in NBA   |   Matthew_Shovlin   |   735 respect

The Houston Rockets have long been a team linked to Laker big man Dwight Howard, and this summer they may actually get a chance to sign the impending free agent. However, what if Howard decides to re-sign with the Lakers, or return to his hometown of Atlanta?

The Rockets want to come out of free agency with a coveted asset, and while Houston is certainly one of the frontrunners to land Howard, there is still a good chance that he decides to play somewhere else. The Rockets understand that, and are already considering what they will do if they can't sign the league's premier center.
Apr 27, 2013; Atlanta, GA, USA; Atlanta Hawks small forward Josh Smith (5) dunks the ball against the Indiana Pacers during the first half during game three in the first round of the 2013 NBA playoffs at Philips Arena.The Hawks defeated the Pacers 90-69. Mandatory Credit: Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports
In the event that Howard signs elsewhere, the Rockets will reportedly target Atlanta Hawks small forward Josh Smith.

Smith has adamantly stated that he wants to test free agency, and he made it sound like his days in Atlanta were over after the Hawks were knocked out of the playoffs. In addition, the Hawks made no mention of Smith in a recent letter to potential ticket buyers, but did refer to both Chris Paul and Dwight Howard as potential free agent additions (which is actually a punishable offense). It seems like both Smith and the Hawks are ready to move on from one another.

A versatile player, Smith could fit very well into the Rockets' uptempo system. Their biggest hole is currently at power forward, and head coach Kevin McHale would certainly love to plug a hybrid forward like Smith into that spot. Still only 27 years old, Smith is coming off a season in which he lead the Hawks in both scoring and blocked shots, while also finishing second on the team in assists, rebounds, and steals. He can provide a little bit of everything, and would round out a very promising starting lineup in Houston.

Smith is looking for a max contract, and would almost certainly sign with Houston if they offered him one, though it is likely that the Rockets would attempt to get him at a cheaper price.

Make no doubt about it - the Rockets are going after Dwight Howard when free agency begins on July 1, and there have been several reports of mutual interest between the two sides. However, we must remember that Howard's mind has been quite fickle in the past, and where he ends up playing is anyone's guess. If the Rockets miss out on Howard, don't be surprised if they make a hard run at Josh Smith.
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