Dwight Howard, responding to reports that the Houston Rockets are working with his agent to trade him, shot down any notion that he advocated such a move.
Per Marc Stein of ESPN, Howard made it clear he wants to make it work in Houston:
“I have not asked the Rockets to trade me. Nor have I talked about right trades. I want to win. I want this situation to work. I chose this team. And I’m not running because we have been faced with some adversity.”
The Rockets are currently on the outside looking in as far as the Western Conference playoff spots are concerned. They currently are No. 9 in the conference, one-half game behind the Utah Jazz after losing three in a row and six out of their last 10 games.
Defense has been a huge issue for Houston, which gives up more points on average (106.8) than any team in the NBA except the Sacramento Kings.
Howard has been known throughout his career as a defensive powerhouse, but his prowess as a shot-blocker has been hampered somewhat in recent years by injuries. Averaging 14.6 points, 12 rebounds, 1.5 blocks and one steal per contest, he’s below his career averages in every category except steals.
The Rockets might not care if Howard wants to stay or not. The team could very well be ready to trade him now, while it can still get something in return from the star center. Adrian Wojnarowski of The Vertical reported earlier on Thursday that Houston expects Howard to opt out of his contract after the season to become an unrestricted free agent.
The trade deadline is looming, with Feb. 18 being the final day to make moves. Things could get very interesting as trade talks heat up between teams looking to get better now and teams planning for the future.