User ID
Password
  Forgot User ID
or Register Today!
VegasInsider.com
VI Mobile Scores and Betting OddsVI Mobile Scores and Betting Odds Be Social
Home
NFL
NBA
NHL
MLB
NCAA FB
NCAA BK
Golf
Auto
Horses
Soccer
Boxing/MMA
More
Betting Tools

 
Howard turns Rockets into contenders

HOUSTON (AP) - Last offseason, the Houston Rockets were an afterthought, a young team with little star power.

Advertisement
Now, after trading for James Harden just before this past season and adding Dwight Howard on Friday, Houston is suddenly primed to contend sooner than almost anybody expected.

Still, Houston general manager Daryl Morey knows nabbing Howard is only the first step in a long process for his team.

``We haven't accomplished anything yet, but we're putting something pretty cool together, I think,'' Morey said in an interview with Comcast SportsNet Houston.

Howard is the Rockets' latest superstar center, following Hall of Famer Hakeem Olajuwon and eight-time All-Star Yao Ming.

They reached the playoffs for the first time since 2009 this season and battled back from a 3-0 deficit before being eliminated by the Oklahoma City Thunder in Game 6.

Their return to the postseason showed they have plenty of speed and long-range scoring power with Harden, Jeremy Lin and Chandler Parsons. Omer Asik was a solid rebounder in the playoff run and averaged 12.3 points in the series, but it was clear that the team needed a more potent scoring threat inside.

The addition of Howard gives them just that, as the 6-foot-11 star has averaged more than 18 points and almost 13 rebounds in his nine-year career.

His one season in Los Angeles was filled with unrest, including what many believed to be a less than positive relationship with Kobe Bryant. Bryant unfollowed Howard on Twitter on Friday night after he announced his decision to join the Rockets with a tweet.

It was the end of a short tenure with the Lakers in which Howard averaged 17 points and almost 11 rebounds in the playoffs, where the injury-riddled team was swept by the San Antonio Spurs in the first round.

Morey believes his team offers many benefits to the 27-year-old center, but one thing sealed the deal.

``I think Dwight's in a great place in his career,'' Morey said in the television interview. ``He's focused on winning and we gave him the best chance to win. It's that simple.''

Howard can't officially sign until July 10 when next season's salary cap has been set. The Rockets can pay him $88 million over a four-year contract - $30 million less than what Los Angeles could have given him.

But in Houston, Howard saw the chance to join Harden and boost this up-and-coming team. Harden blossomed in his first year with the Rockets, going from stellar sixth man with the Thunder to Houston's top player. He averaged 25.9 points, 4.9 rebounds, 5.8 assists and 1.8 steals, setting career highs in each category.

After Howard made his decision Friday night, Harden tweeted: ``Houston we have lift off!!,'' and posted a photo to Instagram of him and his newest teammate together.

``No matter how you look at it we thought it was a pretty straightforward choice,'' Morey said on Comcast. ``To Dwight's credit he did turn down a pretty significant amount of money to come to the Rockets. It shows his mindset that he's really ready to take that next step. If you look at best players, James Harden is the best player out there that he could join.''

But Harden certainly isn't Houston's only weapon. The Rockets signed Lin last season to run their offense and they were also buoyed by the development of Parsons, a second-round pick in 2011.

Parsons averaged 15.5 points last season and was even better in the playoffs when Lin was ailing, averaging 18.2 points against the Thunder.

Morey believes the move puts the Rockets among the top teams in the Western Conference and definitely positions them to contend for a title. He pointed to the Miami Heat, San Antonio Spurs and Oklahoma City Thunder as the teams he sees as Houston's biggest competition next season.

``We obviously have our work cut out for us,'' he said on Comcast. ``We're going to set ourselves up to be able to compete with them. This move is obviously the most important one. We'll let the chips fall where they may.''

Copyright 2017 by STATS LLC and Associated Press.
Any commercial use or distribution without the express written
consent of STATS LLC and Associated Press is strictly prohibited.

  
HEADLINES
Rogers: Wednesday's Tip Sheet
Rogers: Hot and Cold Teams
News: Midseason Win Total Update
News: Updated MVP Betting Odds
Nuggets hold off struggling Lakers
Spurs win, but Wolves cash on road
Mavs edge Bulls for 3rd straight win
Heat stun Rockets as home 'dogs
Raptors hand Nets 11th straight loss
MORE HEADLINES
 
Why Buy Picks From VegasInsider.com
NBA Pro Basketball Handicapper Sports Picks Records
NBA Hot Streaks
6-0 L2 Days, +1,740 This Season
6-1 Run, 13-4 GPlays, 28-10Totals
4-0 L4, 23-9 Streak, 8-1 Totals
4-1 L2 Days, +2,086 This Year
3-0 L3 Picks, 17-6 L23 Guarantees
7-3 L10 Picks, 10-3 L13 G-Plays
6 Straight NBA Winners
5-1 Monday, 4-1 L5 G-Plays
10-1 L11, 17-5 L22 Guarantees
5-1 L6, +1,482 Guarantees TY
3-1 L4 Days, 9-4 L13 Guarantees
15-6 L21 Guaranteed Plays
3-1 L4 Picks, 16-7 L23 Totals
8-3 L11 Picks, 5-2 L7 Over/Unders
3-1 NBA Picks Yesterday
8-3 L11 Over/Under Plays
3-0 L3, 8-2 Record L10 Selections
NBA Pro Basketball Expert Sports Picks - Indiana Pacers at Sacramento Kings
2016 NBA SEASON PICK RECORDS
Money Leaders
Handicapper Money
Doc's Sports + 2086
Chip Chirimbes + 1740
Kevin Rogers + 1324
Last 7 Day Leaders
Handicapper Money
Chip Chirimbes + 661
Michael Black + 600
Paul Bovi + 475
Percentage Leaders
Handicapper Pct
Mark Franco 58 %
Doc's Sports 57 %
Chip Chirimbes 57 %
Guaranteed Leaders
Handicapper Money
Alex Smart + 1482
Chip Chirimbes + 1149
Kevin Rogers + 940
Over-Under Leaders
Handicapper Money
Paul Bovi + 1168
Bill Marzano + 1160
Jimmy Boyd + 584
Member Leaders
Handicapper Money
Mark Franco + 957
Bill Marzano + 738
Jimmy Boyd + 603
MORE PICK RECORDS
  
corner graphic
With a VI Gold Membership, you can SAVE 10% off a Live Odds subscription, SAVE 20% off Daily Pick packages, and receive access to up to 1,000 Member Plays each month!
VI Gold Membership