The Houston Rockets released swingman Carlos Delfino and point guard Aaron Brooks on Sunday as they clear cap space and prepare to chase after free agent center Dwight Howard. Rockets general manager Daryl Morey announced the news on Twitter via a "thank you" message to the two players.
Delfino and Brooks each had non-guaranteed contracts for next season valued at $3 million and $2.5 million, respectively.
Delfino could be the Rockets' biggest loss this offseason. He was the team's fourth-leading scorer behind James Harden, Chandler Parsons and Jeremy Lin, and was one of Houston's best weapons in stretching the floor. He shot 37.5 percent from behind the three-point line.
Brooks, who was acquired off waivers in the middle of the season, became expendable with Lin starting and another midseason signing, Patrick Beverley, coming on strong in the second half of the year and during the playoffs.
In 2010-11, Brooks had a career year with the Rockets, averaging 19 points and five assists per game en route to winning the NBA's Most Improved Player honor. He's struggled to maintain his NBA success beyond that season.
The Rockets still have some legwork to do before being capable of signing Howard. They indeed appear to be the frontrunners and will make their pitch to the Lakers' free agent big man on Monday, but more cap space will need to be opened up.
Houston has been looking to move forward Thomas Robinson, the fifth pick in the 2012 draft, and his $3.5 million contract. If they trade Robinson without taking on any return in salary, they will have enough room to sign Howard to a max contract.