The Rockets have the first meeting with Howard when free agency opens up at 12:01 a.m. ET Monday, and they are "oozing confidence" that they will be able to nab the big man away from the Los Angeles Lakers.
Houston was able to clear max cap space for Howard by trading Thomas Robinson to the Portland Trail Blazers on Sunday night, but they're still hoping to deal Asik and Lin. Asik would clearly become expendable if the Rockets acquired Howard, and trading the Turkish center would bring help in other areas.
The inclusion of Lin in trade talks is a tad surprising, as the only other point guards on the roster are Patrick Beverley and the recently drafted Isaiah Canaan. However, Beverley emerged as a quality player last season and could slide into the starting spot, and Lin could possibly be dealt for another point guard or for more rotation players.
Both Asik and Lin were signed last offseason to three-year, backloaded $25.1 million contracts as restricted free agents. They both are owed $8.375 million over each of the next two seasons.
One potential destination for Asik is Philadelphia, where former Rockets executive Sam Hinkie is the Sixers' new general manager. Hinkie was in Houston last year when the Rockets signed Asik and Lin to those backloaded contracts.