The Rockets are obviously hot in pursuit of Dwight Howard, the top free agent on the market, and they have every reason to believe that they're front-runners for the seven-time all-star. But if that doesn't work out, they have a backup plan: Josh Smith, Howard's AAU teammate.
The Rockets hacked through their financial obligations to clear enough salary cap room to sign Howard to a maximum contract. But they don't have enough to do much else, so signing Howard as well as another star besides James Harden is out of the question. But if Howard opts not to sign, they have to make some sort of move to put together a functioning NBA roster, and per Marc J. Spears of Yahoo! Sports,
Spears reports that Smith understands the Rockets' situation -- most big name free agents are actively courted, not told they're second-in-line.
Brandon Jennings gives Bucks number
The Bucks have said they want to retain Brandon Jennings, at whatever cost, and now, they know that cost. Jennings gave the Bucks an undisclosed number, per Spears, which he'd like to sign for. Milwaukee is on record saying they'd like to negotiate a deal with the point guard before he hits the market as a restricted free agent, especially with Monta Ellis officially not coming back, but they've also said they'll match any offer sheet he signs with another team.
SB Nation's Bucks blog Brew Hoop is apprehensive about giving big money to Jennings:
And that doesn't even count his defensive problems, which have bordered on catastrophic the past two seasons: Milwaukee was a staggering 13 pts/100 possessions better with Jennings on the bench last year and 9.5 the prior season. There can be noise in on/off data, but it's mind-boggling that a guy looking for $10 million per season could have such a massively negative effect on his team two years running. A new coaching staff might be able to help Jennings turn things around, but it's difficult to justify an eight figure annual salary unless you assume considerable improvements on both ends.
Kings dealing with Calderon
The Sacramento Kings are meeting with Jose Calderon today, per Hoopshype. The Kings have a promising young point guard in Isaiah Thomas, but Calderon's a polished veteran, and considering how much of the ball-handling duties went to Tyreke Evans, they could use a pure point like Calderon to fill the gap if he's gone.
Kings fans at Sactown Royalty are reacting to the rumor here.
Bogut doesn't see D12-Golden State
When asked about the possibility that he could be included in a sign-and-trade with the Lakers that would bring Dwight Howard to the Golden State Warriors, Andrew Bogut was extremely pessimistic about the possibilities.
"There are better deals for the Lakers if they're looking at a sign-and-trade deal. I think it's less than one per cent chance of going through."
We're sure the Warriors are thrilled Bogut is throwing as much cold water as possible on their ability to land Howard.
Paul Millsap meets with Utah
Millsap has spent his entire career with the Utah Jazz, and the team met with him at his home in Salt Lake City. There could be a factor of a hometown discount here -- the majority of athletes don't opt to move to Salt Lake City, even if they play there -- but Millsap is one of the better power forwards on the free agent market, and considering Al Jefferson is also a free agent, the Jazz would like to retain one of their two established bigs rather than turning over the ship to their host of unproven ones.