Josh Smith free agency: Rockets make Dwight Howard backup plan, Hawks look at sign-and-trade options

USA TODAY Sports

Josh Smith is next in line if the Rockets can't bring in Dwight Howard, while the Hawks are trying to figure out what they can get in return in the extremely likely scenario Smith doens't return to the only team he's ever played for.

Dwight Howard has his pick of the litter as he tries to figure out where he's headed on the free agent market. Josh Smith also has some big-time suitors, but he'll have to wait on Howard's call as the two have some similar potential destinations.

Howard's first option, so we hear, is the Houston Rockets, who threw everything they had at the Lakers big man in a midnight meeting as soon as the free agency window opened. They've traded away assets and put others on the trading block in hopes of adding Howard as the centerpiece.

But Daryl Morey realizes that they need a secondary option in case the world's most fickle 7-footer decides Houston isn't the place for him. That secondary plan, per Marc Spears of Yahoo! Sports, is Smith. Missing out on Howard wouldn't be great, but they'd still be able to field a pretty good team: Smith at the power forward alongside Harden, Chandler Parsons, and Omer Asik is not a bad lineup, certainly an improvement on the team that finished eighth in the Western Conference this past year.

Not many teams lead with, "Hey, you're our second option in free agency," but according to Spears, Smith is understanding of Houston's situation and was "not offended" by their decision to consider Howard ahead of him.

The only team Smith has ever played for, the Atlanta Hawks, is also on the market for Howard. However, they're a bit of a long shot, so they, too, must look at other options, including Smith. He also reportedly met with the Hawks on Monday, but after nine years together, it really seems like Smith is interested in moving on from the NBA team in the city he was born. The nicest thing Peachtree Hoops would say about Smith's chances of remaining with Atlanta is that his departure was "not a foregone conclusion." The Hawks will likely seek a sign-and-trade deal, so that they can at least get something in return, with Omer Asik of the Rockets one of the names brought up most frequently.

However, the first team Smith met with was the Pistons, who remain in the chase.

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