NBA

NBA Rumors: Rockets the Favorites for Josh Smith

Rockets are in the lead for Josh Smith… Pacers players against Lance Stephenson’s return and more.

Yannis Koutroupis profile picture
Updated 12 months ago on
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Rockets in lead for Rajon Rondo

via Twitter

The Rockets are one several suitors who immediately emerged in the surprising race for Josh Smith’s services. The Miami HEAT, Los Angeles Lakers, Los Angeles Clippers, Sacramento Kings and Dallas Mavericks have also been linked to him, but Real GM’s Shams Charania reported that Smith is only interested in playing for a team that is contending or playoff bound.

The Rockets fit that description perfectly, and have three other important factors working in their favor: The presence of Smith’s longtime friend Dwight Howard, a potential starting role and the bi-annual exception. Terrance Jones was the projected starting power forward for them this season, but he’s missed the majority of the year due to injury. The other contending teams, outside of the HEAT, who applied for a disabled player’s exception that they hope to use on Smith, can only offer the minimum.

Smith will clear waivers in 48 hours and should make his decision in relatively short fashion.

Pacers’ players against Lance Stephenson coming back?

The Indiana Pacers approached some of their players about bringing back Lance Stephenson, but they were reportedly not encouraging of the scenario.

The Pacers were worn out of Stephenson by the end of last season

Via Marc Stein of ESPN

The Hornets have been aggressively shopping Stephenson, a signing that they started to regret almost immediately, but the market hasn’t been very vast. The Pacers and Brooklyn Nets were the only two teams that seemed open to the possibility, but the Nets want to unload undesirable contracts and the Pacers want a first-round pick in return. The Hornets would rather cut their losses without giving up the pick, but this could put a halt to talks with the Pacers regardless of their willingness to meet their asking price. Stephenson hasn’t made a great impression on his new teammates either.

Perhaps the Hornets take a page out of the Pistons’ playbook and use the stretch provision on Stephenson since they’re having no luck trading him. He’s owed less than Smith was and the playoffs are still within reach despite their horrendous start.

Celtics were worried about Lakers signing Rondo in free agency

Indeed, the Lakers sitting out there with bags of money spooked the Celtics. Los Angeles made perfunctory offers, but really preferred keeping its powder dry until July.

via David Aldridge of NBA.com

Another report said that the Celtics were interested in injured rookie Julius Randle as a potential trade chip in a deal for Rondo, but the Lakers couldn’t risk giving up their best young piece for a player who could leave in free agency this summer.

Internally, the Lakers are probably hoping that Rondo’s tenure with the Mavericks goes south this season and that they still have a chance to sign him in free agency. However, given how ideal of a fit the Mavericks seem for him and the fact that he’s already made it clear he’s open to staying there long-term, they should probably start pinpointing other point guard targets.

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Yannis Koutroupis is Basketball Insiders' Managing Site Editor and Senior Writer. He has been covering the NBA and NCAA for seven years.

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