While 2012 belongs to another team it's still unclear what the future holds for Dwight Howard. The Houston Rockets made big splashes already this year too. Could new leader Jeremy Lin help them pull off another?
Lin became a big part of the push for James Harden trade
Front offices always get the credit when their team signs a big free agent, makes a great draft pick or executes a bold trade. It's how things work in pro sports. However fans and media can't discount the influence of players on team decisions. It was clear from the outset for the Houston Rockets that they wanted to change their identity when they signed Lin away from the New York Knicks. Experts were lukewarm to the move, believing the young point guards had some good talents but wasn't enough to carry the team alone. Some said it would take another off-season in free agency and the draft before Houston might find the right players to help the fan favorite get the Rockets off the ground. Then the bombshell hit when news broke that the team traded for James Harden from Oklahoma City. The reigning Sixth Man of the Year is not only young but brimming with playoff experience, something Houston doesn't have. What many don't realize is Lin himself was one of the biggest supporters of the trade. He understood the offense could not run through just one guy. They needed a second option. Early signs show promise, but the Rockets aren't there yet. If lightning struck once, could Lin help them pull off another stunner?
Howard's future with Los Angeles Lakers may depend on Phil Jackson
Free agency next year will have the typical blend of stars and solid role players for teams to pluck. One name fans continue to wonder about is the future of All-Star center Dwight Howard. The Los Angeles Lakers gave up a lot when they traded for him back in August and they made their championship goals clear when they fired head coach Mike Brown just five games into the season. That is nothing new to Howard but for the first time he seems to understand what opportunity he has if the Lakers bring back future Hall of Fame coach Phil Jackson. Howard has no doubt the "Zen Master" would do wonders for his game and give the team the boost it needs. In the end the center didn't go beyond that, saying his top priority is getting healthy after his back surgery. While most expect him to play the year out and eventually sign a new deal to stay in Los Angeles, there is the slightest chance, however remote, he could leave in free agency next year. If so he would want to join a team capable of winning a championship. Houston might not go down as the top choice but with Lin and Harden at their core, it is a mix that could do great things.
Jeremy Lin does his best work pulling his teammates together to play as one. The Houston Rockets took his enthusiasm to heart when they nabbed James Harden. They may do the same if the point guard has an eye on Dwight Howard.
Photo Credit - National Turk