Rockets may trade Dwight Howard for Hassan Whiteside

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It's no secret that Dwight Howard is far from being the dominant player he was with the Orlando Magic a few years ago. He's a shell of the center who won three straight Defensive Player of the Year awards and as various back problems and injuries have caught up to him at 30 years of age with the Houston Rockets. As a result, he's 'very unhappy' in his current situation, and could easily be traded before the end of the season.

Chris Sheridan of Sheridan Hoops has reported that with Dwight's discomfort and theMiami Heat's looming dilemma of not being able to afford to give Hassan Whiteside a max contract next summer, a trade between the two teams is a real possibility:

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Dwight Howard is extremely unhappy in Houston playing second fiddle to alpha dog James Harden, multiple league sources tell SheridanHoops.com. And with the Rockets underachieving more than any NBA team, look for them to try to move Howard later this season.

And the destination that makes the most sense is Miami in a trade centered around Hassan Whiteside.

It makes so much sense, in fact, that I will go so far as to predict that Howard will be wearing a Miami Heat uniform by the end of February...

A swap of centers may sound like an unusual trade to make at a first glance, especially when considering how Whiteside's remarkable ability as a rim protector has transformed the Heat into the 2nd best team in the NBA in terms of defensive efficiency. However, if they want to keep Dwyane Wade around with his salary in excess of $20 million, they can't afford to offer Whiteside a max deal when he becomes a free agent next summer.

And with the way he's been dominating the paint and leading the league with a ridiculous four blocks per game and a defensive rating of 89.3, he's more than earned a max now that the NBA salary cap is increasing to around $90 million for 2016-17.

See photos of Dwight Howard throughout his career:

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Rockets may trade Dwight Howard for Hassan Whiteside
Houston Rockets' Dwight Howard during the first half of the NBA basketball game against the New York Knicks, Sunday, Nov. 29, 2015 in New York. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig)
Dwight Howard is pictured in the gym of Southwest Atlanta Christian Academy in Atlanta as fellow players on his team wait for basketball practice to begin Wednesday, Feb.11, 2004. Howard, a senior, is being scouted by the NBA. (AP Photo/John Amis)
Dwight Howard, 18, right, smiles as his father Dwight Howard, Sr., who is also athletic director at at Southwest Atlanta Christian Academy, looks on during a news conference at the school in Atlanta Wednesday, April 4, 2004. The 6-foot-10 forward announced Wednesday that he will enter the NBA draft, where he is projected as a lottery pick. (AP Photo/John Amis)
Dwight Howard, center, from Atlanta Southwest Christian Academy, and the first pick in Thursday's NBA Draft, is presented a jersey by Orlando Magic general manager John Weisbrod, left, and coach Johnny Davis at the team's practice facility in Orlando, Fla., Friday, June 25, 2004. (AP Photo/Peter Cosgrove)
Orlando Magic forward Dwight Howard (12) works his way around Atlanta Hawks forward Jason Collier, left, during the first quarter Friday, Nov. 26, 2004, in Atlanta. (AP Photo/Gregory Smith)
Orlando Magic's Dwight Howard, center, dunks the ball as Chicago Bulls defenders Eddy Curry, left, and Chris Duhon, right, look on during the first quarter Saturday, Jan. 1, 2005, in Chicago. (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson)
Orlando Magic guard Steve Francis hugs teammate Dwight Howard after beating the New Jersey Nets, 103-102, Saturday night, April 2, 2005 in East Rutherford, N.J. Francis led all scorers with 33 points and Howard chipped in 15. (AP Photo/Bill Kostroun)
Dwight Howard of the Orlando Magic takes a shot during the USA men's senior national basketball practice at the Cox pavilion in Las Vegas on Friday, July 21, 2006. Greg Oden and Dwight Howard aren't old enough to gamble, so this Vegas trip is all about business. The two most talented American big men under 21 are in camp with the U.S. national team, soaking up lessons in international play and professionalism. By Greg Beacham. (AP Photo/Isaac Brekken)
USA's Dwight Howard (12) dunks during the semifinals against Greece of the World Basketball Championships in Saitama, Japan, Friday, Sept. 1, 2006. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)
Orlando Magic center Dwight Howard (12) smiles against the Golden State Warriors during the final seconds of overtime of an NBA basketball game on Monday, Dec. 3, 2007, in Oakland, Calif. The Magic won 123-117 in overtime. (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu)
Wearing a Superman costume, Orlando Magic forward Dwight Howard soars toward the basket in the basketball slam dunk contest Saturday, Feb. 16, 2008, at the NBA All Star Weekend in New Orleans. (AP Photo/Eric Gay)
Orlando Magic center Dwight Howard shows his Superman pose after being presented with the Slam Dunk Champion trophy before their NBA basketball game against the Philadelphia 76ers in Orlando, Fla., Friday, Feb. 22, 2008. Howard won the Slam Dunk contest during the recent NBA All-Star Game Weekend. (AP Photo/Phelan M. Ebenhack)
Orlando Magic center Dwight Howard, right, tries to push his way past Phoenix Suns center Channing Frye during the second half of an NBA basketball game in Orlando, Fla., Wednesday, Nov. 4, 2009. Orlando won 122-100. (AP Photo/John Raoux)
Orlando Magic center Dwight Howard goes in for a dunk in the first half in Game 5 of the NBA Eastern Conference basketball finals against the Boston Celtics in Orlando, Fla., Wednesday, May 26, 2010. Orlando won 113-92.(AP Photo/John Raoux)
Orlando Magic center Dwight Howard speaks with media at a news conference after he was presented with the 2010-11 NBA defensive basketball player of the year award in Orlando, Fla., Monday, April 18, 2011. Howard is the first player to win the award in three straight seasons.(AP Photo/John Raoux)
Orlando Magic center Dwight Howard (12) dunks over Milwaukee Bucks forward Jon Brockman during the first half of an NBA basketball game in Orlando, Fla., Wednesday, Jan. 5, 2011. (AP Photo/Phelan M. Ebenhack)
Orlando Magic center Dwight Howard warms up prior to an NBA basketball game against the New Orleans Hornets in Orlando, Fla., Friday, Feb. 11, 2011.(AP Photo/Phelan M. Ebenhack)
A fan holds a sign in the stands as Orlando Magic center Dwight Howard, left, leaves the court after an NBA basketball game against the Miami Heat in Orlando, Fla., Tuesday, March 13, 2012.(AP Photo/Phelan M. Ebenhack)
Los Angeles Lakers center Dwight Howard, at the NBA basketball team's media day at team headquarters in El Segundo, Calif., Monday, Oct. 1, 2012. (AP Photo/Reed Saxon)
Sacramento Kings point guard Tyreke Evans (13) shoots as Los Angeles Lakers center Dwight Howard (12) defends during the first half of their preseason NBA basketball game, Sunday, Oct. 21, 2012, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)
Dwight Howard of the Los Angeles Lakers smiles before the NBA All-Star basketball game Sunday, Feb. 17, 2013, in Houston. (AP Photo/Eric Gay)
NBA Houston Rockets' star Dwight Howard admires a new Adidas shoe bearing his name during a media event in Taipei, Taiwan, Monday, Aug. 19, 2013. Howard is in Taiwan on the second leg of his Asian promotional tour which includes South Korea, Hong Kong and China. (AP Photo/Wally Santana)
Houston Rockets center Dwight Howard poses for a photographer during NBA basketball media day Friday, Sept. 27, 2013, in Houston. Howard signed with the Rockets in the offseason. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)
Houston Rockets' Dwight Howard (12) tries to maintain control of the ball under pressure from Minnesota Timberwolves' Nikola Pekovic in the second half of an NBA basketball game Saturday, Nov. 23, 2013, in Houston. The Rockets won 112-101. (AP Photo/Pat Sullivan)
Houston Rockets' Dwight Howard lines up a free throw in the second half of an NBA basketball game against the Los Angeles Lakers, Wednesday, Jan. 8, 2014, in Houston. The Rockets won 113-99. (AP Photo/Pat Sullivan)
Houston Rockets center Dwight Howard, left, and guard James Harden reacts after Howard was called for a technical foul during the first half of an NBA basketball game against the Los Angeles Lakers, Wednesday, Feb. 19, 2014, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)
Houston Rockets center Dwight Howard, right, looks to pass the ball as Los Angeles Lakers guard Kobe Bryant, center, defends and guard Trevor Ariza looks on during the first half of an NBA basketball game, Tuesday, Oct. 28, 2014, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)
FILE - In this Jan. 12, 2015, file photo, Houston Rockets' Dwight Howard (12) reacts to a no-call after going to the basket against the Brooklyn Nets during the second quarter of an NBA basketball game in New York. Howard almost always wears a huge smile and is quick to crack a joke. But Houston's star center knows he's a polarizing figure that many people hate. (AP Photo/Jason DeCrow)
Houston Rockets' Dwight Howard holds up his name before being photographed during an NBA basketball media day Monday, Sept. 28, 2015, in Houston. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)
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As for the Heat trading for Howard, he's at least a replacement who can fill in for Whiteside even if it's to a lesser extent defensively, while Dwight will also be more intrigued with a chance to get more attention offensively. He's the sixth leading scorer for the Rockets right now with just 13 points and 8.3 field goal attempts per game, and if Houston could get Whiteside in return for a Howard package deal, it's more than worth it.

This potential scenario also revolves around the interest that Sacramento Kings All-Star center DeMarcus Cousins attracts. According to Michael Scotto of Sheridan Hoops, the Heat are very interested in trading for him:

Sacramento Kings All-Star center DeMarcus Cousins has drawn significant trade interest from the Boston Celtics, Miami Heat and Chicago Bulls, league sources tell SheridanHoops.

Sacramento is listening, but the Kings are in a holding pattern and currently have no plans to make a deal despite sitting in 13th place in the 15-team Western Conference, the sources said.

Precisely as Scotto reiterated, though, it won't be remotely easy to make the Kings give up Cousins. Which, if the Heat want a solid defensive center to anchor the paint, means that going after Howard as a backup option with the potential departure of Whiteside looks even more likely.

If Sheridan's report and confidence is anything to go by, this deal could certainly happen. If it does, both teams will be entirely different.

Ranking all 30 NBA court designs:

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Rockets may trade Dwight Howard for Hassan Whiteside

30. Oklahoma City Thunder

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29. Los Angeles Clippers

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28. Houston Rockets

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27. Detroit Pistons

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26. Miami Heat

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25. New Orleans Pelicans

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24. San Antonio Spurs

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23. Chicago Bulls

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22. Minnesota Timberwolves

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21. Phoenix Suns

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20. Utah Jazz

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19. Cleveland Cavaliers

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18. Memphis Grizzlies

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17. Denver Nuggets

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16. Indiana Pacers

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15. Washington Wizards

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14. Dallas Mavericks

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13. Sacramento Kings

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12. Orlando Magic

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11. Atlanta Hawks

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10. Golden State Warriors

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9. Portland Trail Blazers

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8. Philadelphia 76ers

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7. Toronto Raptors

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6. New York Knicks

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5. Milwaukee Bucks

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4. Charlotte Hornets

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3. Brooklyn Nets

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2. Boston Celtics

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1. Los Angeles Lakers

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