Rockets may trade Dwight Howard for Hassan Whiteside

Shot-Blocking Hassan Whiteside Has No Fear of Getting Dunk on

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.

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Dwight Howard through his career
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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

(Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

29. Los Angeles Clippers

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28. Houston Rockets

(Photo by Scott Halleran/Getty Images)

27. Detroit Pistons

(Photo by J. Dennis/Einstein/NBAE via Getty Images)

26. Miami Heat

(Photo by Chris Trotman/Getty Images)

24. San Antonio Spurs

(Photos by D. Clarke Evans/NBAE via Getty Images)

23. Chicago Bulls

(Photo by Jeffrey Phelps/NBAE via Getty Images)

22. Minnesota Timberwolves

(Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images)

21. Phoenix Suns

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20. Utah Jazz

(Photo by Gene Sweeney Jr/Getty Images)

19. Cleveland Cavaliers

(Photo by Jamie Sabau/Getty Images)

18. Memphis Grizzlies

(Photo by Frederick Breedon/Getty Images)

17. Denver Nuggets

(Photo by Garrett W. Ellwood/NBAE via Getty Images)

16. Indiana Pacers

(Photo by Jesse D. Garrabrant/NBAE via Getty Images)

15. Washington Wizards

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14. Dallas Mavericks

(Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)

13. Sacramento Kings

(Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)

12. Orlando Magic

(Photo by Sam Greenwood/Getty Images)

11. Atlanta Hawks

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10. Golden State Warriors

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9. Portland Trail Blazers

(Photo by Cameron Browne/NBAE via Getty Images)

8. Philadelphia 76ers

(Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images)

7. Toronto Raptors

(Photo by Vaughn Ridley/Getty Images)

6. New York Knicks

(Photo by Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE via Getty Images)

5. Milwaukee Bucks

(Photo by Jeffrey Phelps/NBAE via Getty Images)

4. Charlotte Hornets

(Photo by Scott Cunningham/NBAE via Getty Images)

3. Brooklyn Nets

(Photo by Alex Goodlett/Getty Images)

2. Boston Celtics

(Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

1. Los Angeles Lakers

(Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)

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