Houston Rockets: Dwight Howard and Josh Smith Headline Offseason Free Agent Priorities List

By Michael Ma

May 3, 2013; Atlanta, GA, USA; Atlanta Hawks small forward Josh Smith (5) shoots a basket over Indiana Pacers small forward Gerald Green (25) in the first quarter of game six of the first round of the 2013 NBA Playoffs at Philips Arena. Mandatory Credit: Daniel Shirey-USA TODAY Sports

As the anticipation for the free agency period gets higher each day, the Houston Rockets are closer to finalizing their priority list for the summer.

While the Rockets will be shifting most of their attention to try and sign Dwight Howard, they will make Atlanta Hawks forward Josh Smith as their no. 2 target.  Long time NBA columnist Peter Vecsey of the New York Post tweeted on Tuesday that not only will Houston go after Smith if Howard is unavailable, but the Philadelphia 76ers will try to woo Smith in as well.

If Rockets are unable to recruit Dwight Howard, I’m told second preference is Josh Smith. Sixers also targeting Smith, says a source

— Peter Vecsey (@PeterVecsey1) June 3, 2013

All the headlines will be on Howard this summer, but Smith might be the safer and even possibly, the better fit for the Rockets.  The hopes for the Los Angeles Lakers retaining Howard are still pretty high, while it looks like the Hawks have chosen to move in a different direction.  ESPN reported earlier this week that Atlanta will make Howard and Chris Paul their top free agent targets.

Houston was interested in trading for Smith at the trade deadline last season, but didn’t have the pieces that Atlanta was looking for in return.  He would immediately fill the hole at power forward, and is close to the ideal 4-man that the Rockets look for: an up-tempo, athletic big man who can knock down threes, post up, block shots, and rebound.

Should Howard indeed jump on board to Houston, the Rockets will also be left to make a quick decision on Omer Asik, who has two years remaining on his $25 million contract.  While the chips will be all in for D12, Josh Smith won’t be a bad 2nd option at all.