After the Rockets reached the Western Conference finals last season, a majority of the players made the case to GM Daryl Morey to keep the team together. Morey, a man who believes in upgrades, did so. And what has it gotten him and owner Leslie Alexander? A 27-26 record and a team not even close to being elite. And with two games left in the first half of their season, at Golden State and at Portland, the ability to finish as the No. 8 seed seems more realistic by the day. “Right now we’re playing like our record, we’re playing bad,” Dwight Howard said. “But we have to think and believe we can win and get better. We got the second half of the season coming up, so I think this is a time for us to really focus on how can we come back in the second half of the season and make that turnaround.”

Dwight Howard not going to Boston

Howard won’t be going to Boston, league sources told The Vertical, and the reason is simple: The asking price is just too steep. The Celtics like Howard, believe he can be a cornerstone player but are unwilling to part with any significant assets – including Brooklyn’s coveted first-round pick – to get him. Boston is aggressively pursuing deals and is motivated to add a frontcourt player to its promising young roster, but Howard won’t be one of them.
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The landscape, though, could be rougher than Howard thinks. Asked by The Vertical if Howard would be a max or near-max player this summer, three league executives had the same response: no. “Three-years, $60 million,” an Eastern Conference general manager said. “I’m not going any higher than that.” Added a team personnel scout: “I don’t know that I’d make a serious offer. That back is always going to scare me.”