One thing that happens to fans quite often right at the end of a big trade or signing is they begin to worry. This is particularly true in Houston, where trades getting rescinded by the NBA is an actual possibility. In this case, it's the massive free-agent signing of center Dwight Howard.
The league has some weird rules relating to free agents. The free agency period actually opened on July 1, but teams were not allowed to sign players until July 10. Additionally, trades made at that time could not be completed until Wednesday as well. For many teams, that meant a long, complicated sequence of events must take place in a very specific order for them to get players signed. Think the scene with Gary Sinise in Apollo 13 when he's trying to figure out how to power the ship back up without blowing out all the power...only more confusing.
For the Rockets to sign Howard, they must clear enough salary cap space to give him a max dollars deal. The first part of that was to trade Thomas Robinson to Portland, which happened yesterday. Unlike in the NFL, the vast majority of contracts in the NBA are guaranteed, which means even if a player is released, his salary must be paid and it counts against the salary cap.
Next up for the Rockets will be to complete their trade with Philadelphia. They sent troubled forward Royce White to Philly along with a young Turkish prospect. White has said he is happy to go to the Sixers and was in Iowa yesterday for an event at his alma mater, Iowa State. How long is a bus ride from Iowa to Philly?
Once that is done, the team then must sign its second-round draft pick and then Howard. Beyond that, they are planning to re-sign Francisco Garcia and sign free agents Omri Casspi and Reggie Williams.
The good news is there appear to be no hurdles to getting all the deals done. The team expects to have Howard signed tomorrow and is planning an event for Saturday that may include the public.
So, don't freak out, Rockets fans. Your long, national Dwightmare is just about over.
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