Howard Turns Rockets from Promising to Contenders

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  • HOUSTON (AP) — Last offseason, the Houston Rockets were an afterthought, a young team with little star power.

    Now, after trading for James Harden just before this past season and adding Dwight Howard on Friday, Houston is suddenly primed to contend sooner than almost anybody expected.

    Still, Houston general manager Daryl Morey knows nabbing Howard is only the first step in a long process for his team.

    “We haven’t accomplished anything yet, but we’re putting something pretty cool together, I think,” Morey said in an interview with Comcast SportsNet Houston.

    Howard is the Rockets’ latest superstar center, following Hall of Famer Hakeem Olajuwon and eight-time All-Star Yao Ming.

    They reached the playoffs for the first time since 2009 this season and battled back from a 3-0 deficit before being eliminated by the Oklahoma City Thunder in Game 6.

    Their return to the postseason showed they have plenty of speed and long-range scoring power with Harden, Jeremy Lin and Chandler Parsons. Omer Asik was a solid rebounder in the playoff run and averaged 12.3 points in the series, but it was clear that the team needed a more potent scoring threat inside.

    The addition of Howard gives them just that, as the 6-foot-11 star has averaged more than 18 points and almost 13 rebounds in his nine-year career.

    His one season in Los Angeles was filled with unrest, including what many believed to be a less than positive relationship with Kobe Bryant. Bryant unfollowed Howard on Twitter on Friday night after he announced his decision to join the Rockets with a tweet.

    It was the end of a short tenure with the Lakers in which Howard averaged 17 points and almost 11 rebounds in the playoffs, where the injury-riddled team was swept by the San Antonio Spurs in the first round.

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