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Report: Al Horford is Rockets’ top priority in free agency, Ryan Anderson also a possibility

Atlanta Hawks v Houston Rockets

HOUSTON, TX - DECEMBER 20: Dwight Howard #12 of the Houston Rockets defends against Al Horford #15 of the Atlanta Hawks during their game at the Toyota Center on December 20, 2014 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Scott Halleran/Getty Images)

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If you didn’t already believe Dwight Howard would opt out and leave the Rockets this summer, the center saying he knows better than Houston general manager Daryl Morey because Morey never played pretty much clinches it. You don’t publicly criticize someone like that if you want him to pay you.

So, as Howard eyes other (greener?) pastures, the Rockets are ranking potential replacements – like Al Horford and Ryan Anderson.

Sean Deveney of Sporting News:

A person familiar with the organization told Sporting News that landing Hawks star Al Horford is the Rockets’ top-line goal in free agency, and Ryan Anderson also would be a possibility.

Horford would be an excellent fit in Houston and an upgrade over Howard. Horford a premier defensive center and tremendously skilled offensively. His versatility would allow him to play with Clint Capela, the Rockets’ center of the future who’s more of a traditional rim protector than Horford. Depending on the rest of the roster, Horford could easily start at power forward (or center with Capela at power forward – however you want to label them).

But there will be plenty of competition for Horford, including the Celtics and Magic. He’s worth a four-year max contract, though some teams might pause considering he turns 30 next week. And, yes, his value might turn negative by the end of that contract. But Horford would be such a boost in the first couple years, I’d take that chance. Houston is just a chemistry upgrade from making noise again, and Horford is known as a good teammate. Add the production upgrade from Howard, who really faltered this year, and it’d be a very good signing.

Anderson would be a little more suspect, though he’s likely more attainable. He provides value as a stretch four, but it’d add pressure on Capela to hold down the fort defensively. Capela looks increasingly capable of doing that, so Anderson could be a good fit – if Houston can’t get Horford.