The Houston Rockets aren’t guaranteed to re-sign veteran center Dwight Howard if he becomes an unrestricted free agent July 1, but don’t expect them to trade him, either.

“As much as Dwight Howard’s name was kicked around earlier in the season, league sources continue to say that Houston is not looking at Howard trades and that the odds of Howard being moved are so incredibly small it’s not worth exploring,” Steve Kyler of Basketball Insiders wrote earlier this week.

The Rockets advanced to the Western Conference finals last season for the first time since 1996-97. Houston’s superstar duo of James Harden and Dwight Howard was a primary reason. The Los Angeles Clippers and San Antonio Spurs having to play each other in the first round certainly helped, too, making the road through the West a bit easier.

This campaign doesn’t appear to be headed for another late-May ending.

The Rockets currently are seventh in the West standings. If they don’t move out of the bottom two playoff spots, they’ll face an enormous and likely unwinnable challenge in the first round against the Spurs or Golden State Warriors.

Howard is averaging 14.4 points and 12 rebounds per game, which is pretty solid for a center in today’s NBA. There’s no reason for the Rockets to trade him before the Feb. 18 NBA trade deadline if his value is so low and his production continues at the current rates.

Howard leaving via free agency wouldn’t necessarily be a huge deal for Houston. That scenario just opens up even more salary cap space for Rockets general manager Daryl Morey, one of the NBA’s most creative and bold executives.

Thumbnail photo via Gregory J. Fisher/USA TODAY Sports Images

Thumbnail photo via NBA trade rumors: Dwight Howard wants out of Houston