Dwight Howard not seeking trade, though free agency seen as likely

With the Houston Rockets struggling to get over .500, questions have begun to surface about the happiness of star center Dwight Howard.

While acknowledging Howard is unhappy with losing, sources said Howard has not expressed a desire to be traded.

Howard has a player option for next season at $23.2 million. The team expects him to become a free agent, taking advantage of a salary cap that is projected to expand from $67 million to nearly $90 million.

Becoming a free agent would give Howard, 30, one last chance to lock up a lucrative deal.

Tuesday night, after SheridanHoops.com reported that Howard was unhappy playing second fiddle to James Harden, Howard disputed that notion.

"I haven't said nothing to nobody about anything," Howard said after the Rockets' 107-97 loss Tuesday to Sacramento. "I've been positive, trying to turn this thing around any way possible. People always going to make up lies or rumors to get off. But I haven't said nothing or anything to anybody.

"That's never been a focus. (It's) to try to get these guys to play better, to make myself to play better."

In an interview with USA Today after the loss to the Kings, Howard said: "I chose to go to Houston, so why would I just say, 'I'm not happy' and leave?"

Houston visits the Los Angeles Lakers on Thursday.