By Jean-Paul Salamanca ( | First Posted: Jan 21, 2013 08:25 PM EST

Zach Randolph, left, is reportedly being shopped to the Rockets, which could create a terrific trio of himself, James Harden, second from right and Jeremy Lin, third from right. Meanwhile, Atlanta and Dallas are emerging as potential trade suitors for the Lakers' Dwight Howard, right. (Photo : Reuters)

Could the answer for the Houston Rockets' defensive woes be found in the man known as Zebo?

With Memphis looking to shed some salary cap space in order to avoid the league's pricey salary cap penalties, Zach Randolph, the Grizzlies' standout scorer, defender and rebounder, is reportedly on the trading block, with Houston's name being floated as a potential trade partner for the Grizzlies.

This isn't the first time the Grizzlies have emerged as a name with big players to give up, as Rudy Gay has also been mentioned in trade rumors coming from Memphis. However, word broke Sunday that Memphis may opt instead to keep Gay while shipping Randolph to Houston, which has a lot of cap space they can offer.

"Source says that the Memphis Grizzlies may keep Rudy Gay, and instead trade Zach Randolph to the Houston Rockets. Houston loves Randolph," tweeted Alex Kennedy of Hoopsworld.

While he might be 31--older than many of the current Rockets roster--Randolph, who is averaging 16.3 points and 11.8 rebounds this season, is in his prime and has been a big reason for why Memphis has been a perennial Western Conference title contender in the last three seasons.

At 6'9" and 360 pounds, the physical Randolph, who has a reputation for being a hellacious interior defender, would provide an instant upgrade to the Rockets' league-worst offense (allowing opponents 103.5 points per game.)

One of the biggest problems the Rockets have had is their lack of interior defense; too often, Houston has allowed opponents to drive uncontested to the lane. Adding in Randolph to pair alongside Omer Asik would change the look of Houston's interior immensely, adding a big body, able defender and a torrid rebounder all at once. Plus, adding another rebounder on the defensive end shouldn't hurt either.

And on offense, pairing Randolph with Lin and Harden would give Houston a triple-threat offense, adding a reliable scorer to take the heat off Harden, and perhaps opening up more opportunities for Lin, with teams being too worried about stopping Harden and Randolph.

Of course, all of this is speculation at this point, and it should be interesting to see what unfolds as the trade deadline looms near.

Atlanta and Dallas could make offers for Dwight Howard

He's the most talked-about center in the NBA-both for his All-Star caliber play and his semi-annual tendancy to appear in trade talks.

With the L.A. Lakers continuing to struggle, the Dwight Howard trade rumors have been cropping up left and right with the trade deadline only weeks away.

The Atlanta Hawks are reportedly the latest to be inquiring of the availability of Howard, with a potential for a trade between Atlanta and L.A. involving Hawks star Josh Smith, who is averaging 16.5 points this season. While he can score and play aggressive defense-both things needed in L.A.-Smith has also due $13.2 million with a year left on his contract, and surely the small-market Hawks are itching to have that paycheck off their books.

However, if Howard is indeed on the trading block-only an offseason removed from the four-team super-deal that saw the two-time Defensive Player of the Year traded to the Lakers-Atlanta could face some serious competition in the Dallas Mavericks.

With Mark Cuban recently stating that he is open to trade virtually all of Dallas' players-save Dirk Nowitzki-the Mavs could offer L.A. any number of pieces, even superstar O.J. Mayo, their 25-year-old shooting guard who is averaging 18.2 points this season.

Although the Lakers have their own shooting guard star-Kobe Bryant-and a loaded backcourt, perhaps this could lead to a three-way deal of some sort with another perspective team that could take Mayo off the Lakers hands, perhaps in exchange for young legs that could keep up with Lakers coach Mike D'Antoni's relentless offense.

With the Lakers having lost eight of their last 10 games and nursing a 17-23 win-loss record, it's obvious that they need to change something. Could giving up a superstar in Howard for younger pieces be the way to go?

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