Dwight Howard will not be the only object of the Rockets’ free-agent affections, and the Los Angeles Lakers center has not been the only subject of their intensive preparations for next month’s sales pitches.

Howard has generated by far the most attention as a Rockets free-agent target, but the team plans a similar and simultaneous pursuit of Los Angeles Clippers guard Chris Paul, a person with knowledge of the Rockets’ thinking said. According to another individual familiar with the team’s plans, “they are targets No. 1 and 1A.”

The difference is there have been far more indications Howard, a 6-11 center, will be receptive to the Rockets’ recruiting efforts. Although it is too early to know if Paul, a 6-0 guard, is disinterested or keeping his thoughts private, the Rockets have gone through detailed preparations to chase both.

Rockets players James Harden and Chandler Parsons have spoken with Howard about the Rockets and playing in Houston. Harden is even closer to Paul from their time together on the USA Basketball senior national team.

But Howard’s interest in the Rockets also could point to the difficulty in landing Paul.

According to an individual with knowledge of Howard’s thinking, Howard has been interested in playing for Rockets coach Kevin McHale and assistant coach J.B. Bickerstaff, citing among other things McHale’s style and playing history as a Hall of Famer.

With the Clippers’ coaching change, they likely also will be able to provide a coaching staff that would help entice Paul to stay in L.A.

Howard, 27, also has been open to signing a four-year contract, rather than the five-year deal the Lakers could offer, according to an individual with knowledge of his thinking, so he could time his return to free agency to coincide with the next NBA national television contracts and potentially a new collective bargaining agreement.

The Rockets would have work to do to create enough salary-cap room – the first season of Howard’s contract could be worth as much as $20.5 million; Paul’s could start at $18.7 million. But they have little concern that they would be able to offer a max contract.