Saturday, July 14, 2012

The Brilliance of Daryl Morey and the Houston Rockets

      It started with trading Chase Buddinger for the 18th pick in the NBA draft from Minnesota (via Utah). Following that Houston traded their own 14th pick and Samuel Dalembert to the Bucks to move up two spots in the draft and acquire the 12th pick. That gave the Rockets the 12th, 14th, & 18th picks and they drafted in order Jeremy Lamb, Royce White, and Terrence Jones. Since then it has been no secret what Houston's goal is. They want Dwight.
      The Rockets started to ship everyone out of Houston starting with Kyle Lowry to the Raptors for a future draft pick and cash. They then completed a sign and trade of center Marcus Camby to the Knicks for Tony Douglas and two second-round picks. Most recently the Rockets amnestied PF Luis Scola and his reasonable contract. Houston is all-in for Dwight Howard. Amassing salary cap room, draft picks, and young up-and-coming players. They are set to make the Orlando Magic an offer they can't refuse. They will take the bad contracts off Orlando's hands ala Jason Richardson, Chris Duhon, and Big Baby Davis, and they will give Magic a choice of draft picks and young players for Dwight. This gives Orlando what they want most, cap flexibility, young players, and draft picks to start rebuilding for the future. The problem for Rockets fans is that Dwight has said he will not re-sign in Houston as his contract is up after the 2012-2013 season so they could give up all those assets for Howard just to watch him walk next offseason and sign with a new team. So essentially they would be giving up a lot for nothing if they can't convince Dwight to re-sign in Houston.
      Let's go back to Houston for the last 10 seasons. They have only got past the first round of the playoffs once. The Rockets are the definition of a mediocre team. They make the playoffs most years or barely miss out with a record around .500. If they make the playoffs they lose in the first round or second round. They get a mediocre draft pick around 8-27. They draft a good role player but not a great one that can really change a franchise see: Steve Novak, Aaron Brooks, Carl Landry, and Patrick Patterson. From year to year the team stays nearly the same and the process is repeated. Draft 24th, go to playoffs, loose to Dallas in first round, draft 26th, barely miss playoffs, draft 8th, on and on. It has been the say way since Hakeem Olajuwon left the team in 2001. They are stuck in hole. Not good enough to contend for a title but not bad enough to get a high enough pick in the draft to be able to get a franchise changing player.
      Now back to Howard. If this trade goes through and, I think it will because it's the best offer Orlando likely will get, Houston will get the franchise player that they have been lacking. If they can resign him next summer and potentially sign Chris Paul too with all the cap room they have they would be instant contenders. If they aren't able to resign him next summer the Rockets plummet to being one of the worst teams in the NBA. Morey has recognized that he could bring Howard on for a year to help the team, try and build around him, and try to resign him and acquire CP3 to bring the team back to relevance. This can be seen as a huge risk as he is giving up a lot of future talent for one player, but is it? This is what makes Morey's move so smart; if Dwight doesn't re-up with the Rockets they become terrible. Terrible sometimes is not such a bad thing in the NBA. If the Rockets have really bad seasons they get really good draft picks so after three or so bad rebuilding seasons they could have three top ten in the draft guys. Look at last year's Western Conference Champion Oklahoma City Thunder. They were really bad for a few seasons but they drafted in the top ten three times in a row getting Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook, and James Harden. Also they added Serge Ibaka as a late round steal. Now they are contenders for a title and all really young, athletic, exciting players that are looking poised to makes runs at titles for a long time. Morey understands that in the NBA you can't be stuck at mediocre you have to be really good like they would be with Dwight Howard and Chris Paul or really bad like they would be if they couldn't retain Dwight. Either way the Rockets could contend for a title so actually the move to get Dwight isn't such a gamble after all.

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