Dwight Howard: The Morning After

So much has transpired in the last 24 hours that I am just now really completely gathering my thoughts.  You can read the entire Dwight Howard Free Agency series here if you want to relive the agony and subsequent glory.

I was laying in bed late last night with Sportscenter on, Dwight on the screen, thinking back to the early days of Red94.  The days of the team chasing around everyone under the sun with an Ipad–from Chris Bosh to Chris Paul, to even Dwight himself–and repeatedly getting rejected.  To be here now – it feels good, man.  The Rockets now have one of the most enviable duos in basketball, both players in their prime, locked up for the foreseeable future.  This is really a chance at redemption; a chance to overcome the demons haunting the franchise in the aftermath of the respective careers of Tracy McGrady and Yao Ming – a chance to live what we thought could have been, for that reviled, tantalizing duo.

I think back to the days when the likes of Kyle Lowry and Chuck Hayes were this team’s best players – lunch pail guys who sweated tears and blood but who weren’t enough to lift us from mediocrity.  It seemed hopeless but Daryl Morey stuck with his plan and executed.  It’s astonishing really, and probably still isn’t properly appreciated or understood in the general public.  It’s 2013 and we’re just four years removed from the shambles of our last contending team and back again on a path to contention without having suffered a losing season in between.  It feels good, man.

There are some in the local media, even celebrating now, who sh*tted on Morey and his staffers every step of the way, from the trite laptop jokes to other basic misunderstandings of smart management and process analytics.  They owe an apology.  Oh, it’ll be said now that the calls for a parade are premature, that nothing yet has been won and that the games have yet to be played.  Morey and his staff have already won – in assembling this core, he did the most that could be asked of any general manager.  Now it’s on the players and coach to bring the results, on the court.

This wasn’t just luck – this was the execution of a plan that’s been in motion from the start when it first seemed that Yao Ming would never be the same again.  Yes, there are those in the print and on the airwaves who mocked Morey every step of the way.  They failed to understand asset arbitrage and the importance of flipping players to accumulate value.  That’s how Rafer Alston led to Kyle Lowry who ultimately led to James Harden.  They failed to understand why marginal players were let go or weren’t re-signed at exorbitant costs or why the market always was allowed to set price rather than industry customs of ‘goodwill’ (i.e. see the Rockets’ long standing policy of not tendering extensions).  The critics snickered, right here in Houston, writing and saying that “flexibility doesn’t win championships.”  Now they see what flexibility does.  The Dwight Howard signing wasn’t luck.  It was the summit of a plan in motion for years to create value and create the space necessary to absorb a max free agent.  The plan finally paid off.

Now the Rockets turn towards filling in the pieces around their frightening new duo.  This is what Yao and McGrady didn’t have.  I’ve lost count of the number of times over the years that I’ve said “if only Morey had been the GM during the Yao/Mac prime rather than Dawson.”  Yao and McGrady wasted away their few spurts of health flanked by the likes of Ryan Bowen and Luther Head; these Rockets already have Chandler Parsons and Omer Asik (who can be swapped for value) as their 3rd and 4th best players.  For years, Morey proved his magnificence at uncovering hidden gems, time and time again, from Carl Landry, to Kyle Lowry, to Shane Battier, to Chandler Parsons, to Patrick Beverley.  Repeatedly, he stitched winning squads together on a shoe-string budget.  If only he could acquire stars, we thought, there’d be no question of whether he could surround them.  Now Morey has the stars.

I’ve seen many comments, from the national side or from the more casual, local fan, wondering how Houston can fill out its roster.  Those people haven’t been watching closely.  To those of us following, that’s the least of our worries right now.  The Rockets, under Morey, will always be able to find quality role players on the cheap.  That’s his specialty.

Rumors broke yesterday, shortly after the trade, that the Rockets were exploring deals for Josh Smith and Ryan Anderson (not in combination.)  Those were also refuted and there was also a report that Omer Asik had requested a trade.  The truth is unclear.  We’ve debated the merits of a Smith acquisition, to the point of exhaustion.  In terms of ‘fit’, Anderson is probably one of the very best in the league for a team featuring Dwight Howard.  But after thinking it over, I don’t think now is the time for ‘fit.’  Acquiring Josh Smith could be near disastrous – he won’t space the floor and his questionable decision-making can bog down an entire offense.  But his talents on the defensive end (ESPN’s Kevin Pelton rated him through statistical measures as the league’s very best perimeter defender) and in the open court are undeniable.  Now in contention, I want the Rockets to acquire the very best talent. If it doesn’t work out in the end, I can live with that.  But after seeing the Yao and McGrady years–after seeing the record setting playoff Game 4 in 2007 when only 4 Rockets scored–I don’t want to worry about fit.  I don’t want to ever again lose by feeling we didn’t have enough talent or were overmatched.  If we lose because our players didn’t mesh, that’s something I can live with.

Getting Smith would give the Rockets a lineup versatile enough to match up with the Thunder and Heat and a defender to match up with those teams’ best players.  It would give the Rockets an extra rim protector to help out Howard.  The potential problems on offense are undeniable.  But if that’s how we lose, I can live with it.

Right now, it remains to be seen if Smith can be acquired.  If traded for just Asik, Smith could only be signed to a deal within a percentage above Asik’s $8.3million salary (coming out to roughly $12million.)  The problem here is that Smith may be asking for far more than that.  Atlanta also just signed Paul Millsap.

If Houston can’t get Smith, I’d prefer they simply hold onto Asik for the time being, despite his alleged protests.  His value would seem far too high to just jettison hastily.

The other question is Jeremy Lin, the mercurial talent who, in some odd sense has actually become underrated amongst the Rockets faithful.  Perhaps no one on this roster would benefit more from Howard’s presence than Lin as the second year guard, like Harden, specializes in attacking off the pick and roll.  But now with aspirations of contention, rather than of mere relevance, is Lin the right man to steer this ship?  It’s well documented that he struggles against on-ball pressure (see: the Miami game his rookie year, or last year’s playoffs) and that’s not exactly a weakness from your point guard you can overcome.  But on the other hand, the same principle–like with Smith–applies.  With what’s available now, Lin is the highest upside option available.  It’s not smart to downgrade talent.  At still just 24, his ability to attack and create problems for opposing defenses is unquestionable, even by his staunchest detractors.  And its undeniable that his shooting accuracy drastically improved as the season progressed.  Lin may be a shaky hand but in today’s day and age, you need weapons everywhere.  And Lin, for his flaws, is a weapon.

In the coming weeks, Daryl Morey will fill out his roster.  He’s already dealt away Royce White, the face for how not to go about bringing awareness for a cause.  (That a deal could be struck is fortunate because had White needed to be waived, the team almost certainly would have needed to expend resources in litigating a frivolous ADA claim.) Morey will make decisions on Asik and Lin and fill out other holes on the cheap.  But for now, he has his man.  Last year, Morey got the first domino.  Now it’s complete.  With Dwight Howard, the Rockets’ foundation is set.

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Total comments: 27
  • tombrokeoff says 1 YEAR ago

    Great weekend to be a Rockets fan! I am ecstatic about the upcoming season and our future. Its going to be fun. I hope AT&T and Comcast strike a damn deal before the season gets underway or Ill have to finally take the undesired plunge and switch. I must say though, ever since Comcast updated their Xfinity user interface recently, it looks 1,000X better and actually looks on par with UVerse. I cant wait for the season!! I have high hopes and sure hope there are no letdowns.

  • Steven says 1 YEAR ago


    So we got DMo for Battier, essentially..... As of right now, we got fleeced. But who knows with DMo?

    We got Dmo for 3 months of Battier on a team that wasn't making the playoffs. His contract was expiring when he went to Memphis. Thabeet was then traded to the Trailblazers for Camby who was used in a sign in trade to get Douglas and second round picks. Douglas was shipped in the PPat trade to get Robinson who was shipped for 4 second rounders.
  • timetodienow1234567 says 1 YEAR ago

    So we got DMo for Battier, essentially..... As of right now, we got fleeced. But who knows with DMo?

  • Steven says 1 YEAR ago


    The thabeet/jonny Flynn trades were nothing to write home about at best.


    To get Thabeet they gave away Battier who was leaving after the season, and they got a first round pick from Memphis. That pick went to Minnesota in draft two years ago to move up to draft D-Mo. Minnesota finally was able to use that pick this year. Which they sold to GS.
  • sircharles says 1 YEAR ago

    actually in the jonnny flynn trade they alsoreceived Donates Motiejunas, and only gave up brad miller and the 23rd draft pick(nikola mikotic? who? right.)

    thabeet was a gamble, which sometimes you need to take for those 7'0 players,unfortunatelythey gave up battier for that but there was no reason to keep him any longer.

  • Cooper says 1 YEAR ago The thabeet/jonny Flynn trades were nothing to write home about at best.
  • Rockets fan newton says 1 YEAR ago I hear you bro..you got a point..still..he is the best GM in sports..and almost never had a bad trade 😉
  • Steven says 1 YEAR ago


    He fit te mold of young athletic and can shoot...and our GM is so great that he isn't afriad to admit mistakes and drops all players that don't live up to expectations quickly


    I agree with you. But you did say he never had a bad trade. Instead of Williams we would have had the 18th pick in this years draft. The 18th last year was some guy named Terrance Jones, this year it was Shane Larkin, but the Rockets could have done a draft and stash with the Russian taken with the very next pick.
  • Rockets fan newton says 1 YEAR ago


    Terrance Williams trade was bad. Other then that no.


    He fit te mold of young athletic and can shoot...and our GM is so great that he isn't afriad to admit mistakes and drops all players that don't live up to expectations quickly
  • rockets best fan says 1 YEAR ago

    Terrance Williams trade was bad. Other then that no.

    true......but Morey is as close to perfect as you will find in the GM business :P

  • Steven says 1 YEAR ago


    I tell u man we completely agree with just about everything..if we could every get u on board with Lin u would be on my Lvl LOL JK 😜..Morey will easily win GM of the year..i said years ago I believed in Morey(on another blog)..he hasn't one bad trade yet..and it all lead to this..we will compete for a championship this year.." In Morey We Trust"


    Terrance Williams trade was bad. Other then that no.
  • Rockets fan newton says 1 YEAR ago


    I was reading some rockets new today and ran across this


    For several years people have spoken of Sam Presti
    as one of the best general managers in the NBA.

    But he did this.

    Going into the 2012/2013 season the OKC Thunder had two Western
    Conference rivals - the Lakers and the Spurs (I know an argument could be made
    for the Clippers, but so long as Sterling owns the Clippers I can't take them
    seriously). Both of those teams were aging. We knew their windows were small.
    Nobody expected the Thunder to have a serious rival in the Western Conference in
    the foreseeable future.

    But then Presti and the ownership group in OKC
    decided to trade Harden to the Rockets instead of amnestying Perkins and giving
    Harden the contract he wanted. And now what do they have to show for it? Martin
    is gone. Lamb spent the year in the D-League. Steven Adams? A future pick from
    Dallas that is so protected that they may never see it?

    And here is the
    real rub. Without James Harden, the Rockets could have NEVER acquired Howard.
    With Howard, the Rockets are emerging as a serious contender in the West. And it
    won't stop there. We may acquire a third star. Regardless, you can bet money
    your Shane Battier/Ray Allen types will be lining up to take our vet minimum
    contracts from here on out. All because Presti opted for Perkins over
    Harden.

    Again - the Thunder now have a serious rival for years to come
    and they have nobody to blame for that but their own GM.

    I would be
    furious with Presti if I were a Thunder fan.

    I never want to hear anyone
    mention Presti as a better GM than Morey ever again. We are incredibly fortunate
    to have the man. Morey is just running circles around most other general
    managers.

    Can't wait to see what comes next!


    I couldn't agree more........we have the best GM in the league

    I tell u man we completely agree with just about everything..if we could every get u on board with Lin u would be on my Lvl LOL JK 😜..Morey will easily win GM of the year..i said years ago I believed in Morey(on another blog)..he hasn't one bad trade yet..and it all lead to this..we will compete for a championship this year.." In Morey We Trust"
  • ale11 says 1 YEAR ago

    Is more than the minimum, but you can go over the cap with exceptions, but not with a max, that's why Howard must be signed first

  • rockets best fan says 1 YEAR ago

    I was reading some rockets new today and ran across this

    For several years people have spoken of Sam Presti
    as one of the best general managers in the NBA.

    But he did this.

    Going into the 2012/2013 season the OKC Thunder had two Western
    Conference rivals - the Lakers and the Spurs (I know an argument could be made
    for the Clippers, but so long as Sterling owns the Clippers I can't take them
    seriously). Both of those teams were aging. We knew their windows were small.
    Nobody expected the Thunder to have a serious rival in the Western Conference in
    the foreseeable future.

    But then Presti and the ownership group in OKC
    decided to trade Harden to the Rockets instead of amnestying Perkins and giving
    Harden the contract he wanted. And now what do they have to show for it? Martin
    is gone. Lamb spent the year in the D-League. Steven Adams? A future pick from
    Dallas that is so protected that they may never see it?

    And here is the
    real rub. Without James Harden, the Rockets could have NEVER acquired Howard.
    With Howard, the Rockets are emerging as a serious contender in the West. And it
    won't stop there. We may acquire a third star. Regardless, you can bet money
    your Shane Battier/Ray Allen types will be lining up to take our vet minimum
    contracts from here on out. All because Presti opted for Perkins over
    Harden.

    Again - the Thunder now have a serious rival for years to come
    and they have nobody to blame for that but their own GM.

    I would be
    furious with Presti if I were a Thunder fan.

    I never want to hear anyone
    mention Presti as a better GM than Morey ever again. We are incredibly fortunate
    to have the man. Morey is just running circles around most other general
    managers.

    Can't wait to see what comes next!


    I couldn't agree more........we have the best GM in the league

  • Cooper says 1 YEAR ago Garcias deal is the minimum...
  • rockets best fan says 1 YEAR ago

    The morning after. Plan A worked out. Thank god we didn't have to use plan B.

    See what I did there?

    Anyway... aside from the crude jokes, Why did we drop Trob if we are able to sign Garcia for so much???

    because we could only use that money after howard was already on the books.

    there were a lot of doubters on plan A, however my approach has always been you never leave the dance without at least talking to the prettiest girl. never defeat yourself mentally before you ever get in the game. my plan B is always to make plan A better :lol:

  • Steven says 1 YEAR ago Cap room. Dwight will sign his deal first. Then the Rockets will use their exception to sign Garcia.
  • bboley24 says 1 YEAR ago

    The morning after. Plan A worked out. Thank god we didn't have to use plan B.

    See what I did there?

    Anyway... aside from the crude jokes, Why did we drop Trob if we are able to sign Garcia for so much???

  • rockets best fan says 1 YEAR ago

    I figured that since this is a "we finally got Dwight" thread, this was a proper article to post.

    http://www.sbnation.com/nba/2013/7/6/4497948/dwight-howard-houston-rockets-daryl-morey-nba-free-agency

    In Morey I trust!

    totally agree............in Morey I trust. if you think other teams raided our front office this year......just wait until next year. got to give a shout out to les alexander also. he saw in Morey the future of the nba. which just goes to prove you don't have to be themost intelligent to be successful........just thesmartest at knowing how to put the puzzle together. looking back at the last3 seasons....where we have come from with basically never getting a draft pick over 14th is amazing.if Morey doesn't get GM of the year.........it's an injustice :rolleyes:

  • sircharles says 1 YEAR ago

    i'm just gad that dwight wasnt traded here and that he CHOSE to come to houston.

  • ale11 says 1 YEAR ago

    I figured that since this is a "we finally got Dwight" thread, this was a proper article to post.

    http://www.sbnation.com/nba/2013/7/6/4497948/dwight-howard-houston-rockets-daryl-morey-nba-free-agency

    In Morey I trust!

  • Rahat Huq says 1 YEAR ago

    I can see that, John. Either way, I really hope they don't part with either Jones or D-Mo. I am guilty of overrating both of those players, but I really have high hopes for them.

  • Steven says 1 YEAR ago




    I wonder if the Rockets are waiting to see what T Jones brings in summer league before deciding on JSmoove. Jones seems like he could be a Josh Smith lite, right down to the forgettable name.


    Josh Smith is Terrance Jones lite.
  • bob schmidt says 1 YEAR ago

    The impact on salaries matching would be almost identical to Josh Smith.... I'd just as soon keep Asik and add nobody to our new roster beyond Howard, but wouldn't Aldridge be a better PF for the same money as Josh?

  • Jeby says 1 YEAR ago

    I wonder if the Rockets are waiting to see what T Jones brings in summer league before deciding on JSmoove. Jones seems like he could be a Josh Smith lite, right down to the forgettable name.

  • Rahat Huq says 1 YEAR ago

    I can't see the Blazers going for that, not to mention it'd take throwing in Lin as well to make salaries match.

  • bob schmidt says 1 YEAR ago

    If there is an 'obligation' to try to get Smith onboard to make Dwight happy, I can understand an attempt being made. However, I would seriously approach the Blazers and try to fashion a trade of Aldridge for Asik and one of our young PFs if we could make the salaries work. Portland is going nowhere soon enough to keep LaMarcus happy, so they would be likely to seriously consider a mutually beneficial trade if we could get the numbers to work IMHO.... Could this be a possibility? Would the salaries work?.