Multiple reports are confirming that the New York Knicks have declined to match the offer sheet agreed to by Jeremy Lin and the Houston Rockets. Translation: Linsanity is now coming [back] to Houston.
On the other side of the river, Houston’s rookies continued their impressive run in summer league play, posting collectively gaudy totals: Terrence Jones led the way with 24 points and 12 boards, Donatas Motiejunas had 20 and 12, Jeremy Lamb posted 23 and 6, and Royce White finished with 6-12-8.
After incurring some early mockery post-draft night, things are invariably looking good in Houston.
The 23-year-old Lin provides Houston with, if not a star, at the least a competent point man three years younger than the incumbents. If no more moves are made, he’ll fit right in with the youth movement.
Now, the team will await the decision on Bulls center Omer Asik. As SI’s Zach Lowe explains, even if Asik is not matched, the Rockets will still have room to take back $13million of toxic Magic contracts. In other words, the signings of Lin and Asik will not jeopardize a Howard deal.
Several have wondered why the team would be willing to sell the farm over a potential rental when it finally seems it has stockpiled an impressive collection of youthful talent. Make no mistake: Dwight Howard is worth it.
Howard, maybe the game’s second or third most dominant player, is just a few years removed from carrying a Magic team with Rafer Alston masquerading at point guard to the Finals. He would immediately catapult Houston into the conversation. If there is even just a 25% chance that he would stay (I’d place that figure at much higher given the substantially higher amount of money that Houston could offer), those odds themselves are higher than those of any of the team’s current players or future draft picks developing into someone like Dwight. Thus, general manager Daryl Morey’s insistence on a deal.
Moreover, my suspicion is that the price for Orlando has gone up. While they might have been able to land all three Houston draft picks on draft night, with Brooklyn out of the picture and no other plausible suitors in the field, after these impressive summer league showings, the Magic might just be confined to landing one Houston rookie. Morey certainly knows his position and won’t overpay.
Any way you look at it, the Houston Rockets are in a really good spot. If they land Howard now, they probably won’t have to give up that much and given Morey’s track record of finding talent on the cheap, will be able to restock the cupboard quickly of the parts lost.
If haggling continues, and they pass on Howard, fans will have an impressive quartet of rookies (Motiejunas, Jones, White, Lamb), in addition to Lin and Parsons, of whom to look forward to watching play and develop. They’d then have two more likely lottery picks next year with which to add to that young core. With forward Luis Scola gone and Kevin Martin also likely on the way out, the team would finally have a direction. Whatever happens these next few days, the team will finally have a direction.
For years, the Rockets meddled in the middle, playing vets who weren’t good enough to win the ring but did nothing for the future. This summer’s moves ensure a direction. The Houston Rockets are either moving up or they’re going young. They will not be stuck in the middle. That alone is enough cause to rejoice.