Where we stand as the weekend commences

Here’s my interview (10 minute podcast) from Friday afternoon with ESPN Radio’s The Blitz where I explained where things stand with respect to the Houston Rockets’ pursuit of Dwight Howard.  Not much has changed since that point except that the Rockets altered the offer sheet  given to Jeremy Lin, removing the fourth year on the contract and further stuffing year three with salary.  The New Yorkers are reportedly upset by the maneuver but are still expected to match.

As I explained on The Blitz, if we are to see movement on the Howard front, it might not come until later next week when the situations with Lin and Omer Asik are resolved.  Until it is known whether those players’ respective teams intend to match the Rockets’ offer, the Rockets and Magic in turn cannot know how many of the toxic Magic contracts Houston has the ability to absorb.

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As Y! Sports’ Adrian Wojnarowski tweeted just hours ago, the Houston Rockets have used the collective bargaining agreement’s amnesty provision to cut forward Luis Scola.  The deal clears the roughly $20million owed to the Argentinian from the team’s books, though they will still be on the hook for the bill in real-life fiscal terms.

Those circumstances naturally lead to the speculation that a Dwight Howard deal very well could be imminent.  Per Woj, the Rockets plan to file the papers tomorrow (Friday.).  While Woj mentions in his story on the move that no deal is imminent, it would seem to make little sense for the Rockets to commit to such an obligation sans some belief that a deal could get done.  To my knowledge, there would serve no explicit benefit to cutting Scola now as opposed to waiting things out until later.

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UPDATE: Via Yahoo’s Adrian Wojnarowski, the Houston Rockets have decided to use the amnesty provision on forward Luis Scola.

This from the Houston Chronicle:

Getting in position for the planned next move will be difficult. To create enough cap room for the kind of blockbuster trade that has been proposed, the Rockets are considering making veteran forward Luis Scola an amnesty cut, likely in the next 48 hours, a person with knowledge of the move said. That would create enough cap room for the Rockets to take on the additional contracts necessary to complete a trade for Howard.

Scola, 32, is due $21 million guaranteed over the next three seasons. The Rockets could wait until Tuesday to make Scola an amnesty cut, by which he would receive his full guaranteed salary but not count against the salary cap or luxury tax figures.

I had discussed the possibility of this nuclear option many times throughout the season: it would give the team the ability to take back the garbage contracts of the Orlando Magic, offering that team a full-fledged opportunity to reload.

As this is a family blog, I won’t go deep into the financial ramifications of the various potential possibilities at this moment – we’ll cross that bridge when it comes.  But there are several bad contracts any of which could be assigned to the Houston Rockets in mere days.

Contrary to popular belief, Hedo Turkoglu, owed $12million next year, is the least sinister amongst this group.  With just one year remaining, despite the lump sum, that’s a pill that is palatable.  Glen Davis (owed $6.4mill~ each of the next three years), and Jason Richardson (owed $5.8million, $6.2million, and $6.6million in the next three years) are the guys who will hurt.

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It was confirmed today by ESPN.com that the Houston Rockets are exploring scenarios that would bring them either Dwight Howard directly from Orlando or Andrew Bynum as compensation for their role in facilitating a deal.  Either acquisition would be a giant step for the franchise.

As several prominent national sources opined, talks with Brooklyn are in critical condition – any deal would be contingent upon a S&T of Brook Lopez; any acceptance by Lopez elsewhere of an offer sheet would take him out of play until December.

From the start, it made little to no sense that Orlando would accept Brooklyn’s rumored package.  I personally would actually pay money to not have Brook Lopez on my books at max dollars than to have him tying up that amount.  The latter scenario, which in a deal with Orlando would have been the Magic’s return for the league’s best center, is a recipe for mediocrity.  My suspicion is that word of those talks were leaked to drive up the price for competing bidders.

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Marcus Camby ended the 2011-12 season as a relevant big man in a league lacking such commodities, knowing he could contribute on a title contender on the final contract of his career, and still make a pretty good chunk of change doing so.

Looking at these parameters, Houston wasn’t a realistic fit. As presently constituted, the Rockets are A) not willing to sign anyone to a long term guaranteed contract, and B) not competing for a title. Thankfully, all the contenders that wanted to sign Camby were unable to do so at a price higher than the veteran’s minimum.

The result? An advantageous sign-and-trade with the Knicks that, as far as typically speck of dust deals go, was FANTASTIC for Houston. In return for roughly two months of Camby’s services, the Rockets received Jerome Jordan, Josh Harrellson, Toney Douglas, a second round pick in 2014, and a second round pick in 2015. Let’s break this haul down, shall we? [read more…]






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