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UPDATES below.

In other tweets, he also says that the Thunder have balked at an Ibaka/Harden asking price, and that trading Howard to the Celtics for Rondo would be Eastern Conference suicide.

If this report is true, it would be a no-brainer, especially given recent developments in the standings.  The Rockets could swing for the fences and if striking out over the summer and losing Howard, they’d have a fresh slate with which to rebuild.  The mediocrity train would be averted.

UPDATED: I’m pretty skeptical of this report.  It’s not saying that “if the Magic were to trade Dwight to Houston, they would prefer Lowry.”  It’s insinuating that, in contrasting against a Hawks offer, that they prefer and covet a Houston deal centered around Lowry over anything else in the field.  That’s really pretty hard to believe, but stranger things have happened.  If I were Orlando, I would take Bynum or just play out the season with Dwight.

In any event, if the report is true, it’s a no-brainer for Houston.  Dealing Lowry for Pau is a major risk, and one I probably wouldn’t take, because it potentially perpetuates mediocrity.  With this, if Dwight leaves, the Rockets would have a fresh slate, something they desperately need.  Right now, unless Les Alexander sells the team or Morey leaves, I don’t see any other way for the team to deroute from this current track.  They’re simply too good at talent evaluation to be organically bad.  They have to swing for the fences.

Depending on who all would be sent to Florida, you could make a run for the playoffs this year with Dwight, Dragic, Martin, and Scola, hoping to convince the big man of his surroundings.  Then in the summer, you fly in Hakeem, dust off the phonebook of Chinese contacts, and pray for the best.  If the Mavs are unable to trade Shawn Marion next week, they will not have the capacity to sign both Dwight Howard and Deron Williams.

If the plan fails, the team is lotto-bound, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing, given the current state of affairs.  If all works out, you could end up with a nucleus of Williams, Martin, Howard, one of Scola/Patterson, and certainly at least one of Lee, Morris, Budinger, and Parsons.

UPDATE: Now that I re-read it, I actually think those two clauses are meant to be taken separately ie: “If Orlando were to take a Houston deal, they’d want Lowry in it.” which isn’t anything we already didn’t know.

in musings

My stance on tanking

Many of you have expressed confusion over my stance on ‘tanking’ in recent days.  I’m writing this here because 140 characters won’t suffice.  You’ll most likely see me link to this as reference during our chats, as the season progresses.

When I promote ‘tanking’, it should be understood that I mean that that is what should have been done from the start, or early on.  I am not advocating that it should now be a policy going forward.  

Despite the team’s recent string of losses, it’s now far too late to tank; it would be pointless.  If even continuing to lose at a consistent rate, the Rockets’ current record already precludes a top draft slot.  Getting a pick in the #10 to #14 range would serve little benefit.  It’s unlikely that the player chosen would even break the rotation (see: Morris, Marcus) and he would tie up scarce resources.  Donatas Motiejunas is already slated to return and teams do not like to carry multiple high-priced rookies.

[I’ve already explained in depth why the Rockets should have tanked from the start.]

[read more…]

in from the editor

How analytics can help the Rockets

With ideas capable of upgrading organizations and making life easier for coaches, players, and team executives, the MIT Sloan Sports Analytics conference is somewhat of a dream scenario for those who make their living in the business of sports. Words like “groundbreaking” and “innovative” don’t begin to do the presented research justice. But at the same time some of the separate findings contradict one another, making it difficult to weed through the results and select what might be constituted as the “right” way. One paper, titled “Experience and Winning in the National Basketball Association”, suggests that keeping a starting five intact from year to year increases postseason win totals. “NBA Chemistry: Positive and Negative Synergies in Basketball” indirectly challenged these findings by saying if the New Orleans Hornets had traded Chris Paul to Utah for Deron Williams before the 2010-11 season, both franchises would’ve benefited.

Now, a quick disclaimer before we dive deep into what I’ve found that could be helpful to the Rockets moving forward: Just because cutting-edge data says probabilities increase within the vacuum of a given situation does not mean anything is guaranteed or promised. It must be kept in mind that these numbers were berthed when thousands of players participated in hundreds of thousands of possessions, and that everything moving forward is technically separated from everything that happened in the past. The purpose of analytics isn’t to find absolute answers—sports is an entity ultimately decided by human error—but to make the long road to a championship a bit less foggy. [read more…]

in essays
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Discerning Morey’s Philosophy – Part 6

I haven’t updated this series since October 15, 2010, a gap of close to two years. There’s no point in trying to rehash all that we’ve learned during that span – too much has happened.

But there was a pretty interesting development over the weekend, at this year’s Sloan Sports Analytics Conference, which merited some documentation of sorts.

Since the fall of Yao, and the end of any realistic hope of title contention, many had wondered why management refused to allow evolution to take its natural course.  When the life of good teams runs its course, they get bad, get high draft picks, and build back up.  Even when the pick itself isn’t kept as part of the team, it’s usually used as part of a trade to bring in talent (see: the rebirth of the Boston Celtics.)  High lottery picks are the currency of NBA markets.

[read more…]

in essays
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A reader, Zero, has been watching Rockets prospect Donatas Motiejunas from up close:

The first thing that you notice is the guy’s energy. D-Mo rarely stays still. Despite his size, he’s dynamic, quick on his feet and he loves to run the floor (he had a sweet runaway dunk during the game I saw). On the offensive end he’s got some really smooth post moves, and oftentimes manages to shake off the defender and go for an easy layup – I can really picture him becoming a great post player once coach McHale starts to work with him on these skills. (I know that’s overreacting, but I swear some of his moves in the paint reminded me of the Dream). In addition to attacking the basket, he can shoot it from distance and seems quite confident from the foul line (I didn’t see him take many free throws, but he did make all of them).

But despite being the primary option (he easily led the team in scoring that night), he also made some nice dishes to open teammates and you always have to appreciate a big man with decent court vision, so that’s definitely a plus.

Click for the full write-up.

in from the editor

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