We now stand just a few days away from the 2012 NBA Draft. I can’t tell you what the Rockets will do because it’s anyone’s guess, as has been the case for quite some time. They could deal the picks, or one of them, for a veteran. They could also use the picks. The only thing which is certain is that they will not draft based on “need.” To those thinking that a center will be chosen inevitably with one of the picks, understand this: the Rockets have not and never will draft for “need” during Daryl Morey’s tenure. If they take a center, it’s because they feel he is the best player available at that selection.
Dwight Howard will be the first option. But if nothing sticks there, do they hold their cards again and await the end of that saga or do they move on to Plan B? If Gasol can be had at a fair price, do they just take the bird in hand? The team wanted Gasol last year, paired with Nene, and was willing to overpay for both because of the combined value. Would they feel the same way if it were Omer Asik instead, in Nene’s place? The team has always had interest in Asik, one of the best defender’s in the league. But that was at a minimum salary and through trade. Would they commit high dollars with the cap room they have waited for so long to free up? Gasol-Asik would undeniably be formidable upfront. Formidable, but not enough to make this team a contender.
What if Gasol costed only Lowry and Scola and Asik was bought with the cash saved up? You’d still have the #14 and #16, and Kevin Martin, to play with as remaining trade chips. If trading Martin for Minnesota’s 18th, how high could you climb by then packaging those three picks?
In 2001, the Rockets used the #13, #18, and #23 to climb up to #7 to take the late Eddie Griffin. If they could climb that high again, I think they’d do it. Quality over quantity is the game’s name at this point in time.
Gasol, Asik, Parsons, Lee, and Dragic is a quality lineup. Motiejunas and the new high rookie could bring hope off the bench. There would also be the chance of production from Marcus Morris. With a full year of Marcus Camby, that team would win 50 games and threaten a second round run. But they wouldn’t contend.
Therein lies the dilemma. The Rockets have pieces, money, and serious options to improve their team. But few of those routes would give them the foundation of a bonafide contender. Do they keep waiting for the homerun or take the bird in hand?