The draft busts of 2009

Depending on your opinion of Earl Clark, it can be said that the Rockets now employ the four biggest busts from the draft class of 2009.  Even Gerald Henderson and Tyler Hansbrough have produced more thus far in their careers than the local team’s quartet.

That Houston has compiled these players is not too great a surprise.  The acquisitions fit in line with management’s ideology of seeking out undervalued commodities.  Pay a little and hope for a lot; low risk, high reward.

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Battier, Brooks revisited

At the time of last winter’s deadline, there was mixed reaction on the Rockets’ trading of Aaron Brooks and Shane Battier.  Both players were starters and integral components of the franchise’s last playoff team, yet both were slated to become free agents this summer; the club was not expected to retain either player’s services.

Last week’s draft filled in the missing pieces of those trades, allowing for evaluation:

From the Battier trade came Hasheem Thabeet and Memphis’ 2013 pick.

From the Brooks trade came Goran Dragic and the #23 pick in this year’s draft.

The team traded the #23 and the Memphis pick for this year’s #20 (selecting Donatas Motiejunas), Minnesota’s 2nd round pick in 2012, Jonny Flynn (the #6 overall pick in 2009), and the opportunity to dump the remaining $10million on Brad Miller’s contract.

If you’re still following along, Daryl Morey essentially traded half a season of Aaron Brooks and Shane Battier for Goran Dragic, Hasheem Thabeet, Donatas Motiejunas, Jonny Flynn, a likely high 2nd rounder, and some cap relief by expunging the poison pill that was Brad Miller’s contract.

Regardless of whether Thabeet ever pans out (he likely will not), the timeline above is yet another example of Morey creating assets out of nothing.  Had he complacently held on to Battier and Brooks, the team would have less talent in the pipeline, would have lost Battier for nothing, and likely would have been forced to overpay to retain the restricted Brooks [the point guard was expected to command at least $8million annually; the comparably productive Dragic is on the books for only $2million next season] or lost him outright as well.

That’s smart management and the Rockets’ future is brighter because of it.

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Rockets Retro: the high point of the last 15 years

Dating back to the seven minute mark of game 6 of the ’97 West Finals, the above game marked the absolute high point of the last fifteen years for the Houston Rockets franchise.  Up 2-0 going home, it was not simply that Houston seemed to face a sure path to the Finals.  It was that the team had two 25 year old superstars in their prime and seemed destined to dominate the next decade in the West…

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Q&A with ESPN.com’s Zach Harper

Zach Harper is the host of ESPN.com’s Daily Dime Live and a contributor to numerous TrueHoop Network blogs.  He is also a Timberwolves fan.

Rahat: To begin, was there any one thing, in your mind, that characterized Kevin McHale’s coaching stints with the Wolves?

Zach: One thing that characterized McHale’s coaching stint with the Wolves is failure. It’s not that he was bad as a coach; it’s just that he decided to step in to take the responsibility of having a bad team.  When he first took over the coaching position, he pulled a team from being a game under .500 and made them a winner for the season. He got guys to be competitive. In the second stint, he made a really awful team competitive, despite Randy Foye being the second best player on the team. So while I’d like to say that McHale’s stint was characterized by making teams competitive, I think it’s too mired in the failure before it to ignore that aspect.

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On Jonny Flynn

Thanks to an emailer for passing this on.  The following from an ESPN interview with Minnesota Timberwolves general manager David Kahn, via Clutchfans.net:

Once we took Rubio, we knew for a fact that unless he was taken in the top two picks that year that he couldn’t come for at least a year, maybe two because of the buyout. So we knew we had no point guard on the roster, and if you recall in that free agent class, we had as the number one point guard, Ramon Sessions. And I was very worried that Ramon was going to cost a lot of money, because several teams were sniffing around Ramon already. Also, we didn’t have any tradable assets. Al Jefferson was coming off an ACL, Corey Brewer was coming off an ACL, Kevin (Love) I didn’t want to trade — he was just coming off his first year. We had a very, very thin team. So I just felt very strongly that night that we had to come out of the first round with a point guard. We loved Jonny Flynn. And I loved Jonny Flynn, I want to be very clear about that. And it’s my pick, I own it, I’m accountable for it. Our staff loved Jonny Flynn. We had him over Rubio on the board. I especially liked his leadership capabilities. Jonny has a lot of that — it’s like pouring out of him. But one of those things I think we suppressed that first year were those very same leadership capabilities, because we made him play a style of play that he wasn’t conducive to him, and it made him feel very insecure about who he was as a player.

I don’t know what to make of Flynn.  (I do know what to make of the Rockets’ stockpiling of former lottery pick failures.) ESPN reports had the team shopping him almost immediately after the acquisition.  But Houston had attempted to acquire the point guard even last season. Does Morey see hidden value here or not?

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