Paying respect where it is due

If you missed it last night, Bob Costas sums up the Houston Texans’ improbable run rather beautifully:

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Should The Rockets Use Their Amnesty Option On Luis Scola?

The new CBA’s Amnesty provision is a blessing for general managers, ironic torture for owners, an escape route for players, and really, really fun for anyone who enjoys speculating the future plans of millionaire professional athletes. It’s viewed as a get out of jail free card by most, but not every franchise is crippled by a terrible contract, so there’s no chance of a situation presenting itself where all 30 teams choose to exercise their right to axe an overpaid player on December 9th. But there’s also, reportedly, no expiration date, presenting a very interesting situation for those teams who don’t have the time right now to fill their cap space up with crummy replacements just to reach the higher minimum salary floor. In doing so, teams would be clawing themselves out of quicksand by kicking their legs and flailing their arms instead of using the new provision for what it was meant to be, an overhanging tree branch. Read More »

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From the Ninetyfourums: implications of a 66-game season

Reader Favian Pua writes:

In those 42 games, the Rockets played 30 away from the confines of the Toyota Center, going 12-18 (.400). So when the team’s 18-23 (.439) road record from the previous season is factored into the equation, the Rockets seem to be at par. However, the true litmus test is the team’s record on the second night of back-to-backs. The Rockets only went 7-14 (.333), a legitimate concern that is overlooked.

Houston relies heavily on scoring, posting 106.7 points per game, the second highest clip given 0 days rest only behind the Knicks. Take into the consideration their seventh-fastest pace and this is a team that tries to outscore their opponents to win. Much easier said than done when on the road, as the defense has to play a bigger role. I’m looking at you, Luis Scola.

Click here for the entire story.

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Can the Houston Rockets find a way to pair Chris Paul with Dwight Howard?

Here are the key bits from Adrian Wojnarowski’s Y! piece today:

Chris Paul’s agent informed New Orleans Hornets officials on Wednesday that his client will not sign a contract extension and wants to be traded to the New York Knicks, league sources told Yahoo! Sports.

Paul has reached out to Orlando Magic center Dwight Howard(notes) recently, encouraging Howard to find a way for the two to play together, sources told Yahoo! Sports.

Several teams, including Boston, Golden State and Houston have been aggressive in trying to find a way to trade for Paul.

In summary, combined with what we know from other reports: Chris Paul is all but done in New Orleans and wants to sign next summer with the New York Knicks.  The Knicks have nothing to offer in trade and can offer Paul just less than the max next summer; it’s believed that Paul would accept such an amount for the opportunity to play in New York.  Where it gets interesting is that Paul also has interest in teaming up with Dwight Howard, and according to this report, has reached out to the center in hopes of forcing something through.  (The Knicks obviously would not have the assets nor the cap room to acquire both Howard and Paul.)

This report also confirmed that Daryl Morey has been aggressive in his pursuit of Paul.  As it stands, the Houston Rockets could have just around the maximum amount available next summer to offer some lucky star player.  However, the team’s dilemma all along has been that despite having such enviable flexibility, with no resident star onboard, the city isn’t and most likely won’t be viewed as an attractive destination.  (for reference, see: last year’s Chris Bosh fiasco.)

If you’re following along, you know where this is going: trading for Chris Paul in-season would allow the Rockets to then, with that bird-in-hand, pursue Howard in the summer, securing both long-term. Yes, the dream scenario.

But, as you guessed, it’s not so simple.  The hard part would be putting together a deal for Paul but also risking the chance of him not signing an extension.  If his representatives colluded with Howard ahead of time and secured a commitment, Houston would be in the clear.  But what if Morey traded for Paul and in the meantime, the Lakers acquired Howard and Dwight decided he’d rather end his career in Hollywood?  Paul would then surely walk and we’d have nothing but Kenny Smith 90′s war stories on TNT to talk about for the next three years.  The roster would be fleeced.  (Then again, the team would be so bad that you would never again have to worry about Les Alexander standing in the way of a good old classic tank job.)

Unlike Danny Ainge, I think Morey would take the risk of Paul walking.  But does he have enough to make a deal?  A package of Kyle Lowry, Kevin Martin, Patrick Patterson, and next year’s #1 (if the team doesn’t make the playoffs) works for Paul under the rules.  If Rajon Rondo is reportedly the bar for Paul, would that be enough?  The Clippers can center any deal around guard Eric Gordon and Golden State would probably open talks offering Monta Ellis.

The more important question is whether Morey would gut this roster for the chance at the dream scenario.  Given the team’s state, if I were in his shoes, I would make that move.

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Tom Ziller fails to explain Chuck Hayes, as we all do

Photo courtesy of Kyle Lowry's Twitter

Ranking this year’s thin-but-fascinating class of free agents soon to be swallowed whole by the upcoming whirlpool of machinations and scheming that is 2011 NBA free agency, Tom Ziller came upon Houston’s own beloved, incomparable, ineffable Chuck Hayes and had this to say:

I’m not asking you to understand Chuck Hayes, because I don’t. I’m asking you to accept him. He’s among the best defenders in the league at both frontcourt positions — yes, he mostly played center at 6’6 last season — and he’s essentially replacement level on offense, ignoring the offensive glass, where he’s brilliant. His triple-double last season remains a feat of man no one can explain. God bless Chuck Hayes. Feed him a mini mid-level, someone. Just do it.

While I’m loath to neglect mentioning Hayes’ ability to defend basically any position (I’ve seen him switch off to guard players from LeBron James to Chris Paul to Rajon Rondo and handle himself remarkably well), we must all thank Ziller for spreading the good news about the walking tree stump of a human that is the Chuck Wagon, a man so impressive in his heart that he’s even led me to kind of like that idiotic nickname. While the idea of the Rockets losing Hayes this year literally breaks my heart (seriously, crumbling apart like so many crackers in the bottom of the package), if anyone deserves to finally be fairly paid for the unending workload given to him, that man is Chuck.

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