Can the Houston Rockets acquire Nene?

via the Denver Post:

Nene will opt out of the final year of his contract worth nearly $12 million and, as a result, become an unrestricted free agent, a source familiar with the situation said Wednesday night.

It means Nene can sign with any team he wishes without the Nuggets getting a chance to match the offer when free agency begins after the expected NBA lockout, which likely will start Friday.

The 28-year-old averaged 14.5 points and 7.6 rebounds per game last season, shooting 62% from the field. Daryl Morey is likely salivating: Nene had the 5th highest PER among all centers in basketball and far and away the highest TS% at 66%.  If the current cap figures remain roughly the same, the Houston Rockets will have the ability to make a competitive offer though the Nuggets will have the ability to easily match; as an unrestricted free agent, the decision is ultimately Nene’s.

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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’s Zach Harper

Zach Harper is the host of’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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