The news yesterday broke via Twitter that Chuck Hayes was likely out.  This will be a different lockerroom next season.  Hayes was a man who many, myself included, hoped would retire with this team.  He was the type of player who, upon reflection, conjured memories of Thorpe, Elie, and other franchise icons.  True heart, grit, his style of play personifying what this Rockets team came to be about these past few years.  With the forward’s departure, this will be a new Rockets team going forward.  The Jeff Van Gundy era is now officially over, with its last holdover headed for greener (?) pastures.  Unless some monumental acquisition is made, this loss alone should sufficiently ensure a losing record next season, an outcome I all along have been hoping for, given the circumstances.

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via @Jonathan_Feigen:

Per Marc Stein, the Kings have offered forward Chuck Hayes $20million over four years.  The Rockets are not expected to extend an offer.

It’s a sad day but one that was inevitable.  While Hayes is worth every penny, with the direction in which this team is now headed, it would not have been wise to match such a price tag.

Hayes was this team’s leader and one of the most underappreciated men in our league.  This was a payday well deserved.

Unless some major move is made, this development ensures the Rockets will take a major step back.  The club suffered its worst stretch of the season last year with Hayes sidelined due to injury.

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If you’re an NBA general manager not employed by the Oklahoma City Thunder or Miami Heat, it seems that the trendiest thing you could possibly do at the moment is make every player on your roster available in a very public (and very desperate) attempt at acquiring Chris Paul, Deron Williams, or Dwight Howard. (Or, if you’re a voracious halfwit, might as well make a run at two!) Asking why a front office would employ this not so covert strategy isn’t a cool or popular question to pose, and it would probably make those within earshot lose a tiny bit of respect for you as a basketball fan/human being. These are superstars we’re talking about! And they’re available! Real life superstars!

In case you didn’t know, a superstar creates visibility for a franchise, which creates interest, which greatly increases the likelihood of increasing said organization’s monetary value. But looking at this through the lens of basketball sensibility, putting all your chips in for one player might not be the smartest team building technique. [read more...]

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There is also a small handful of teams that has informed the Hornets they are prepared to trade for Paul with no assurance that they can keep him beyond this season. That list, sources say, includes the Rockets, Boston Celtics and defending champion Dallas Mavericks.

Each of those teams would be gambling that Paul would be won over by his new surroundings and either elect to play out the final season of his current contract valued at $17.8 million in 2012-13 or opt out of his contract on July 1, 2012, and sign a new deal. Pauls 2011-12 salary is listed at $16.4 million.

via Chris Paul of New Orleans Hornets could be traded before season, sources say – ESPN.

Read the rest of the article.  There are nuggets.  Many, but far too much to be quoted.  I wrote last week of the dream scenario landing Chris Paul and Dwight Howard.  Acquiring Paul would be the first domino.

The good news from the above is that Morey indeed is willing to go all in for Paul, even without a guarantee that he stays.  The other good news is that apparently, other clubs in the race are hesitant to part with key assets without said guarantee – the Clippers are unwilling to move Gordon; the Lakers seem to be holding onto Bynum for a Howard trade.

The sources cite the Rockets, Celtics, and Mavericks as the three teams willing to go broke for Paul without an extension.  That begs the question whether Rondo is seen as more desirable than whatever Houston is offering.

I’ll preface with this: I don’t think we get it done.  We just don’t have that blue-chip prospect around which to center a deal.  I commend the effort and bravery, but like last year, I don’t think we get this done.

My thoughts: I spoke with many of you on Twitter roughly seven minutes ago about this news.  For the most part, most of you are in agreeance: go broke or go home.  To those of you seemingly against this rumored offer, I must ask: to what exactly are you holding onto?  As it stands, this team is embedded in the cruel clutches of mediocrity.  Kyle Lowry and the like are nice players and men for whom I have the utmost respect….but these aren’t game-changers.  As it stands, the Rockets are looking at perpetual 8th-seed irrelevance.  The sole truth of the NBA hardwood might just be the necessity of a superstar.

You trade for Paul and give yourself a chance.  If he leaves, so be it.  You’ve lost nothing irreplaceable.  You begin a complete rebuilding.  But you gave yourself a chance.

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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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