Drafting for Context

As with most things, context is important when considering the Rockets’ options in this year’s NBA Draft.  Most pundits, myself included, have suggested the team’s primary needs are at the center and small forward positions, Houston having traded Battier and the world having little confidence in Yao’s return.  This idea was reinforced last season by the fact that neither former Rocket nice guy (Yes, I’m referring to Yao as a former player. Sorry, guys, but I think it’s probably appropriate at this point.) was actually succeeded on the court by a replacement.  Budinger ably stepped into the starting role for Battier in February, but, after the way he played to start the season, I’m still not completely comfortable with Bud partying his way to that regular starting gig, especially since Courtney Lee, playing out of position, provided his only relief minutes after the All-Star break.  And, as for your replacement center, everyone who suited up for the Rockets at the five last season was playing out of position.

But here is where we have to consider context. Just because we didn’t see their obvious replacements on the court before May doesn’t mean they weren’t necessarily on the roster.  As it has been noted elsewhere, Rick Adelman’s departure was rumored to have been fueled by personnel disputes with Mr. Morey, who one can assume didn’t trade valuable assets for both Terrence Williams and Hasheem Thabeet just to see them look good in their respective suits. So depending on how much faith the geek squad has in these two lottery cast-offs, Morey and Co. could, in theory, be considering more than just centers and small forwards in this draft.

So who will the Rockets choose? Read More »

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ESPN: Rockets eyeing No. 2 pick?

via Draft buzz: Rockets eyeing No. 2 pick? – TrueHoop Blog – ESPN:

Minnesota has four trade scenarios on its board for the No. 2 pick. As of midday Wednesday, the Timberwolves now are leaning toward Arizona’s Derrick Williams over Kentucky’s Enes Kanter of Turkey. But the Wolves are actively listening to offers for No. 2. Phoenix and Washington are two teams that aren’t involved, but Houston, which owns pick No. 14, has proposed at least 10 different options for Minnesota’s No. 2.

Would have to be Kevin Martin involved in any deal for the #2, one would think.

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More Draft Notes

  • I don’t want to say that it’s likely the team moves up because since Daryl Morey took over, smoke of this amount has always been par for the course.  The team is simply doing the diligence due and we’re hearing about it; the number of reports don’t necessarily equate to a greater likelihood of a deal – we know they’re trying as they always do.
  • I can’t speak on the prospects because the draft is unequivocally the weakest domain of my basketball knowledge gallery.
  • Morey tweeted earlier that the team felt there were atleast twenty potential contributors in this draft, up from normal years.  That still doesn’t affect my statement regarding the #23: economics is economics and if someone similar can be had in the second round, that’s a better bet.  If the Rockets select someone at #23, they really like him.
  • The Spurs are allegedly fielding calls for point guard Tony Parker, begging many painful questions regarding the relationship between public relations and business.  Is it better to hold on to mediocrity than to trade a franchise cornerstone?  Obviously not but I’d hate to be the man in charge if the decision backfired.
  • One of the more interesting rumors involves the Wolves sending both Kevin Love and the #2 pick to the Lakers for power forward Pau Gasol in an effort to team up the Spaniard with countryman Ricky Rubio.  First, were this to go down, it’s more proof that there should be some sort of insulation for general managers from the affects of marketing concerns.  I don’t think David Kahn is necessarily as dumb as his reputation describes, but he’s surely feeling the heat, needing an immediate boost in attendance.  Of greater interest is the potential effects on the Lakers.  I don’t think it’s accurate to say Love would completely replace Pau–we forget just how good the latter is because of that horrid playoff performance–but they basically almost replace Pau and add another major piece. That would then allow them to entice Orlando with a package of Odom, Bynum, and the #2 in hopes of creating a Love-Howard frontline with two to three more years of Kobe.  That’s just not fair yet part of me wants it to happen just in hopes of validating the statement that life really isn’t fair.  You see the Rockets toiling around at .500 maybe without even a single player in the top 35 in the league and the Lakers could be on the verge of bringing together three of the top 25.  The more stories such as these which come to fruition, such as last year’s Heat, lends credence to the thesis that in life, you only strike gold luck once and for the Rockets, that lifetime luck was landing a 25 year old McGrady.  For whatever reason you want to attribute the team’s failures (Carrol Dawson’s ineptitude as a general manager, injuries), it didn’t work out and now the team is stuck waiting for the next stroke of luck.  Who knows when it will come but the best general management cannot overcome that absence.

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Draft Notes

ESPN’s Chad Ford, in his latest mock draft, has big man Jonas Valanciunas falling to the Rockets due to his buyout dispute.

It’s funny because while such a stroke of good luck would be just what the doctor ordered, one can almost even now foresee the reaction from some in the local media over acquiring a prospect who can not yet come over; delayed gratification seems a bit difficult to grasp.

In any event, it is probably a worthwhile bet that the team will not remain at both 14 and 23.  As I explained last year, if the team selects at 23, they really like who they picked; the lower 20′s in the draft are financial no-man’s land.  You’ll either see Morey package the picks to move up or trade the #23 to either move down or for cash.

In other news, Yahoo touches on Josh Smith’s alleged interest in Houston as a potential destination.  If the deal were for Scola, show me where to sign, but aside from that, I’d have some slight concerns.  Overall though, it could only be a net gain to acquire a shot-blocking forward, not even taking into consideration the strides Smith has taken to tone down his chucking tendencies.

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On the NBA: Dwight Howard

Bill Simmons raised an interesting point in his podcast last week that were he Pat Riley, he would today–at the moment of the recording–trade Lebron James for Dwight Howard.  That show in general was another great example of why Simmons is such a great listen.

I think the rational choice would be to trade one of James or Wade for Howard.  Not that it would ever happen, but it would give the Heat an ‘even’ team with star power at every positional slot; the redundancy at the wings would be alleviated.  But upon reflection, the choice between Wade and James isn’t as obvious as one would think.  The initial reaction is that keeping James, and trading Wade, is the no-brainer; the former is younger and…better.  But what if we buy into the personality analysis that indicates that James just isn’t a winner?  It’s already been established that Dwyane Wade can win on the biggest stage; Lebron James crumbled.  Regardless, the issue is moot – the Heat would never trade either of their stars, if even for Howard.

Read More »

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