• My fingers are literally shaking as I type this, in fear that its contents will be obsolete prior to my hitting publish.  That usually is the case this time of year and prior to free agency.  This year, things seem even crazier, with several stars (‘Melo, Paul George, Drummond) and impact players (Wilson Chandler, Galinari, Lou Williams) reportedly in play, and the league’s most dominant big man already dealt.  And of course there is the added wrinkle that Houston is already good and probably looking to upgrade its chances for the stretch run.  I’ll add onto this as I go, as we approach the Thursday deadline, or until something significant occurs necessitating its own post.
  • Part of why it seems everyone is piling on the ridicule of Kings management (aside from the fact that they completely embarrassed themselves on Sunday) is an outrage over the shakeup they facilitated.  If you’re stupid to your own detriment, nobody cares, aside from a little bit of mockery.  But if you’re stupid and it has widespread ramifications that affect everyone, that’s when you will really hear about it.  Maybe the Davis-Cousins experiment fails.  But there’s just as great a chance, in my opinion, that it completely alters the landscape of the West.  And that absolutely should not have happened.
  • I tweeted this morning about Clint Capela, wondering whether it might be wise to sell high in a year when a seemingly unprecedented number of stars are available.  Allow me to offer a disclaimer: this does not mean that I no longer hold Capela in high regard.  What I’m saying is that while in December, I considered Capela nearly untouchable, as the season has progressed, with Capela not demonstrating an ability to play heavy minutes, I’m beginning to wonder if my analysis should be mended.  If the stamina issues which have plagued him are going to be a long-term concern, Capela’s production will not justify the dollar figure he will command.  Understand that I’m not advocating that we just trade him.  What I’m saying is that if the concern I just raised is valid, the Rockets should at least explore selling high while the rest of the league is still in the dark as to the point of concern.  And in a market like this, now would be the time, especially when Houston does not figure to have any significant amount of cap space available this summer to add a second star.
  • And the Rockets just traded for Lou Williams.
  • Update at 7:05 P.M. on 2/21 – I knew it would happen, and it did.  The Rockets made a trade in between my writing this post and hitting publish.  In acquiring Lou Williams for Corey Brewer, Houston bolsters the second best offense in the league by replacing its worst offensive player with another dangerous scoring threat.  All of those demoralizing open corner 3’s Corey Brewer routinely bricked will now go to a 39% 3-point shooter, making Houston’s second unit absolutely deadly.  Even with James Harden on the bench, Mike D’Antoni can now feature lineups with both Eric Gordon and Lou Williams, maintaining the pressure on the opposition.  But this takes Wilson Chandler out of play, which is sort of a bummer.  Additionally, of some interest is that the pick the Rockets are sending back to Los Angeles does not come with protections attached, sort of an oddity for a Daryl Morey deal.  One could argue that Houston is so far ahead in the standings that it doesn’t matter, but its still rare to see Morey concede on such a negotiating point.  I think the Lakers too did well for themselves in this trade.  The Rockets did great.

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Longtime readers of this page will recall that through the early years, I maintained a running series entitled “Discerning Morey’s Philosophy.”  I’ve updated it here and there, mainly to keep it alive, but I’m no longer guided by my initial mission.  As I’ve learned with time, there isn’t some over-arching philosophy dictating all aspects of transactional management.  And with time, Daryl’s opinions too have likely evolved.  To that extent, I’ve been wondering recently, especially in light of the Boogie Cousins fiasco, to what extent are the lessons learned from the past applied to present dealings?  Now if I asked Morey on the record, he no doubt would tell me that he weighs every situation differently on a case by case basis.  But I don’t know if the reality is different.

In the early years, before James Harden, Morey took fliers on failed prospects such as Hasheem Thabeet, Jonny Flynn, and Terrence Williams.  But the Terrence Williams situation soured so quickly that I don’t think you’ll ever see Morey spend anything of value on an unproven talent with attitude concerns.  Then of course there was Royce White, who was mentally unstable.  If they’re ever picking that high in the draft again, its a safe bet the Rockets will this time ensure the prospect is willing to get on the team plane.

And that brings us to the recent lessons learned from Dwight Howard.  Unlike the formerly mentioned players, Howard was an established superstar.  But its on the record that his presence wrecked the Rockets’ lockerroom.  Is that why Morey held off on bidding for the even more talented Boogie Cousins?  And if so, had the Dwight Howard saga not occurred, might Morey have acted differently?

The risk pendulum operates on a sliding scale, whereby the better you are, the more you have to lose.  Before James Harden, the Rockets had nothing to lose.  (That’s why they tried things like drafting Marcus Morris as a small forward, a decision I’ll defend to this day).  I would argue that they still are not at the point where they could pass up on a talent like Cousins.  I, however, am not inside that lockerroom.  I may look at the standings and see a team that would get crushed in a series with Golden State; Morey may see a team who has only come so far because all of its players get along so well.

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The Red94 Podcast: On the Boogie Cousins trade

As I said in the episode, we probably will never know how much Daryl Morey was willing to give up for Boogie Cousins.  All we know is from reports that the other offers on the table were embarrassingly low.  Did Morey even make an offer?  If he didn’t, was it out of a fear from the lessons learned from the Dwight Howard experience?  Would he have been willing to include Clint Capela and Sam Dekker in a potential deal?  It might not have mattered as reports have surfaced regarding Kings ownership’s infatuation over Buddy Hield.  I still maintain that objectively speaking, what the Rockets could have given was a better offer than what the Kings got for Cousins.  But the normal rules of objectivity and rationalism do not apply.

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