From the Ninetyfourums: Scola and “tanking”

From the Ninetyfourums, a reader, Sir Thursday, writes:

Past history has shown us that (at least under the current CBA) trades get you championships, not rebuilding projects. So my preferred strategy would be to continue to maximize our wins in the short term while waiting for the right trade to come along. Morey is a good enough GM to be be able to keep us in that state (many lesser GMs would fail, I suspect), and then when the big trade comes, it will be all the sweeter knowing that the organization has never stopped trying to put a winning team together.

The above comments were in response to my suggestion that the team ‘needed’ to trade Scola.  I do think I agree in theory with the reader’s thesis.  History is replete with examples of child ‘super-teams’ that never put it together: come to think of it, I can’t think of a single time it’s ever worked.  The Thunder are trying to break that curse.

Where I disagree though is that while stocking up on young talent by trading off veterans usually doesn’t work, you almost always have to get your ‘superstar’ through the draft.  And to get your superstar through the draft, you have to get really bad first.  So essentially, I’m starting to think that the ideal model for team-building is to trade off all of your veterans, get really bad, hit big in the lottery, and then stock up again on vets.

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Shook Ankles: One Team’s Trash Is Another’s Team’s Treasure

via Shook Ankles: One Team’s Trash Is Another’s Team’s Treasure « Shaky Ankles:

What people seem to forget when talking about/evaluating/processing basketball players, is their ability to improve in a relatively short time frame. Flynn averaged 13.5 points per game on 42 percent shooting as a 20-year-old starting point guard on the league’s most unfocused franchise. All things considered, that’s pretty good. He was then severely injured. So the result of all this? A trade? We’ve given up on the poor kid before he’s given a chance? I know this is sports, but nobody reaches their apex of ability at the age of 22.

Follow the link for the full story and a vicious highlight from the Rockets’ newest point man.

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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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