Much was said over the course of the Trevor Ariza saga. It was assumed that the former Laker was signed as an heir apparent, the new “go-to” option for the Rockets, despite Daryl Morey’s many statements to the contrary. Now it’s being posited, even accepted as truth, that Ariza’s exile was an admission of mistake or a straight salary dump. It’s difficult to even find a starting point to expose the flaws in this logic.
In parts 1 and 2, I explored Houston Rockets general manager Daryl Morey’s transactional history, hoping to draw conclusions from various tendencies. In part 3, in comparing rumored trades for Caron Butler and Andre Iguodala, I postulated an aversion to long-term obligations, surmising that perhaps a ‘revolving door’ model was deemed best for cost efficiency. In part 4, Executive Vice President of Basketball Operations Sam Hinkie offered assistance in understanding an innovative business model employed by the team.
Much has transpired since that last update. With opening day closing in, I plan to compose a series of informal mini-essays in both assessment of our recent dealings and in response to some prevalent assumptions which have found their way into our conventional wisdom.
Little will be made of a Houston Rockets preseason loss minus five players, including three starters, even against the lowly Cleveland Cavaliers. Similarly, losses against powerhouse offenses, those unstoppable forces, at least in the preseason, will likely be shrugged off. As sad as it seems, in Sunday’s 99-93 loss, the Rockets allowed the Cavs’ offense to appear as such, gradually giving Cleveland confidence through lackadaisical defensive effort until a 32-point burst in the 4th quarter led the suddenly offensively potent team to victory. As often as you’ll hear me say that the final score in these games couldn’t be more irrelevant, the way by which the Rockets fell on its home court felt noteworthy.
In response to my season preview, a reader, RH Rivera, writes:
i prefer RA. team is more fun to watch. Van Gundy has never won anything either. I care more about watching a fun team that plays hard and makes the postseason regularly than winning a title.
It’s a topic better suited for Scientific American than ESPN TrueHoop but one of great personal interest nonetheless: what drives our passion to view sports?
I’ve always been one to prefer the sense of ‘true contention,’ holding that three seasons of total irrelevance followed by one with serious title chances is a more desirable scenario than four seasons of mid-seeded playoff berths. But with this worldview, haven’t I reduced sports to something extrinsic to its essence, pursuant of a cynical end? Is the point of sports winning or enjoyment?
The latter scenario is probably better for business…until total apathy sets in.