Can the Rockets afford to be picky?

As we climb in, I ask about the Rockets’ future. Harden is a piece of the puzzle, Morey says, but not the endgame. Even after signing Harden to a five-year, $80 million extension, Houston is in position to have ample cap room next summer, enough to sign another foundational player. Morey’s not picky about who it is. “We can’t afford to be,” he says.

I just read Chris Ballard’s phenomenal piece on Houston Rockets general manager Daryl Morey for the first time in its entirety today.  If you’re a diehard, it’s a must-read.

The highlighted above was a quote I found interesting, if not rather surprising.  Up to this point, I had assumed that given their current position, Rockets management felt that it could be picky.  The team, the youngest in the league, is within arm’s length of homecourt, has a solid core, and a clean financial slate.  Why wouldn’t they take their time and wait for the perfect guy?

Then again, the article is from December 3 when the Rockets sat at 6-7.  Morey, while no doubt pleased that he had gotten Harden, probably didn’t realize how good his team could be already, as currently constructed.  Perhaps his thinking has changed?

Here’s my question: You know where the team stands.  You know the realities of the NBA.  Should the Rockets be picky?

Let’s say that on a scale of 1-10, in assessing desirability, Kevin Love is a 10 and someone like say, I don’t know, Clarence Weatherspoon the year he started for the Rockets is a 0, how high must a player rank for the team to blow through its load of assets/cap in an acquisition?

Let’s say it took multiple assets to acquire DeMarcus Cousins, and let’s assume we gave him a ‘5’ just due to the risk factor, do you do it?

What about Josh Smith?  His warts are well documented.  Maybe he’s a ‘6’.  Do you blow your cap space on him this summer?  Millsap?

Understand that if you sign someone unideal this summer–Smith, Millsap–that’s pretty much it.  That’s your team.

Instead, do you just keep this current core and make small incremental improvements–such as adding the Patrick Beverley’s of the world–while the team grows internally?  That gives you a chance in 2014 to really hit a grand slam.  At the same time, if a pipedream doesn’t happen, your opportunity cost was the success you sacrificed in not pulling the trigger now for someone who isn’t as ideal.

What would you do?

About the author: Rahat Huq is a lawyer in real life and the founder and editor-in-chief of

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