Will the Rockets retain Delfino?

Clutchfans’ David Weiner today released his ‘Houston Rockets Salary Cap Update’, a bi-annual state-of-finances report on the Houston Rockets.

Among the interesting nuggets was this:

Deciding which player(s) to take in the 2013 NBA Draft will not be the only key decision the Rockets have to make this June. As mentioned above, they have until June 30 to waive Delfino before his $3 million salary for next season becomes fully guaranteed.

The non-guaranteed nature of Delfino’s salary makes him an attractive trade asset on draft day for teams looking to dump salary. The acquiring team could immediately waive Delfino and avoid paying him anything, making him sort of like a “super expiring” contract. However, given the Rockets’ desire to maximize cap room, it would take a fairly significant offer for Houston to pull the trigger on a salary dump trade at this point.

First, that June 30th date is some of that creative financing Houston has become famous for in the Morey years.  Through partial guarantees and mindful maneuvering of critical dates, the Rockets have often created assets where they didn’t exist.

With that out of the way, onto business.  I think you can pretty safely rule out a draft day trade of Delfino.  It’s unlikely that the Dwight Howard situation will have already been resolved–if last summer was any indication–so its highly doubtful that the Rockets will want any incoming salary.

Will they re-sign him?  The safe bet there is ‘no.’  In the Dawson era, the team became crippled by foolish decisions in these types of circumstances, overvaluing its own players when cheaper replacements were readily available.  Moochie Norris anyone?  If Dawson were still at the helm, you could almost put money on a 3 year, $15million Delfino extension.

Delfino’s been instrumental for Houston this year – that’s undebatable.  But tying up long term cash in his services just doesn’t make sense.  If the team fails to get either Howard or Smith, you can pretty much guarantee Delfino is gone.  Re-signing him would then hamper their ability to be a player the next summer.  If they do get Howard, maybe Daryl Morey would consider exceeding the cap for Carlos’ retention – even that seems to be a stretch, but I could see it.

(This is all assuming that Delfino would not agree to sign another one year deal.  The way he’s playing, you can bet some GM will offer him a multi-year contract using part of their MLE.)

It’s tough, but that’s just how it goes to keep flexibility.  You have to try to duplicate production in cheaper ways and save money for the inimitable value (see: Harden, James).  And most of all, you can’t fall in love with your own guys.  It’s a cruel world, but so goes financial responsibility.  If you don’t agree, ask Carrol Dawson how the Francis years worked out.

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About the author: Rahat Huq is a lawyer in real life and the founder and editor-in-chief of Red94.net.

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