Here’s my interview (10 minute podcast) from Friday afternoon with ESPN Radio’s The Blitz where I explained where things stand with respect to the Houston Rockets’ pursuit of Dwight Howard. Not much has changed since that point except that the Rockets altered the offer sheet given to Jeremy Lin, removing the fourth year on the contract and further stuffing year three with salary. The New Yorkers are reportedly upset by the maneuver but are still expected to match.
As I explained on The Blitz, if we are to see movement on the Howard front, it might not come until later next week when the situations with Lin and Omer Asik are resolved. Until it is known whether those players’ respective teams intend to match the Rockets’ offer, the Rockets and Magic in turn cannot know how many of the toxic Magic contracts Houston has the ability to absorb.
An ESPN report from early Friday morning created quite a stir as it was interpreted that Houston not only would be taking on multiple poisonous contracts but also giving up close to every asset within the organization. In reality, it seems the report was speculating upon what the Rockets had the ability to do rather than what was in the works. I still maintain, given the circumstances, that barring a Magic change of heart, Houston is in the driver’s seat holding no intent to acquiesce to extreme demands. If we see a deal, it will be closer to a happy medium with perhaps one or two bad contracts coming back and just one or two rookies being jettisoned. An all and all would not occur. A report by David Aldridge yesterday seemed to confirm this theory.
The Rockets at this point, for better or worse, are committed at all costs to acquire Howard. They feel that were he to be brought into the organization, he could be swayed to commit and serve as their cornerstone. While risky, it’s a move I applaud. As things currently stand, the opportunity cost is a notch below mediocrity and with a new TV deal on the horizon, the organization needs to make a splash for renewed relevance. Consider: even a 25% chance at retaining a player of Howard’s caliber gives the team a better chance at contention than the status quo. While I would applaud a youth movement as a fallback, even through years of tanking there’s no guarantee of ever nabbing someone of the level of sheer dominance of Howard. Coupled with the extra money they can offer (5 years at 7.5% raises), this decision analysis is undoubtedly leading the ‘at-all-costs’ push for the All-Star center. While many on the outside seem puzzled by the risk, to Morey, the numbers just make sense: a modest chance at keeping Howard once acquired is superior to the alternate scenarios that could manifest.
A FoxSports report mentioned former legend Hakeem Olajuwon would be requested to play a role in swaying Howard’s mind, a revelation which probably comes as little surprise. One would think this could hold some promise. Still, it’s the money which would be the biggest talking point.
Finally, a note on the team’s future: In his summer league debut, rookie forward Donatas Motiejunas dropped in 25 points on 11-13 shooting, scoring in an assortment of ways, including a nice ‘dream shake’ hook. It’s easy to see why the team has been so high on the forward for the past year. He slid in last year’s draft due to concerns over his rebounding and toughness but quickly worked to correct those flaws, finishing second in his league abroad on the boards; he’s also packed on a considerable amount of muscle. With his sweet shooting touch, and veteran forward Luis Scola gone via the amnesty clause, the Rockets probably envision an inside-outside 1-2 punch of Howard with Motie flanking the paint for the next five years. The skillsets would seem perfectly complementary.
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