One day closer

Three things happened today:

1. Timberwolves rookie sensation Ricky Rubio was lost for the season.

2. Point guard Goran Dragic had yet another stellar performance filling in for starter Kyle Lowry, scoring 21 points and dishing out 8 assists in a winning effort.

3. Kevin Martin was benched to close out yet another close fourth quarter.

What does it all mean?  First, that despite the recent struggles, the Rockets might not mail it in and sell off the farm – they’re still very much in this race.  Second, there’s a serious possibility that either one or both of the starting guards could be traded next week.

Why the speculation? Consider: we’re talking about a team that traded two starters at last year’s deadline and then, just months later in December, traded two more of the remaining three opening day starters to the Lakers [only to have the deal nixed.]  It’s not outlandish to surmise that deals will be made.

Yesterday, Roland Lazenby, author of Jerry West, The Life and Legend of a Basketball Icon, reported on Twitter that Pau Gasol had been traded.  While Lazenby did not specify where, speculation abounded that Houston was the destination. had earlier reported that the Rockets were willing to part with point guard Kyle Lowry in a deal for Gasol.  Lowry is currently in the hospital suffering from abdominal distress.

The thought of dealing Lowry for anyone short of Deron Williams, just weeks ago, was inconceivable.  But now, in light of Dragic’s production, one has to wonder: has the time come to ‘sell high’ on Lowry?  If this is the cost for a top-15 talent, perhaps the pill simply must be swallowed.

Even more interesting would be a follow-up deal for Bucks center Andrew Bogut, a player in whom the Rockets also reportedly have interest.  By trading Kevin Martin and either Sam Dalembert or some combination of the ‘09 busts, Houston could take back Bogut (and Stephen Jackson), recreating the effect of December’s desired Gasol/Nene combo.  In my opinion, Gasol/Bogut would be even more formidable.

If Dragic and Courtney Lee could both be re-signed, the team could have an opening day roster of Gasol, Parsons, Bogut, Lee, and Dragic, with Patrick Patterson, Marcus Morris, Chase Budinger, and Donatas Motiejunas off the bench.  With a point guard slot open, they’d also have the option of bringing over Sergio Llull.

When considering Bogut, I keep thinking back to the Rockets-Bucks affairs when the center’s mere presence shut off the entire lane.  A Gasol/Bogut frontline would instantly be the best in the league and give the Rockets the framework of a Memphis-style Western Conference contender.  While Bogut’s health history is a definite concern, all of his injuries have been of the freak variety, not similar to what occurred through wear and tear and anatomical stress with Yao Ming.

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