By: Rahat Huq
If Boston wants a big haul, it has to hope a potential Rondo suitor feels some unexpected desperation early in the season. Houston is under pressure to win now, and if it starts slowly, Daryl Morey might swallow hard and meet Boston in the middle. Rondo and James Harden make for an awkward fit, but talent tends to work itself out, and the Rockets are confident they can re-sign stars once they get them.
The above cited tidbit from Zach Lowe's latest at Grantland leads to a question to which I had not previously given much thought. For Houston, this season, is the opportunity cost of waiting for "the best deal" justified? If we assume that this roster, as currently constructed, cannot win a title, and that an upgrade somewhere is necessary, a premise with which I think most observers are in agreement, then when should Daryl Morey strike? History tells us that Morey never settles for what he considers a bad deal. But the changing circumstances inherent to this season are that, maybe for the first time, time is actually of the essence. In the past, Houston was content to wait patiently, letting assets accrue, keeping an eye towards the offseason. But now, the Rockets face uncharted waters, with Dwight Howard's prime (and impending free agency) on the clock. Simply put, the Rockets have to make progress this season, and simply put, they took a step back this summer.
We don't know what the price is for Rajon Rondo. But what if you could get him right now for Terrence Jones, the Pelicans pick, Nick Johnson, and another future first? Would you move on that deal now if I told you you could have him at the deadline for just Jones and the Pelicans pick? The dilemma here is assessing what those extra months of Rondo do for your ultimate end. Does getting him in December (after he recovers) as opposed to February develop chemistry sufficient to push you one round further? Is enough chemistry developed in that time span to even make the question legitimate? You also have a 'bird in hand' proposition at play. If you can have him now, you probably need to pull the trigger before circumstances give rise to another suitor. Who knows if Golden State was truly being sincere on its stance regarding Klay Thompson, but if they weren't, the Warriors certainly are kicking themselves for not anticipating that Cleveland package take life in the eventual Kevin Love trade. Houston might like its chances at Rondo this offseason, for free, but that route would represent yet another wasted season.
Daryl Morey finds himself in a unique situation this season where we might see him give up more in a deal than he otherwise would have in the past.