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@  kdo : (24 November 2014 - 01:19 AM) Sigh...Howard's out...
@  Mario Pena (... : (23 November 2014 - 03:58 AM) Talk about surviving on defense and Harden delivering! Rockets beat the Mavs!
@  jorgeaam : (23 November 2014 - 03:44 AM) Yes! Nice win today
@  jorgeaam : (23 November 2014 - 03:37 AM) It's quite satisfactory to see Harden get an And-One against Parsons
@  jorgeaam : (23 November 2014 - 03:13 AM) Most three-point field-goal attempts, game
49-Dallas vs. New Jersey, March 5, 1996

Houston has 44 so far
@  jorgeaam : (23 November 2014 - 03:12 AM) WOW, 75 combined 3PA so far, NBA record for Most three-point field-goal attempts, both teams, game was 69
@  jorgeaam : (23 November 2014 - 01:51 AM) We're on pace to break the 3pm in a game record, 12 already with 6 min remaining in first half
@  jorgeaam : (23 November 2014 - 01:48 AM) Insane 3 point shooting so far
@  Mario Pena (... : (23 November 2014 - 12:22 AM) Big man down, I repeat the big man is down! http://blog.chron.co...nee/#27967101=0
@  jorgeaam : (21 November 2014 - 10:07 PM) My bad, it's good to learn that, thanks for the input :D
@  Mario Pena (... : (21 November 2014 - 05:26 PM) jorgeaam, it's called self deprecation. It doesn't mean he's ok with people making jokes rather it's a sign of having a sense of humour regarding his defense and hthe hoopla surrounding it. On the court he has clearly shown he is not ok with the ridicule.
@  rocketrick : (21 November 2014 - 03:10 PM) Harden OK with people joking about his D?? Hello---did anyone bother to watch the game the otber night? I guess it's kinda like calling the kettle black at this point, WTF......
@  jorgeaam : (21 November 2014 - 01:25 AM)
@  jorgeaam : (21 November 2014 - 01:25 AM) I don't know if you guys have seen this, but it seems Harden is ok with people joking about his D
@  cointurtlemoose : (20 November 2014 - 08:09 AM) But Papa is great. What a dude. I <3 Papa. I need a t-shirt with that on it.
@  cointurtlemoose : (20 November 2014 - 08:03 AM) This was one of those times where our 'late game - small lead' tactics (or lack thereof) makes me want to explode...
@  SadLakerFan : (20 November 2014 - 05:19 AM) Rockets seemed in control for most of the game, but Lakers closed on a 12-1 run. Will wait for the analysis tomorrow.
@  Cooper : (20 November 2014 - 05:13 AM) yeah, well and jones hard to win without starters in a position we aren't particularly deep at in the first place still terrible loss.
@  jorgeaam : (20 November 2014 - 05:09 AM) are we really that dependent on Dwight? 2 out of our 3 losses when he's out
@  Cooper : (20 November 2014 - 05:07 AM) last few possessions have been beyond horrible.

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Discerning Morey's Philosophy - Part 11


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#1 Red94

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    Posted 11 November 2014 - 02:11 PM

    New post: Discerning Morey's Philosophy - Part 11
    By: Rahat Huq

    I started writing this series back five years ago when there was actually something to discern.  Now, with Morey's star having risen to uncharted heights (has there ever been a general manager more famous on the internet?), most people who care to know already know what he's trying to do and how he's trying to do it.  To that end, this series has just morphed into a chronicle of events.  When you've been doing something for five years, you kind of have no choice but to see it through.  (Think of it like staying in a marriage just for the kids.  Or something like that).  So until either Morey gets fired or leaves, or I shut down this blog, this is what we have.

    A preliminary matter

    Initially, I'd note that one mischaracterization about Morey is his contribution to the sport.  While he's widely recognized as the face of the basketball analytics movement, I'd argue that his most innovative tendency has been his manipulation of the league's collective bargaining agreement.  The Rockets, in Morey's tenure, have been in the business of creating what I'd call 'salary cap instruments', or in other words, financial tools with artificial, constructed value.  The team made waves by signing Omer Asik and Jeremy Lin to what were deemed as 'poison pill contracts', but a lot of their equally innovative maneuvers have been less heralded.  The draft pick they are owed from the New Orleans Pelicans has reverse protection in that it will only be transferred if falling between a certain range.  (Conventional pick protection had always entailed protection at the top.)  That pick is the same asset garnered in return for Kyle Lowry, and used in the James Harden trade.  Kostas Papanikolaou is earning $4.8million this year, an eye-popping figure for an unproven rookie import.  But look closer: next season, the team carries a team option on his deal, making him essentially an expiring contract, and one large enough to fit the purposes of a bigger trade.  The thinking would go, if you are going to have to spend the money anyway, it's better to overpay on short term obligations that carry liquidity.  This is not unlike Houston's practice in the past--like with Luis Scola's deal--where the last year on the deal would be non-guaranteed or partially guaranteed.

    Lastly, look closer at the four year contract Trevor Ariza signed this summer.  Already proving to be the most underrated acquisition of the offseason, the structure of the deal has gone unappreciated.  While Ariza is making $8.6million this year, that dollar figure actually declines with each successive year, closing out at $7.4million in 2018.  With a team as aggressive as Houston has been on the free agent front, each extra penny of wiggle room is critical and can mean the difference in saving a valuable young contributor.  (In example, Terrence Jones this year is making roughly the same amount as that price difference between Ariza's first and last years).

    Stay the course and stick to the plan

    As you know all too well by now, this summer, Morey swung for the fences, striking out on the aforementioned Bosh.  Had he landed the All-Star power forward, the team likely would have been considered the favorite in the league coming into the season.  What hurt about the misstep, though, was the string of moves that preceded it.  Prior to the Bosh offer, Houston traded both Omer Asik and Jeremy Lin, valuable members of their bench, to create the room necessary for a max slot.  They were seemingly so confident in their chances of signing one of the big free agents, that they enabled Chandler Parsons to enter restricted free agency, rather than retaining him for another year at a mere fraction of his cost.  (It has since come to light, from various reports and sources, that the curious Parsons debacle was in result of a deal Morey made with the devil the preceding summer: to get Dwight Howard, the team would need to let Parsons out of his contract a year earlier.  The spectacle raises interesting questions, for myself in particular, as an attorney as well, about fiduciary ethics and the grossly inefficient role of agents in sports.  If Howard wanted to come to Houston regardless, appeasement of Fegan can be seen as nothing but wasteful, especially when said appeasement necessitates future crippling of Howard's team.  If adhering to legal ethics, Fegan's duty was owed solely to his client--Howard--not to his greater body of clients.  But this is a longer discussion for another day).

    When they struck out on Bosh, the Rockets were left with nothing, their roster stripped down to the bare bones.  The team quickly moved to secure Ariza and then was faced with the decision of whether or not to retain Parsons at an exorbitant amount.  Keeping Parsons was the obvious choice in the public eye, when the alternative meant entering the next year with a shell of a roster.  But keeping Parsons meant locking the team into that group of players through the remainder of James Harden's contract.  Understandably, Morey let Parsons walk, inviting widespread ridicule over the decision.  The popular mantra "flexibility doesn't win championships" reared its head again in the print and airwaves.

    Now, while it is early, Houston looks to have a team far superior than the one it sent out last season, and it has the flexibility for a massive upgrade down the line.  This tale bears out the dictum that the best decisions are made insulated from public opinion.  Morey could have panicked, bringing back Parsons, but he felt the only thing that mattered was winning a title.  There really is no difference between a 45-win team (Houston's probably worst-case floor upon losing Parsons) and a 54-win second round flameout (Houston's probable ceiling if keeping Parsons).

    To his credit, none of this could have occurred without the full support of Les Alexander.  Most general managers are operating within the restrictions of ownership, needing to keep an eye towards ticket sales and the bottom line.  Had Alexander not bought in to the long-term vision of his head man, Morey might have had to bring back Parsons, just to maintain goodwill with the fanbase and ensure a playoff berth.  Instead, the Rockets have been allowed to bide their time and keep the window open for the final upgrade.  Morey still has the chips for that last final song, and through some shrewd moves, his team hasn't missed a beat in the wake of a failure.


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    #2 NorEastern

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      Posted 11 November 2014 - 03:34 PM

      Morey's contract offers make a great case study. Asynchronous events such as the surprise Harden trade are impossible to plan for. A teams roster can be an ever shifting landscape, which requires bi-annual adjustments. And of course Morey is a gambler who also deploys risk management effectively. I must admit to being completely taken by surprise by the performance of this seasons roster.

       

      So many things had to come together to field such an effective team. Dedication to defense, Harden's drive and kick, Ariza more than filling the hole left by Parson's departure, the solidified point guard position, the three point shooting. Perhaps Morey is a much better "people" person than we give him credit for. The "best bro" attitude that dominated last season seemed so effective at the time. But in retrospect it may have kept the team from developing a business first attitude. Perhaps Parsons was gone all along, to only be resigned if the Rockets landed Bosh, and if that signing did not happen to be replaced by a more than adequate defensive SF.

       

      In retrospect it all makes sense. Improve the defense at all cost. Sign an excellent three point shooting SF. Reduce cost at the PG position. Develop the young players. Trust in your talent evaluation. And your coaching staff. But I certainly did not see it coming.


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      #3 thejohnnygold

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      Posted 11 November 2014 - 03:35 PM

      Good stuff.  I still cringe at the failure perception surrounding this Summer's events.  As more and more comes to light this Summer was a resounding success--aside from not getting Bosh (who wasn't even our #1 target--how quickly the Melo pursuit is forgotten).

       

      We know the score.  Asik, Lin, and Parsons out.

       

      As has been noted, Parsons' deal was done a year ago and was unrelated to the Bosh scenario.  Barring a Bosh signing, Parsons was gone after signing that contract.  The story gets told like the adage, "a fool and his money are soon parted", but that is as far from the truth as possible.  It seems the more appropriate adage is, "there is one born every minute", and it's not Morey's badge to wear.

       

      Snagging Ariza has been a boon and, accident or not, this move has been Battier-like for Houston giving us a vet with a perfect skill set and attitude to help lead the team.  Remember that stud SF who was a budding offensive star we gave up for Battier?  Rudy Gay.  It was the right move then and it is the right move now.

       

      Lin.  I don't have much to say here.  What could we have gotten in return (if we weren't making room for Bosh) that we would have wanted?  We had to essentially palm a $100 bill to the Lakers just to get the deal done (in the form of a first round pick).  All in all, Morey saved Les $30M and, once the dust settles, moved up in the draft at the same time!  (well, if we account for Terry, Papa, Ariza, and Dorsey plus the money from not signing Parsons, we saved $25M overall and snagged two bonus 2nd round picks)...Yet, he is a failure.... :unsure:

       

      In the meantime, he got the epitome of variance off the team along with the wrath of 10,000,000+ "basketball" fans.  We are good now--we don't need as much variance--we need consistency.

       

      Asik is the only player I feel we squandered in any way.  The draft pick is good; however, if we had not been making the move for cap space what could we have netted in an Asik trade?  That is too big to guess at--depending on what we added with him--quite a lot.  New Orleans played the role of Houston, snagging a bargain on the open market by being in the right place at the right time.

       

      It seems to be forgotten by many that Asik was headed out no matter what.  Many seem to think that he was only traded because we were clearing the room for Bosh.  I can't fathom how they think that given his loud complaints about his situation here and not wanting to ride the pine.  Morey had to get him out of here one way or the other--he simply traded him for what he wanted at the time--cap room--and anyone else would have done the same given the situation.

       

      I agree that Bosh would have been great for us...on paper.  However, hearing his statements about returning to being a bigger feature on the team and seeing his performance thus far I think maybe he had had enough of playing Aquaman to James and Wade's Batman and Superman.

       

      Much like gifted children will eventually become disruptive and flounder if not properly challenged in school, I think Bosh was teetering close to that edge.  He's too good and too skilled to be asked to stand in the corner and "wait until we need you".  His role here would have been similar and I think he would have become unhappy knowing that for the next 4 years that would be his job.  Yes, I'm speculating, but I think there is some basic human nature at play here.

       

      I think this often gets mislabeled as "ego" (which it is, but not in the negative, you're-a-selfish-jerk-sort-of-way).  Without delving into Spirituality and Psychology, I think it's simply a matter of being human.  He made the choice that pleased him....and $30M, a happy family, a beautiful city, and silencing the critcs certainly didn't hurt either.   :rolleyes:

       

      Coming back full circle, I guess I just like adding an alternate narrative (the current buzzword) for the Summer.  We cleaned house.  We luckily avoided a potentially un-fulfilling marriage and are sitting here with a focused, young, hungry team and a GM with a full mag and one in the chamber just waiting for the right time to pull the trigger.


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      #4 Red94

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        Posted 11 November 2014 - 09:09 PM

        Gay-Battier, Parsons-Ariza is a great comparison.  


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        #5 SadLakerFan

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          Posted 12 November 2014 - 03:47 AM

          If that's true about Dwight's deal, I think it brings into question whether Fegan was really acting in the best interest of his client in negotiating Dwight's deal. Would he be more inclined to recommend rejection of the Lakers' offer if he knows that he can get a commitment to release CP from his deal from Houston? Of course. Perhaps sports agents aren't burdened with statutory fiduciary duties, but I think it violates basic agency principles. I should ask Bob Sugar.
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          #6 thejohnnygold

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          Posted 12 November 2014 - 05:16 AM

          If that's true about Dwight's deal, I think it brings into question whether Fegan was really acting in the best interest of his client in negotiating Dwight's deal. Would he be more inclined to recommend rejection of the Lakers' offer if he knows that he can get a commitment to release CP from his deal from Houston? Of course. Perhaps sports agents aren't burdened with statutory fiduciary duties, but I think it violates basic agency principles. I should ask Bob Sugar.

           

          I think this is an interesting topic and if enough people chime in we can make a thread for it.

           

          The more I think about it, the more the reality that there was a deal makes sense.  We should still be saying, "allegedly", a la Jim Rome, but if we just put a giant hypothetical over the whole conversation we should be fine.  ;)

           

          I am under the presumption there are things--lots of things--that we are not privy to when it comes to sports agents and athletes.  One thing that strikes me is the idea of referrals, finders fees and kickbacks.  I think it would be foolish to think these don't exist and I suspect that Dwight may have received a little something in this transaction.  Since we're speculating, doesn't this all start to add up?

           

          Remember when Howard let Chandler borrow his brand new Ferrari for a while?  What if...just what if that was the Ferrari he bought with the kickback (finder's fee, whatever) for Parsons signing with Fegan, and helping grease the wheels for the early opt-out and so Howard, being the nice guy that he is, let Chandler cruise around for a bit in the car he, essentially, paid for?  :o  :o  :o  :o   (Yes, I am wearing my tin foil hat right now).

           

          Surely, at that time Fegan wasn't misleading anybody as everyone involved, including Morey, thought Parsons was staying in Houston.  I don't think many people thought he'd get $15M and certainly nobody saw that contract structure coming.  I think everyone truly believed this would all work out perfectly.  Obviously, it didn't go as they might have planned, but I know one person who doesn't care--Fegan.

           

          Fegan came out like Teflon on this.  None of it was his fault, he broke no laws, and both his clients are stinking rich.

           

          Thinking about the cut-throat business of sports agency and representation it would take a lot to convince me there is not a lot of money moving back and forth.  You see it more and more.  Player X with Agent X suddenly starts bringing their buddies into the fold one by one.  It becomes a pyramid scheme for everyone.  As long as the agents show proper "appreciation" why wouldn't guys do this?  What a way to supplement your income while increasing your bargaining power over the mighty NBA.

           

          This should come as no surprise.  It has been happening in the collegiate ranks for quite some time.  One blue chip, 5-star guy will make his commitment to any school contingent on 1 of his buddies getting a scholarship offer as well.

           

          As far as Fegan not acting in the best interest of his client--I think he did.  Fegan can't be held responsible for winning/losing or anything associated with that.  That is out of his control entirely and there is no way to prove one way or another what could have been.  He is responsible for making his client happy primarily through maximizing his bank account--which he did.

           

           

          I do think Dwight is better off in Houston by virtue of the lack of state income tax, getting out of his deal a year earlier, playing for a contender with national exposure, the potential to win more playoff games (more money), plus the kickback (agents get between 4-10% of a player's salary...Fegan is likely near the top of that so we will conservatively guess he got $3.5M out of Parsons' deal with a max of $4.5M....would it surprise anyone if he threw Dwight $500,000 for that?  He'll make that back in the extra year of salary Parsons earned on the contract plus the extra business in general.  Again--all speculation here, but it is interesting...)

           

          tumblr_m220azBrzI1rq4no1o3_250.gif


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          #7 Willk

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            Posted 12 November 2014 - 05:24 AM

            Good stuff.  I still cringe at the failure perception surrounding this Summer's events.  As more and more comes to light this Summer was a resounding success--aside from not getting Bosh (who wasn't even our #1 target--how quickly the Melo pursuit is forgotten).

             

            We know the score.  Asik, Lin, and Parsons out.

             

            As has been noted, Parsons' deal was done a year ago and was unrelated to the Bosh scenario.  Barring a Bosh signing, Parsons was gone after signing that contract.  The story gets told like the adage, "a fool and his money are soon parted", but that is as far from the truth as possible.  It seems the more appropriate adage is, "there is one born every minute", and it's not Morey's badge to wear.

             

            Snagging Ariza has been a boon and, accident or not, this move has been Battier-like for Houston giving us a vet with a perfect skill set and attitude to help lead the team.  Remember that stud SF who was a budding offensive star we gave up for Battier?  Rudy Gay.  It was the right move then and it is the right move now.

             

            Lin.  I don't have much to say here.  What could we have gotten in return (if we weren't making room for Bosh) that we would have wanted?  We had to essentially palm a $100 bill to the Lakers just to get the deal done (in the form of a first round pick).  All in all, Morey saved Les $30M and, once the dust settles, moved up in the draft at the same time!  (well, if we account for Terry, Papa, Ariza, and Dorsey plus the money from not signing Parsons, we saved $25M overall and snagged two bonus 2nd round picks)...Yet, he is a failure.... :unsure:

             

            In the meantime, he got the epitome of variance off the team along with the wrath of 10,000,000+ "basketball" fans.  We are good now--we don't need as much variance--we need consistency.

             

            Asik is the only player I feel we squandered in any way.  The draft pick is good; however, if we had not been making the move for cap space what could we have netted in an Asik trade?  That is too big to guess at--depending on what we added with him--quite a lot.  New Orleans played the role of Houston, snagging a bargain on the open market by being in the right place at the right time.

             

            It seems to be forgotten by many that Asik was headed out no matter what.  Many seem to think that he was only traded because we were clearing the room for Bosh.  I can't fathom how they think that given his loud complaints about his situation here and not wanting to ride the pine.  Morey had to get him out of here one way or the other--he simply traded him for what he wanted at the time--cap room--and anyone else would have done the same given the situation.

             

            I agree that Bosh would have been great for us...on paper.  However, hearing his statements about returning to being a bigger feature on the team and seeing his performance thus far I think maybe he had had enough of playing Aquaman to James and Wade's Batman and Superman.

             

            Much like gifted children will eventually become disruptive and flounder if not properly challenged in school, I think Bosh was teetering close to that edge.  He's too good and too skilled to be asked to stand in the corner and "wait until we need you".  His role here would have been similar and I think he would have become unhappy knowing that for the next 4 years that would be his job.  Yes, I'm speculating, but I think there is some basic human nature at play here.

             

            I think this often gets mislabeled as "ego" (which it is, but not in the negative, you're-a-selfish-jerk-sort-of-way).  Without delving into Spirituality and Psychology, I think it's simply a matter of being human.  He made the choice that pleased him....and $30M, a happy family, a beautiful city, and silencing the critcs certainly didn't hurt either.   :rolleyes:

             

            Coming back full circle, I guess I just like adding an alternate narrative (the current buzzword) for the Summer.  We cleaned house.  We luckily avoided a potentially un-fulfilling marriage and are sitting here with a focused, young, hungry team and a GM with a full mag and one in the chamber just waiting for the right time to pull the trigger.

            JG - I agree that the media's perception is way off about this past summer's events. I am guessing that what happened is what Morey realistically expected to happen.

            There were reports that during Melo's first visit of the summer, that the Bulls felt that there was no way he was leaving New York. Morey put on a good show but it was not realistic that Melo was going to be a Rocket.

            Nobody expected Bosh to be available prior to the summer. I doubt Morey had any plans to pursue him, but had to once he became available. Bosh showed he would not have been happy in a supporting role by re-signing with the Heat.

            Asik was always leaving as you stated. He will be missed. If he could have been content in his role, the Rockets defense would possibly be the best in the NBA.

            As far as Lin is concerned he had absolutely no trade value. He will not be missed. Basketball-reference.com has him ranked last in Defensive Win Shares and bottom five in Def Rating. Lin is also top 6 in TO%. Canaan has been an upgrade.

            I do not know why most of the media cannot see that the Rockets focus this summer was to get better defensively and to get better shooters. Maybe that will change in the next couple of months if the Rockets are still a top 4 team in the West.


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            #8 Losthief

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            Posted 12 November 2014 - 09:43 PM

            I agree with you 100% willk, this is the first real summer of the Dwight Era in Houston. Makes sense that we would turn to defense and shooting with Dwight in the middle (look at his Orlando finals team). Before that, we were built kind of like the suns, run and gun/drive and kick and shoot 3s. I think we're merely seeing Morey/McHale adjusting to his dual stars by embracing a slower pace (less variance which is good when your the better team) and better fits (especially 3 and d players (bev, ariza, et al)). 


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            LoSTHieF

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            #9 clydesmoustache

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              Posted 13 November 2014 - 12:07 PM

              So is it too soon to say that Morey won the trade with Thomas Robinson for Big Papa aka Encino Man!
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              #10 rocketrick

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                Posted 13 November 2014 - 12:34 PM

                It's unfortunate that neither Carmelo nor Bosh chose Houston to win certain NBA Titles and Rings. Still, I like our chances going forward. Maybe not right now, not this season, but still the Rockets are well-positioned to say the least going forward.

                 

                I believe Rahat hit a lot of right notes in his latest article.

                 

                Still, in regards to the Chandler Parsons situation, I have no doubt Morey and Leslie Alexander played that situation perfectly. After all, Chandler would have been UNRESTRICTED after this season would the Rockets have chosen to go that route, and in my mind 100% for sure he would have been gone no matter what after all that has transpired these past couple of three-four months.

                 

                So, the Rockets are actually one step ahead by letting Chandler go to Dallas and signing Trevor Ariza. Wow, probably the best signing of the summer thus far this season.

                 

                MORE IMPORTANTLY, Morey, Alexander and the Rockets have a potential GOLDEN bullet in the chamber with their precision management of the Rockets Salary Cap situation including taking into consideration the obvious substantial increase to the Salary Cap in the next 2-4 seasons. Which means the Rockets can easily afford to re-sign James Harden and Dwight Howard plus make quite substantial roster moves in addition.

                 

                Personally, I would care less if the Rockets choose to make any significant Trade moves this season (read: RONDO).

                 

                This team is so much better than last season's with Asik, Parsons and Lin.

                 

                True, one or two major injuries to our current big 3 of Harden, D12 and Ariza will put us behind the 8-ball so to speak.

                 

                Yet, these players truly have bought in to the Rockets system and that is so obvious, that I personally am willing to roll the dice this season and who knows? It is truly wide open at this moment in the NBA. I say let it play out and if in the meantime a spectacular opportunity presents itself, so much the better.

                 

                Go Rockets!!


                Edited by rocketrick, 13 November 2014 - 12:35 PM.

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                #11 Red94

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                  Posted 15 November 2014 - 01:57 PM

                  WillK: I don't think I'd go so far as to say that how things went were how Morey expected them to go.  That would be giving him far too much credit.  I think he genuinely liked his odds of landing one of the big fish and wanted to keep Parsons.  When none of that happened, he was smart to not panic and stick to his guns.


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