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Houston Rockets acquire Prigioni and McDaniels, Goran and Zoran to Heat for a bunch of guys; also, the ballad of Isaiah Canaan


So this of course didn’t end up playing out how everyone was hoping.  But the team added two guys who figure to strengthen their bench, Pablo Prigioni in particular.  Most of the excitement thus far has stemmed from the K.J. McDaniels acquisition, but it remains to be seen if he can crack a wing rotation which already includes the league MVP, Trevor Ariza, and Corey Brewer.  If he can, arguably the league’s best bench got even more athletic, with the potential to run second units out of the gym.  The related after-effect of these moves, or more appropriately, the non-move, is that the Josh Smith and Terrence Jones duo will remain intact for the stretch run and into the playoffs.  Upon Jones’ return, aside from James Harden, I felt that pairing was Houston’s biggest strength, with the length and speed to overwhelm opponents.  Those two players are staying together now, so the Rockets will maintain that edge.

The big story, of course, was the Rockets’ failure to acquire Goran Dragic.  Looking at the package the Heat surrendered, one would have to think that had Daryl Morey wanted, he could have had Gogi.  That New Orleans pick Houston holds alone is more valuable than the two second-rounders Miami gave up in the deal; or maybe the Suns are just that in love with Brandon Knight.  The latter is certainly possible and we probably won’t ever know.  But assuming Morey held back from playing all his cards, the turn of events offers an interesting glimpse into the philosophy of Houston’s head man.  Had it been me at the helm, as I wrote yesterday, I would have absolutely rolled the dice on a Dragic rental.  But this is Daryl f***ing Morey, man.  That’s not how he rolls.  In some ways, this incident, and the concomitant self-control (to put things positively) is perfectly microcosmic of everything for which Daryl Morey stands.  When everyone else sees panic, when everyone else senses a “moment”, he lays back, for better or worse.  Everyone thought this summer the Rockets were doomed to eternal despair if Chandler Parsons walked but Morey gave zero f***s.  And now, in the face of an acquisition that could have put his team on the cusp of championship contention, Morey just saw odds.  Odds that his team still probably wouldn’t have won, because the odds of any team winning are already so low, and odds that he’d be left with nothing in the summer after Dragic walked.  Had it been me, I would have said “screw it” and gone all in.  I want the title now.  But that’s Daryl Morey, man.  (Of course, in their quest to employ every point guard currently in the NBA, maybe the Suns just wanted Brandon Knight more than Terrence Jones and the Pelicans pick, rendering everything I just wrote in this paragraph irrelevant…but the narrative I presented was far more enlightening).


If I could ask Kevin McHale any one question, it would be “wtf exactly happened with Isaiah Canaan?”  (Actually, I’d never ask McHale that, or anything even nearing such levels of confrontation, as, the last time I was in such a situation, back in law school when I was still living in Houston and attending practices here and there, after a stretch where the team dropped a string of games due to what seemed like lackadaisical play, I asked McHale if he thought maybe the schedule was contributory to the team’s lethargic state.  He looked me squarely in the eye, with a straight face, and responded, “seriously?”)

Canaan was a player who, after an early season explosion against Golden State, in a post I can’t seem to find at the moment, I proclaimed would one day be the team’s future at starting point guard.  Canaan’s play in the ensuing contests cemented that belief in my mind, until he went down with injury, only to never be heard from ever again.  The Canaan story is absolutely perplexing.  This was a guy, who, in theory, had every tool the team needed in a backup point guard.  Three point shooting?  Check.  Shot creation?  Check.  Fearlessness to attack the rim?  Check.  I seriously thought this guy was the team’s future at the position.  Instead, his Rockets destiny apexed with being captured on camera having his genitals clasped by Dwight Howard on the Houston bench, on national television.  Seriously, what happened?  Does anyone know?

Clearly some issues took place behind the scenes and I’m sure we’ll be fed those morsels in the coming days.  But I won’t give in easily to just trusting the staff in personnel management, as we’re implored.  There are those who say, “oh, the coach knows best, stop complaining.” And sure, the staff is of course privy to far more, infinitely, of the inner workings than the public.  But I won’t just trust that the right move was made.  I quipped last year, repeatedly, back before he became GOATiejunas, that if Motiejunas were on the Spurs, he’d probably have Pau Gasol’s career trajectory.  Some pointed out to me today that no one could have predicted Motiejunas’ ascendance this season.  And that’s true.  I didn’t think he’d become GOATiejunas.  But I emphatically believed he was far better than the chance he had been afforded up to the point in time when Kevin McHale was forced into playing him by necessity.

Think about that for a moment.  Had Terrence Jones not gone down, and also Dwight Howard, D-Mo would probably be playing in Poland somewhere right now or working at a local Chuck E. Cheese.  (Okay, he’d have promptly been picked up by some other team, but that alternative doesn’t quite hold the same rhetorical power – you get the gist).  My point is this: how can I trust that the Canaan situation was handled properly when, had a force majeure not effectuated, McHale was on track to bungle the managing of the team’s current third best player?  Okay, I’m getting off my soap box, for now.  But I couldn’t let the Canaan situation just pass without mention.

Looking forward, the team is probably better, with Prigioni sure to offer a steady hand and a sure jumpshot, from the point guard position.  But we’ll see.  I don’t know that I like this team’s chances in the postseason without a second playmaker, but that’s why they play the games.  And oh…I should probably start watching college basketball; the Rockets will probably be picking like 12th this June.

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

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The Houston Rockets should roll the dice on a potential Goran Dragic rental