A few short, and very random thoughts.
I think most people would agree that if assuming a healthy Derrick Rose, Chicago is the clear cut, no-brainer choice for Carmelo Anthony. Even basketball genius* Tracy McGrady came out and said that the Windy City should be the choice. If you’re Houston, how do you emphasize the Rose angle in your pitch?
*McGrady, when it comes to personnel transactions, does not have the richest history of comprehension. I’ve recounted this tale numerous times, but I’ll never forget the time I heard him shortly after the Francis trade on Houston radio, ripping Orlando management, saying, “They never got me any help when I was there and now they go out and get Steve Francis and Cuttino Mobley?” Seriously.
Melo isn’t an idiot and is no doubt aware of the inherent risks of tying his future down to Derrick Rose’s knees. But how do you really hammer that down? ”Hey! We have two healthy superstars! You could end up like T-Mac in Orlando waiting for Grant Hill if you do this, except you’ll be 32 and not 22!” How do you hammer that down without being tacky?
Recall that last summer, shortly after the Howard coup, Houston management charged that other suitors (it later came out that it was the Mavericks) had attempted to smear the Rockets’ pitch by painting James Harden as an egotistical primadonna along the lines of Kobe. You’d think a powerpoint presentation replete with ACL recovery statistics would be viewed along those same lines. Setting moralism aside, it might not be smart business to make too many enemies. On the flip side, smart business is always smart business.
This leads me to my final, very random point: The Mavs were right in that Harden really turned out to be who they described him as. This became clear as the honeymoon waned over the course of last season and his true tendencies more and more came to light. I promised I’d push this to the dormant recesses of my brain, but the overtime sequence in one of the games in the playoffs (see? I told you I tried to forget it) that saw Houston run its offense exclusively through Dwight Howard, and its accompanying effect on Harden, was one of the most chilling sequences I can ever remember witnessing in my 20 years of following this team. Harden literally just quit. Apart from dumping the ball into Howard, he ceased doing anything else on the court. The best player on this team, in the prime of his career, had quit on this team for a critical stretch of a playoff series. For all of the slack a washed up McGrady got for a certain play against Toronto (you can look it up), that paled in comparison. It wasn’t even close.
You won’t/didn’t see much discussion of what happened, save for some random confusion on Twitter, maybe because no one really got what happened. To this day, I tell myself he was just gassed and had run out fuel. After all, lack of conditioning is excusable. Giving up on your team isn’t.