Reacting to the lottery

The lottery is such a funny exercise. The fate of a franchise that’s normally attune to watching its business decisions play out among the world’s greatest athletes on a basketball court, gets decided by ping pong balls popping in a secluded room in the Tri-State area.

More often than not, mysteriousness like this can give berth to controversy, and last night’s events are no different. I understand why people cry conspiracy when a team that was recently purchased from the league in slightly desperate fashion is rewarded with the first overall pick, but please, let’s be serious. The draft lottery isn’t rigged, and the same people who believe it is could concoct similiar arguments had several other teams won it instead (most notably Sacramento and Brooklyn).

If the ping pong balls were drawn 100 times, there’s a good chance the Rockets still wouldn’t win, so conspiracy or no conspiracy, Houston had no shot. But you’re smart enough to know that. Here are some of my thoughts on last night’s lottery, and how what transpired could impact the Houston Rockets as they head into their extremely interesting offseason. 

  • As you already know, the New Orleans Hornets won the lottery, and will almost certainly select Anthony Davis with their reward. What does this mean for Houston? Well, for starters, if there was any lingering doubt that Chris Kaman wouldn’t leave New Orleans, consider them squashed. One of the most “prized” unrestricted free agent big men on the market this summer is up for grabs, and the Rockets should be one of the teams interested in his services. Kaman is huge, he spreads with the floor with a decent jump shot, and he’s huge. All things Houston is interested in.
  • Another player of interest on the Hornets roster who’s likely to be on the trade market is Emeka Okafor. Unfortunately, that price tag is a bit ridiculous ($13.5 million guaranteed next season with a $14.5 million ETO the following year), but if he’s amnestied the Rockets would have to take a look. Okafor’s rim protection and rebounding ability are still very good, and at a cheaper price he’d be a wonderful addition. Okafor will be 30 by the time next season starts.
  • Everyone who had their eyes on Eric Gordon can kiss that dream goodbye. Now that the Hornets have their anchor, the strategy regarding whether or not they’ll throw money at one of the league’s finer shooting guards just got a bit clearer. Gordon will be staying put.
  • Thanks to Brooklyn’s forfeiture of their first round pick to Portland, Dwight Howard’s future has reverted back to some seriously murky depths. Except this time around, the asking price won’t be so high. Depending, of course, on who’s hired as Orlando’s general manager in the upcoming weeks, the league’s best center could be dealt before the 2012-13 season tips off. The Rockets are still one team interested in gambling on him for the year and then seeing what comes of it. Think about this…if you acquire Howard and things aren’t working out as you’d hoped, you still hold one of the sport’s greatest trade chips for next year’s trade deadline. Then you could do what the Magic could not, and set your franchise up for the long haul, like Denver or Utah. Or, you re-sign him for the foreseeable future and have one of the league’s best players on your roster. Seems like a pretty sweet situation.
  • Pretty much everything I just wrote applies to Deron Williams, too. Him re-signing with the Nets seems illogical at this point, and while Dallas remains the odds on favorite (in my opinion), the Rockets are still a possible landing spot, especially if my next point comes true.
  • Houston’s relationship with Toronto could get very interesting in the weeks ahead. Here’s what we think we know. The Raptors are very interested in Kyle Lowry, a borderline All-Star who doesn’t appear to be the happiest of campers in his current situation. Moving him is risky. Lowry is young, cheap, and still improving as a player. But a freak bacterial infection appears as if it could change the course of this team’s point guard path. As he enters free agency, Goran Dragic’s wizardry after the All-Star break makes him a player who’d be tough to part ways with, and as has been an oft-discussed topic of conversation on this site, the team will most likely choose one over the other. Now, back to the lottery. If the Rockets offer Lowry and the number 16 pick to the Raptors for the team’s number 8 pick (which they could be interested in moving), who says no? It’s a win-win situation. The Raptors can amnesty Jose Calderon, or shop his expiring contract, then build around a quality point guard to lead their young, feisty team. The Rockets receive a pretty high pick—who knows how far a possible franchise changing talent like Perry Jones III or Andre Drummond will fall?—and then still have flexibility regarding what they want to do with their other first rounder. (If you’re Morey, you might first suggest Kevin Martin for the pick, then after both sides stop laughing, you close by placing Lowry on the table.)
  •’s Jonathan Givony has his first official mock draft up, and should they keep that lottery pick, I’ve gotta say I’m a huge fan of who the Rockets are slotted to select. Even if they do nothing (which is extremely unlikely), they have a pretty good shot at improving the team for next season. Should be interesting. I’m looking forward to draft night.

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Twitter: @ShakyAnkles

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