The Houston Rockets front office has made it clear that finding a franchise player is still the number one goal for this team to progress.
General manager Daryl Morey of the Rockets told the Houston Chronicle, “The latter we’ll never compromise. We’re never going to reduce our chances to keep ourselves in play for a franchise player.”
Most fans would agree that the Rockets need a jolt of superstardom in their lives. After three consecutive seasons of failing to make the playoffs, the Rockets have built a reputation of mediocrity. The initial reaction from fans was positive. The Rockets are a hard working team that scrapped for big victories against championship contenders. When those moral victories occurred, Rockets fans could not have been prouder, but the end game has continuously resulted in falter.
Many can argue that this offseason may be the most important one the Rockets have faced in years. Morey isn’t one of them.
“To me, we’re not on any timetable to getting back to being a championship contender,” Morey said. “It often takes a much longer time than anybody wants to talk about.”
While this quote doesn’t exude happiness for most Rocket fans, it does speak volumes of the situation that the Rockets are in. A team that knows exactly what they need, but have been unable to acquire that need for a few years. While the brunt of the blame will go to the Rockets front office, you can also send a thank you note to NBA commissioner David Stern for scrapping a deal that would have landed Pau Gasol in Houston. While Gasol may not sound like a franchise player to many, he is one for the Rockets.
The Rockets now have two (14 and 16) important picks to deal with in this year’s NBA draft. Morey will more than likely trade the picks to move up in the draft, or package them in some sort of deal for an established franchise player.
The Rockets have thrown the bait out to teams, and two have apparently hooked on. The Sacramento Kings who own the fifth pick and the Toronto Raptors who own the eighth pick in the 2012 NBA draft have made it clear that they are willing to trade picks. The key is involving disgruntled point guard Kyle Lowry in the deal, Marc Stein of ESPN reports.
The goal is to try and acquire both first round picks, and then quickly swap them, and assets in a deal that would involve Dwight Howard, who currently wants out of Orlando. The Rockets have made it clear that renting Howard is not an issue. They don’t need an ironclad extension from Howard like majority of teams are asking for around the league.
Both the Rockets and Magic can benefit from this deal, and it’s likely the Magic would win the trade in the long run.
It’s safe to assume that Howard would exit Houston after the last year on his contract expires. It would take a significantly successful year to convince him that Houston is the place to be.
Howard’s goal is not just to make the playoffs. It involves winning multiple championships as well. The Magic, who will be rebuilding after his departure, would more than likely be interested in the multiple top eight picks the Rockets could offer them.
Both teams can benefit in different ways, with the Rockets taking all the risk by renting a player with no certainty. Even after all that execution the Rockets would face another hurdle in convincing new Magic GM Rob Hennigan to trade Howard.
Hennigan would have the option to try and convince Dwight to sign an extension one last time, and if that doesn’t work then there’s always the trade deadline drama, which cuts the Rockets rental time significantly.
The free agent market is weak for the Rockets, and the draft forces them to stockpile more rookies onto a roster that’s filled with role players.
The Rockets have multiple decisions to make as the draft approaches this Thursday, and each decision will be crucial to defining what direction the Rockets are headed in.