Rockets Trade Camby To Knicks

The Rockets have traded 38 year old veteran center Marcus Camby to the New York Knicks in a sign-and-trade, Adrian Wojnarowski reported earlier.

The Rockets will receive guard Toney Douglas (contract paid by the Knicks), Josh Harrellson, Jerome Jordan, and second-round picks in 2014-15. Camby agreed to a three year $13.2 million deal via the sign-and-trade.

Though Camby is 38 years old, the Knicks have sent a clear “win now” message by acquiring the veteran big man. The Rockets on the other hand have completely transformed the roster in search for an identity that they have not had in years.

According to John Hollinger, “Rockets now have six non-guaranteed contracts and Livingston’s partial, totaling $7 mil in confederate money to use in trades.”

Obviously the Rockets have set themselves up for movement, and have not surrendered the rebuild flag yet. Douglas is a talented combo guard, but has been criticized heavily by Knicks fans for his inconsistencies. After losing Kyle Lowry, and Goran Dragic, the Rockets will gladly keep Douglas around.

Harrelson is a 6’10 275 pound big man who has shown signs of life. He certainly doesn’t solve the problem at center for the Rockets, but that’s easier said than done.

Jordan is a 7’0 big man that has yet to see any significant time in the NBA. He has been bounced around the D-League and overseas continuously. Jordan has lots of work to put in before he sees any serious time on this roster, but he could be a nice piece down the line.

Wojnarowski recently tweeted, “The Rockets refuse to give up on the Dwight Howard derby, gathering more assets to try and entice the Orlando Magic to engage in talks.”

The Rockets have been relentlessly involved in the “Dwight Derby,” and no matter how tired people are with the never ending “Dwight-mare,” the Rockets will continue to test the Magic’s patience.

Wojnarowski also excited Rockets fans when he tweeted, “Among Bynum’s short list of potential free agent landing spots in 2013, Houston is prominent with Dallas and Cleveland, sources tell Y!”

If the possibility of Dwight is slipping, then Bynum is not a bad consolation prize. Bynum is just 24 years old and would give the Rockets another big center to build around for years to come. Bynum’s knees have been an issue, but the Rockets are very familiar with taking a risk on a big man.  Bynum is an unrestricted free agent after 2013, but time will tell what the immature center will decide.

The bottom line for general manager Daryl Morey still remains finding a foundation player.

“When you’re close and have a foundational piece, you should be willing to give up picks and overpay players, whatever it takes while you have that precious foundation to get better,” Morey told the Houston Chronicle. “When you don’t have a foundational piece to build around, you should do every move in reverse, which is how does each move get us closer to getting a star, how does it get us more cap room, how does it get us more high picks and how does it get us more players with potential.”

The Rockets have acquired a plethora of players through trades that will likely be cut. Two specific contracts that involve Omer Asik, and Jeremy Lin are still on hold until the moratoriums comes to an end. That means the team will have to clear roster spots for those two guaranteed rotational players if they are eventually acquired.

The Rockets currently sit in uncertainty. With so many players lost, and so many random ones gained, the team must sift through the cluster. One thing the front office has made clear; they aren’t finished wheeling and dealing. If a superstar deal is approachable, the Rockets will be first in line.

Rockets Finally Forced To Rebuild?

What do Chase Budinger, Samuel Dalembert, Goran Dragic, Courtney Lee, and Kyle Lowry all have in common? None of them will be wearing a Rockets jersey next season.

The Rockets have finally blown up a team that hasn’t made the playoffs in three years. The team tried to trade picks and assets multiple times for a superstar prospect, and it just never panned out. Many would say it was an unrealistic way of getting better, and that’s the truth. The Rockets unlike most teams in the league, belated the inevitable in a classy manner. The team would fight hard against better teams, and would often prevail with a feel good victory.

While those teams would head into the tunnel with a bad regular season loss, they knew they would likely be in the playoffs. For the Rockets it was a proud regular season win, with a very predictable conclusion looming.

Why did the Rockets wait this long? The track record on owner Leslie Alexander does not normally involve the word “rebuild.” Alexander has always been an ambitious owner, and at times has looked stubbornly unrealistic. While general manager Daryl Morey may have advised Alexander that this process we are using is unrealistic, Alexander is the boss, and what he says goes. Three years later the Rockets find themselves as the team that can’t get anyone interested.

The next thing to question for this team is the commitment to accept rebuilding. Is the Dwight Howard chase really finished? The Rockets may have shipped out key role players in various ways, but you can never quite accept that the journey of acquisition is over for this team.

What fans need to keep in mind is the Rockets had a core roster of role players. Not one player on the roster was untouchable, and while Morey made verbal promises on bringing them back, the climate quickly changed.

Now the Rockets are stacked with young talent, but how those players translate into the NBA level is still a mystery. One thing is certain; the Rockets are still looking for a franchise player. That is the one universal goal that will not change.

A quick rundown on how each player was moved. Chase Budinger was traded to the Minnesota Timberwolves in exchange for the No. 18 pick in the draft. The Rockets drafted Terrence Jones from Kentucky with that pick. Samuel Dalembert and the Rockets No. 14 pick was traded to the Milwaukee Bucks in exchange for the No. 12 pick, Jon Brockman, Jon Leuer, and Shaun Livingston. The Rockets drafted Jeremy Lamb, and many are hoping he is a star in the making. The Rockets also added versatile forward Royce White with the No. 16 pick.

After the draft frenzy wrapped up, free agency hit, and man did it hit! The Rockets once again attempted to scour the market for a superstar. They made a significant offer to big man Omer Asik, met with restricted guard Eric Gordon, and even brought back “Linsanity,” for a visit.

Jeremy Lin is still mulling his contract offer from the Rockets, but all credible sources report that the Knicks will match any deal given to Lin. It is also rumored Jason Kidd has decided on joining the Knicks. Kidd would certainly not be a long term solution for the team, but a great tutor for Lin to improve as a point guard.  So essentially the Rockets are trying, but will likely not acquire Lin but instead make the financial lives of the Knicks a pain. (That’s something I guess.)

While the hunt for a superstar continued, the Rockets backcourt took a massive hit. It was like a blob of Wite-Out spilled, and the backcourt that once consisted of Kyle Lowry and Goran Dragic was gone. Dragic signed a 34 million/4 year deal with the Suns, taking his talents back to where his predecessor once played. Only difference now is, Nash is with the Lakers, and Dragic will run the show. Lowry was also traded to the Toronto Raptors for forward Gary Forbes, and a protected future first round pick. The Rockets and Raptors had been chatting about a Lowry deal for weeks, but could not swing the deal in time for the Rockets to move up in the draft, and grad the Raptors No. 8 pick. Not only have the Rockets lost Dragic and Lowry, but you can add swingman Courtney Lee into the mix. The Rockets decided to pull the qualifying offer they gave to the restricted guard, and released him to the free agency stratosphere.

Whew, did you digest all of that?

Multiple questions now loom around this franchise. Are the Rockets finally rebuilding? Will veterans Kevin Martin and Luis Scola be next on the chopping block? Who will be the starting point guard? Who will be the starting center?

It’s not the offseason we all hoped for, but it may be a large dose of reality finally sinking in. While “Red Nation” has a mini panic attack, the Rockets will likely be focusing on cultivating the youth on this roster, instead of trying to cultivate something that never really existed.

Rockets Make Offer To Omer Asik

Multiple sources have confirmed the Rockets have offered a three-year, $25.1 million dollar deal to Chicago Bulls free agent center Omer Asik.

Free agents are unable to sign an offer sheet until July 11, but the Bulls will have three days to match the restricted free agents offer, or will face losing him to the Rockets.

The Rockets are currently without a center, and would be filling a desperate need by adding a defensive oriented big man. Asik’s stats don’t justify this expensive offer, but it’s all about the defense. His defensive awareness is above average, and his toughness will make a huge difference in the paint for the Rockets.

The Rockets clearly offered a financially friendly deal to the Asik camp, knowing that they needed to put pressure on the Bulls to match. The Rockets have been in pursuit of Asik for a couple of years, but when rumors surfaced the Bulls wanted guard Courtney Lee in the package, deals fizzled out.

The contract offered is what they call the “Gilbert Arenas” provision. A loophole that lets the back-end of a contract be inflated. In this case Asik would reportedly make $15 million in the last year of his contract. For more information on the “Gilbert Arenas” provision you can visit http://www.cbafaq.com/salarycap.htm#Q44 and as always Larry Coon the salary cap extraordinaire will break it down for you.

While many are skeptical with the money being offered, and Asik’s ability to make a difference, the Rockets have no bigger need than a defensive center. This is Daryl Morey being as proactive as a general manager can be in sports. The Rockets aren’t bad enough to build through the draft, and aren’t good enough to win at a high level with the current structure they have. Take those two factors into consideration, and realize the Rockets do need to spend money in order to move forward. That’s the position this team is in, and unless a major change of direction occurs, the Rockets will have to pay up, and get better through trades and free agent signings.

The Bulls will have an important decision to make, and we will know by July 14 the latest, if Omer Asik is a Chicago Bull, or a Houston Rocket.

Rockets Strike Fast In Free Agency

The NBA free agency is officially underway. Though teams can’t sign players until July 11th, verbal commitments are now allowed.

Daryl Morey, the Rockets general manager wasted no time in his quest to find a center. He immediately tweeted; “Meeting w/Omer Asik in a few minutes — tell him how much you want him to be in Houston! He will see your msg live – include #Asik2Houston.”

While many Rockets fans responded resoundingly with the #Asik2Houston hash tag, others were quick to call out the obvious, was this now considered the game changing move for the Rockets? A center that averaged 3.1 points, 5.3 rebounds, and 1 block per game last season, would somehow be the big free agent singing that would move the Rockets forward?

As the night progressed it was reported the offer would hover around the 8 million dollar mark, which many agreed was pricey for the big man. It is important to keep in mind that centers are a rare commodity in the NBA. Many mediocre centers are overpaid, but because the market demands it, teams are willing to make the investment.

Take for example DeAndre Jordan, a gifted and athletic big man who has raw talent. Jordan became a coveted free agent last season, and joined “Lob City,” which made perfect sense considering his best attribute is dunking the basketball. DeAndre’s astronomical salary ($10,532,977, $10,986,550, $11,440,123) set the bar for players like Asik, who will be expecting a substantial amount from the Rockets. Asik is a restricted free agent, so the Bulls are in control of his destiny depending on if they are interested in overpaying for the center.

The advantage the Rockets hold is that they don’t have a single center on the roster. Morey can make a strong pitch to Asik with money, and guaranteed starting playing time. The Rockets are still interested in retaining Marcus Camby’s services, but at 38 years of age, you can only ask for so much from the “Camby man”.

Asik won’t make this team a contender, but he will alleviate the desperate need at center for the Rockets.

Chris Broussard has reported that restricted free agent guard Eric Gordon will be visiting Houston on Monday. Gordon is seeking a max 4-year $58 million dollar deal sources say. Eric does have health issues, but has proven when healthy he is all-star material. It’s likely the Hornets will match any contract offered to Gordon, but the Rockets as promised will make a strong pitch towards Gordon.

Pau Gasol rumors have continued to surface, and the Rockets still seem to be associated with the Spaniard. It has been reported the team will likely keep Kevin Martin who has an expiring contract, shop Kyle Lowry who has a friendly contract, and continue to shop Luis Scola who has gotten heavy interest from the Brooklyn Nets.

With the draft over, and multiple holes in the roster, the Rockets have some major readjusting ahead. Morey has never been a GM that sits on his hands, but it’s now time to make a significant splash, and move this team forward.

Rockets Unable To Land An Established Star

The Rockets, who were wheeling and dealing players for picks, used each and every pick they acquired in the 2012 NBA Draft.

While most fans were hoping for a franchise changing trade, the Rockets instead drafted shooting guard Jeremy Lamb with the 12th pick, followed by combo forwards Royce White and Terrence Jones with the 16th and 18th picks on Thursday night.

While all three have loads of potential, the general consensus was the team remained mediocre; after rumors stirred that the Rockets were in the hunt for Dwight Howard.

For Rockets fans the team is in an interesting situation. While the NBA Draft is used to acquire some of the best college basketball players in the world, the Rockets were looking for an established superstar instead. After all three picks were announced; fans realized that the Rockets used the draft for its original purpose.

“They’re trying to do something that very few teams try to do in the NBA, which is stay pretty good, and then go from pretty good to great,” Jeff Van Gundy said. “A lot of team’s tank to get high lottery picks, Houston is trying to do it different, and I applaud them for it.”

Fans weren’t the only disappointed ones; head coach Kevin McHale acknowledged the fact that an established superstar would have been just what the team needed.

“There were a lot of things in the hopper,” McHale told the Houston Chronicle. “There were a lot of different things we were looking at. Ideally, it would have been nice to pull off a trade that would have helped the team immediately.”

Jeremy Lamb averaged 17.7 points for Connecticut, giving the Rockets a shooting guard for the future. This pick makes Kevin Martin even more expendable, as Courtney Lee is a restricted free agent and will likely be back for the Rockets. Martin has an expiring contract that should help alleviate the challenges of moving him elsewhere.

Lamb has work to do in the gym, and must focus on improving his defensive game to be successful in the NBA.

Royce White might the most intriguing player in this year’s draft. White struggles with an anxiety disorder, and has a sketchy past which he openly admits.

Though these problems exist, White knows he’s defeated them and feels like the Rockets sent him a strong signal of confidence by drafting him with the 16th pick.

“I’m just happy the Houston Rockets took me when they didn’t have to,” White admitted. “I do have a lot of red flags in my history that could have kept me out of that 16th spot or out of the first round in general. I’m glad they took that chance on me.”

The uniqueness in Royce’s game is his passing ability. For a combo forward, Royce has great court vision, and above average speed at the position. The Rockets are stockpiled with forwards, but given the time, Royce may be the one to break free from the pack.

The forward frenzy continued as the Rockets decided they could not pass up on sophomore Terrence Jones, a 6’9 forward who averaged 12.5 points, and 7 rebounds per game. Jones has a 7-2 wingspan, and brings a unique blend of athleticism and versatility to the court.

The Rockets claim they will keep all three rookies, but history has shown that the front office will not be afraid to pull the trigger if a trade that involves a star is on the table. The main thing to remember here is the Rockets drafted three versatile players who can be packaged in various combinations.

If the Rockets are still pursuing a superstar, which they are, then you can be sure these young guys will be involved.

The team is log jammed at the forward position, while the same can’t be said at center. They currently don’t have a center, and while Marcus Camby has vowed to return, he is 38 years old. Camby’s minutes will be limited, making it imperative for the team to fill a desperate need. The Rockets have now been rumored to be interested in restricted free agent Omer Asik, who they have pursued in the past.

Owner Les Alexander is not disappointed in how the night turned out, and wants to make it clear that the team is not sitting still, but instead evolving into a real contender.

“The emphasis is always to try to be as great as we can every year,” Alexander said. “It doesn’t change. It’s not like this year my thoughts are any different than any other year – zero difference.”

Alexander also came to the defense of Rockets general manager Daryl Morey, who many believe is on the hot seat.

“I think Daryl (Morey, Rockets general manager) has done a terrific job,” Alexander said. “Why would I want to change? I’m always getting that question for some reason. They expect him to get LeBron James tomorrow. That’s not happening.”

While Morey is respected by many across the city, fans are growing impatient with the small fish acquisitions, and are ready for Morey to hook a big fish. Morey has made valiant efforts ever since accepting the job as Rockets GM, but as each rumor passes, reality bites the dust.

Alexander was very pleased with the players that were acquired, but finished his comments by acknowledging the team needed a superstar to succeed.

“We still can be players in free agency, too,” Alexander said. “We’ll do something in free agency.”

Dalembert Traded To Milwaukee

According to @WojYahooNBA, the Rockets have traded Samuel Dalembert and the 14th pick to the Milwaukee Bucks for the 12th pick, Jon Brockman, Jon Leur, and Shaun Livingston.

The Rockets now own the 12th, 16th, and 18th picks in Thursday’s NBA Draft. All signs show the team will not stop at these three picks, but instead will try and move up significantly.

The Rockets have been rumored to be in hot pursuit of Dwight Howard, but names like Josh Smith, Eric Gordon, and even Pau Gasol are hovering around the teams overall goal.

The trade is smart and safe as the Rockets do not have large financial commitments, and while Brockman and Leur currently hold modest contracts, Livingston is owed $3.5 million but can be waived if needed.

The Rockets have so far been the most proactive team in its quest for adding a superstar, whether it is an established one, or one early through the draft.

As each day passes, the Rockets inch closer to a resolution. Daryl Morey is in for a sleepless night ahead, as Thursday may turn into a franchise defining night for the Rockets.

Houston Trades Budinger To Minnesota

The Rockets now own the 14th, 16th, and 18th picks in the 2012 NBA draft, after they swung a deal that sent forward Chase Budinger to the Minnesota Timberwolves, for the 18th pick.

This trade continues to fuel the quest for a franchise player in Houston. The Rockets have now made significant headlines in the Dwight Howard rental saga. Stockpiling picks will give the Rockets a strong opportunity to acquire Dwight, from an Orlando Magic team that is sure to rebuild after his departure.

Though 14, 16, and 18 won’t get the deal done, the Rockets now have more freedom to explore ways of swapping players and draft picks to get into the top 10. The Sacramento Kings seem to be the biggest buyers of Kyle Lowry, and are willing to move the 5th pick for him.

Budinger had been a solid acquisition by the Rockets on draft night, and proved to the NBA he was better than his 44th pick status he received in the 2009 NBA Draft. With the impressive play of Chandler Parsons, Buding er lost playing time, and confidence in Houston. The Timberwolves saw an opportunity to snag a solid shooter, and the Rockets saw another pick they could potentially package for the bigger goal ahead.

The Rockets would hope that if Dwight becomes a reality that a domino effect would take place, and this team would go from mediocrity to contender in one off-season. If Deron Williams is enticed by Howard in Houston, then a long term extension becomes a possibility, and the Rockets have a new dynamic duo to compete with, in a demanding division and conference.

ESPN has reported that if the Rockets fail in the Howard pursuit, then Josh Smith is a viable backup plan. Smith, who seems to be fed up in Atlanta, would be a nice acquisition for the Rockets who desperately need athleticism and defense in the paint. A change of scenery is just what Smith needs, and the Rockets have been pursuing him for a couple years now.

Before any of these assumptions can take place, the Rockets need to move pieces like Kevin Martin, Samuel Dalembert, and Kyle Lowry who all have been in the rumor mill for the past few days.

Rockets Still Willing To Rent Howard

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.

Lowry Demands A Trade If Dragic Returns

Kyle Lowry, who opened the lockout driven season as the starting point guard for the Houston Rockets, is now ready to pack his bags if things are not addressed.

Lowry, who was discussed as a potential All-Star game reserve, saw everything crumble after a dangerous bacterial infection took over his body. Lowry only played 47 games this season, while backup point guard Goran Dragic wasted no time picking up the slack.

As you can imagine the situation does not favor Lowry in the slightest. While the infection was out of his control, it essentially took him out of the loop. Lowry went from the future, to the past, after unrestricted free agent Goran Dragic outplayed Lowry during his absence.

The Rockets have made it clear that Dragic will be retained even though he is expected to be approached by multiple teams who are willing to pay him a large salary. If the Rockets do stay loyal to their words, then Dragic will be paid a salary that will demand him to be the starter.

If this sounds eerily familiar, then you’re starting to make the connection. The carousel of point guards have been rotating now for a few years. Dragic is now taking Lowry’s spot, while Lowry did the same to former guard Aaron Brooks. Lowry has clearly seen the trend catch up to him, and isn’t willing to sit on his hands and watch it play out.

“We’re both capable starters,” Lowry told the Houston Chronicle. “We both want it. It’s going to have to be a situation where they make a decision on one of us.”

Lowry continued to reiterate his dilemma, making it very clear that the assurance he needs will be met, or his services may no longer be worthy to the Rockets.

“It has nothing to do with Goran,” Lowry admitted. “I’m not happy with the way (the) coaches handled things. If management wants to do something to keep Goran, I think I’ll have to be moved.”

With that quote comes act two of this story. The act in which Lowry calls out his coach, while his coach surprisingly raises his eyebrows after the comment is relayed to him.

“If things aren’t addressed coaching-wise, I guess I have to be moved,” Lowry said.

McHale replied with what you would expect from a head coach.

“That’s very surprising,” McHale said. “I didn’t think we had too much of a problem coexisting this year. Everybody has a little beef every once in a while. I didn’t feel like (there were problems). He apparently did.”

The beef with McHale really hit the boiling point in a game against the Denver Nuggets, when Lowry and McHale shared some words. Lowry showed his anger on the court, but later downplayed the situation as the heat of the moment, took over emotions. Now Lowry is using that scenario to further emphasize his discomfort with coach McHale.

Lowry, who clearly feels insecure with his position on the team, did leave a slight window open for adjustments. But his demands are steep, and the Rockets are not leaning towards those changes.

While McHale struggled to get this team into the playoffs as the season came to a close, he also joined the team in a shortened NBA season, with virtually no training camp. The Rockets would shock most people if they let McHale go after one incomplete season.

General manager Daryl Morey remains upbeat about the situation, and doesn’t believe it needs to end in this manner.

“I think Kyle and coach McHale are both winners and both competitive guys,” Morey said. “I don’t anticipate any issues going forward.”

Lowry and Dragic are both capable starters, and splitting time for either is really not an option. Dragic has made it clear if he signs with the Rockets, he wants starting minutes. Lowry has now made it clear that he wants the same, along with another coach in the mix.

Honestly, Lowry packing his bags seems like a very realistic scenario now.

While some of us know that these two players make a great duo on the court, or when used interchangeably, we also know that both players believe they are ready to run a basketball team. Splitting time isn’t the same as running the show. Lowry may look selfish right now, but he is speaking freely. He is looking out for his own good. He sees that his progression as a point guard is stalling. The Rockets may not be in the position to kick start that stall, when they have another point guard they will be committing a large salary to.

The Rockets have some major decision to iron out, and Kyle Lowry will be right in the heart of it all.

Rockets Likely To Target Gasol This Summer

It was the “veto” that sent shockwaves of anger across the association. A blockbuster trade that would have sent Pau Gasol to the Houston Rockets was axed by Commissioner David Stern, due to “basketball reasons.”

The deal would have shipped Kevin Martin, Luis Scola, and Goran Dragic to the Hornets, and in return the Rockets would have received Gasol from the Los Angeles Lakers. It was safe to assume that the Gasol acquisition would have snowballed into possibly acquiring coveted free agent Nene; formerly of the Denver Nuggets. The idea in the NBA now is if you have one star, you could get another.

The Rockets over the past few seasons have failed to take the first step in that theory. This trade was that first step, and while no guarantees could be made on potential acquisitions post Pau, the gates were unlocked for change. The after effects did seem to cause some discomfort as one would expect. Gasol made it clear he didn’t want to leave the Lakers, and Kevin Martin showed signs of discomfort.

As we know now, Martin was slowly removed from the Rockets rotation, and Goran Dragic exploded on the scene as a bona fide starter.

The Rockets failed to make the postseason for the third straight time, and now have significant issues to address. Will bringing back Dragic and restricted free agent Courtney Lee be enough? Will having two first round draft picks in the 2012 NBA Draft let this team take the next big step forward? Will the 7-foot Lithuanian Donatas Motiej?nas make a significant impact, as he joins this Rockets team next season?

While the Rockets have some positives, they still remain starless. Recent reports showed that the Rockets were the last team standing in the Dwight Howard rental sweepstakes. If Dwight had decided to officially move on from the Orlando Magic, the Rockets were ready to scoop him up without a commitment.

Instead, the Rockets continued to fight without a closer, which eventually led to another season ending dud.

The Lakers, who are now on summer vacation courtesy of the Oklahoma City Thuder, find themselves in a position for change as well. The biggest name on that list of change is Pau Gasol. If the Lakers were slightly reluctant to trade Gasol before, you can bet that reluctance has diminished. Gasol is set to make $19,000,000 next season at the age of 31 and is coming of another solid year in which he averaged 17.4 points, 10.4 rebounds, and 1.4 blocks per game, all while shooting 50%. Gasol’s playoff numbers took a significant hit. With only 12.5 points per game, and 9.50 rebounds per game, Gasol was back on the hot seat, being criticized for his “softness” as he is so often.

ESPN’s Chris Broussard continues to report that the Rockets do seem like a logical option for the Lakers to approach, and that the Rockets remain interested in Gasol.

“Houston is looking for a star. They love Pau Gasol,” Broussard said. “Would the Lakers be interested in some type of deal involving maybe Luis Scola, and Kyle Lowry? Lowry is expendable now that Goran Dragic has established himself down in Houston.”

Broussard has reported the Rockets interest in Gasol for months now, and being that the Rockets haven’t changed much since the original trade; it is fair to assume Gasol still may be a Rocket before the season begins. All this depends on whether unrestricted free agent Goran Dragic can be resigned by the Rockets, who are sitting on plenty of cap space. Perhaps with a Lowry trade in place, Dragic is more likely to return to Houston, knowing he will be running the show at the point.

Assuming the trade does involve Scola, and Lowry, the Rockets will need to solidify the backcourt, making Courtney Lee an essential piece to the puzzle. The front court will also need to be addressed. The 38 year old Marcus Camby will most likely be back at a hometown discount, and it’s still a mystery if the Rockets will pick up the $6,700,000 team option on Samuel Dalembert. Kentucky forward Patrick Patterson had a rough year, and the offseason will be a crucial barometer on how the Rockets move forward with him.

Scola, who is a huge fan favorite in Houston, is under contract through the 2014/15 season. The Rockets nabbed Scola from the San Antonio Spurs, and haven’t looked back since. Scola has consistently played hard, but is showing signs of decline, specifically on the defensive end.

Even with the acquisition of Gasol, the Rockets would need more. But would it be a step in the right direction? Does Gasol really carry the interest for a domino effect to take place? Do the Rockets even have the luxury to pass up on a proven big man at this point and time?

For now the rumor mill continues to churn. The days leading up to the draft will be very interesting for this Houston Rockets team, and their general manager Daryl Morey. As the saying goes here in Houston, “trust in Morey.”

Rockets Committed To Re-Signing Dragic

Houston Rockets General Manager, Daryl Morey, wasted no time showing his commitment to Goran Dragic. As many athletes and GM’s do these days, Morey took to Twitter for his new #HouLovesGogi campaign.

Morey tweeted the commitment soon after the Rockets fumbled their way out of the playoffs, losing seven of their last ten games in the regular season.

Dragic who is an unrestricted free agent, will see the league react financially favorable considering the stellar job he did for the Rockets after starter Kyle Lowry went down with a mysterious bacterial infection. The timing for Dragic to shine could not have been better. With Lowry playing at an All-Star level, the Rockets misfortunes proved to be deadly. Having a highly capable backup at the helm kept the Rockets playoff chances alive. Dragic played 66 games, and was featured as a starter for 28 of them.

Dragic posted career highs in virtually every category, opening the eyes of teams all across the association. Dragic finished the season averaging 11.7 points per game, 5.3 assists, and a +13.21 efficiency rating.

The Portland Trail Blazers in specific have been reported to be highly interested in the Slovenian, after the “fire sale,” they produced during the trade deadline. Like the Rockets, the Blazers have money to spend, and can make a solid sales pitch to Dragic, given the playing time and money he will receive.

The situation is eerily similar to the takeover Kyle Lowry had on former Rockets guard Aaron Brooks. A unique cycle that has shown young guards at their best be shipped out for the next batch. The Rockets have found themselves in that type of cycle for the last few years, and while it has kept them highly respectable, and competitive, it has resulted in postseason misses.

The Rockets are in good shape financially, boasting around $19 million dollars in cap space. They have shown no signs of shying away from their responsibilities of retaining Goran Dragic, and swingman Courtney Lee. Signing Dragic to a starting level contract would more than likely move Kyle Lowry to the bench, or maybe a future trade scenario. Dragic has made it clear that he wants to be a starter in this league and for the Rockets that means they have a decision to make on Kyle Lowry. Lowry is on the books for a bargain price ($5.75 million) and teams would love his production in any acquisition that is discussed.

While most teams including the Rockets will be chasing free agent Deron Williams, the assumption is Williams will set himself up for a future pairing with Dwight Howard, eliminating the Rockets chances in those plans.

In the grand scheme of things, retaining quality players, and drafting strong, may be the best option that currently sits on the table. The Rockets commitment to stay competitive, will force their hand in keeping Goran Dragic, no matter what the cost is.