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.”