Linsanity Revisits New York

Madison Square Garden gave a rousing ovation to former Knicks guard Jeremy Lin as he returned to New York draped in a Rockets jersey. The cheers turned into boos, as Lin put on a show against his former team.

Lin finished the night with 22 points, eight assists, two steals, four rebounds, and a 109-96 Rockets win.

The first two points of the game were scored by Lin, and he never looked back.

The Rockets were coming off a bad loss in Toronto that saw Lin score a woeful seven points, in 32 minutes. It almost felt like his mind was in New York, and the Raptors game was just in his way.

Judging from his performance tonight, “Linsanity” was well prepared. In just his first 10 minutes back at “MSG,” Lin racked up eight points, and three assists, as the ovations quickly turned into boos.

By halftime Lin had 16 points, four assists, and two rebounds. That was his best first half of the season as a Houston Rocket.

For a guy who was averaging a measly 9.6 points per game, and shooting below 40% on the season, Lin proved why he could be a long term starting point guard for this young Rockets team. He proved that under a pressure filled situation, he once again could rise up and accept the challenge, as he did game after game with the Knicks last season.

Another thorn in the backside of the Rockets has been the chemistry between James Harden, and Lin. While Harden has individually found success, the two have not found a comfortable balance yet. Tonight was a huge step forward.

Lin and Harden combined for 50 points, 14 rebounds, 11 assists, and two steals. Tonight proved the potential this backcourt has, along with the quest for consistency.

“We complemented each other really well,” Lin told the media. “It is important for us to be aggressive and pick our spots.”

The win ended a seven-game road losing streak for the Rockets. It also was the first home loss of the season for the Knicks, ending what could have been an 11-0 home start, the best since the 1991-92 season.

The Rockets have swept the season series against the Knicks, and continue to hover around the .500 mark, as the playoffs remain the goal for the youngest team in the NBA.

Patrick Patterson Sidelined

Houston Rockets forward Patrick Patterson will unexpectedly be sidelined, after a MRI was performed Saturday morning.

The results were not favorable, as tests showed Patterson has a bone bruise in his right foot.

The brawny forward is averaging 13.2 points per game, along with 4.8 rebounds.  The physicality that Patterson possesses certainly doesn’t match the low rebound numbers, but his defensive significance is important to this young Rockets team.

While Patterson has yet to have a double figure rebounding game this season, he did have a strong offensive stretch in the final seven games of November.

Patterson and the Rockets coaching staff have tried to capitalize on his ability to stretch the floor this season, much like he did during his collegiate career with Kentucky. So far that experiment has been a work in progress. Patterson has already attempted 42 three pointers, and made just 14 of them.

During his absence, swing-forward Marcus Morris is expected to earn the starting nod. Morris had a strong offensive stretch in mid-November, and starting minutes may spark a similar performance.

Morris is currently a mystery for the Rockets. The goal is to maximize his potential, and the question is at what position? Is he a small forward, or a power forward?

The term “tweener” is frequently used now in basketball. While it’s a huge plus to have a versatile player, the certainty of what position the player can succeed in most, is always a battle. With Morris possibly seeing extending starting minutes, the answer may not be far.

The Rockets are also expected to recall Terrence Jones from D-League affiliate, the Rio Grande Valley Vipers, and expect him to be with the team for a matinee meeting tomorrow against the Raptors.

Patrick Patterson will go through additional tests in the coming days, no timetable for his return is set.

Kevin McHale’s Daughter Passes

Houston Rockets head coach Kevin McHale’s daughter Alexandra “Sasha” McHale passed away on Saturday at the young age of 22.

McHale has been on a leave of absence since Nov. 10. His daughter “Sasha” had been battling Lupus, a collection of autoimmune diseases, in which the human immune system becomes hyperactive and attacks normal, healthy tissues.

Rockets owner Leslie Alexander issued a statement regarding the McHale family.

“I extend my deepest condolences to Kevin and Lynn for the loss of their beautiful daughter, Sasha, on Saturday afternoon,” Rockets owner Leslie Alexander said on a statement on Sunday. ” Kevin and Lynn are loving and dedicated parents who will need our continued support throughout this very difficult time.  Our entire organization is mourning the McHale family’s loss and we ask that you keep them in your thoughts and prayers.”

The Rockets organization, and Rockets fans mourn the loss the McHale family is facing today, and will keep them in our thoughts and prayers.

Where Is Royce White?

Daryl Morey the general manager of the Houston Rockets issued a statement earlier today on Rockets player Royce White.

“Royce is not available right now, Morey said. We are committed to his long term success and we will continue to support him now and going forward.”

White was a no show on Monday night when the Rockets narrowly lost to the Miami Heat. He has also missed practices and the Rockets have neither fined, nor mentioned if White will be excused for these absences.

It was reported after Monday’s game that the Rockets would be sending Scott Machado, Donatas Motiejunas, and Royce White down to the NBA Development League.

According to the Houston Chronicle, White did not attend Tuesday’s practice with the Rockets, and nobody seems to know why. At this point the Rockets have not commented on White’s participation in the D-League, but have made contact with Machado and Motiejunas.

As many already know, White suffers from an anxiety disorder that has forced the Rockets to communicate differently when commenting on White. They have continued to stick by him, and are working closely in an effort to further progress White’s career in the NBA.

It’s an odd situation that has fans completely perplexed. Royce has yet to play this season, and has been put on the inactive list multiple times already.

When Rockets forward Marcus Morris was asked if he had spoken to White about his own D-League experience, Morris exclaimed White had not been in practice for at least three days.

Since White hasn’t been a part of the rotation yet, the distraction may not be as severe as one may expect.

It will be important for White to straighten out his issues, and play significant minutes in the D-League. It’s an essential time for progression, and White has already missed one week of training camp, and several days of practice.

It’s unclear if anxiety has anything to do with the latest disappearing act by White, but the Rockets will continue to find chemistry with or without his services.

The owner of the Rockets, Mr. Leslie Alexander was not shy about sharing his thoughts on the Royce White situation, as he addressed the media.

“If he doesn’t work out, it’s tough to lose a draft choice.”

The Wandering Beard

As Thunder GM Sam Presti was watching his former sixth man run circles around the Pistons, I suspect he had a moment of recoil. At least he should have.

Keep in mind that as the Lakers struggle to 0-10 (including preseason) much like the Heat struggled a couple of years ago, NBA analysts around the country emphasize that a team needs time to “gel”. And while I don’t doubt the acumen or insider expertise of any of these former players and coaches, I did just watch James Harden turn into “Big Game” James and drop a LeBron James like stat line without ever having played with any of the current Rockets.

James Harden came off the bench last year and regularly sparked the Thunder to victories. He was a burst of energy that the other team rarely saw coming, and often had no answer for. Standing 6’5” and 230lbs, Harden has prototypical size for his position and is one of the best athletes in the NBA. If he had LeBron’s size I could make a case for him possibly growing into the best in the game. He drives the ball with raw power and swift feet. He shoots the ball with a silky release and a confident follow-through. He’s already one of the most intelligent players with the ball in his hands. And he is COLD BLOODED.

Now, none of this is news to Sam Presti. So why get rid of him? Money, money, money. He saw Harden was in line for the type of deal he got from Houston and simply could not fit that into the Thunder’s current budget. The key word there being “current”. Durant, Westbrook and Perkins are all locked up to big deals and Harden’s deal would have meant another $30 mil in luxury tax.

I get that, but here’s the thing: Would you rather have Westbrook or Harden signed to a max deal?

Russell Westbrook is one of the best talents in the NBA and there is absolutely no disputing that. But he is a little behind the curve from the neck up. He fires wild, wayward passes; often turning the ball over more than 7 or 8 times in a game. Most possessions that begin with the ball in his hands end that way. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen him dribble the ball up, then just pull up from 15 feet. That’s great when you make 70% of them, but that seems to be happening less and less. Meanwhile, the best scorer in the game goes possession after possession without touching the rock. My biggest problem with him is he clearly thinks he’s a better player than Durant. That’s not a strategy conducive to winning.

Presti could have, and in my opinion should have dumped Westbrook on a team for a good young point guard who is years away from a big payday or a veteran who can be an extension of Scott Brooks on the floor. Even Harden himself would have been an excellent solution at point guard.

But c’est la vie, Presti decided to hold on to one of the more volatile personalities in the NBA and dumped his 23-year-old Sixth Man of the Year.

My second problem here is the haul he got for Harden. Presti brings in Kevin Martin, who was a good scorer in Houston, but who else was going to score for them? Martin is a solid talent, moves off the ball well and has a good, albeit funky-looking jumper, but he has been apathetic to coaching in the past.

My big problem is after that they landed Jeremy Lamb and three draft picks. Picking in the NBA draft can truly be a lottery experience. The Thunder have drafted well, yes, but there is also a lot of luck involved in that. They could have easily ended up with Greg Oden, OJ Mayo and Hasheem Thabeet (who is ironically on the team this year) in the drafts that netted them Durant, Westbrook and Harden.

Obviously, only Presti knows what other offers were out there, but I can’t believe he got all he could for a man on the verge of becoming one of the best shooting guards in the NBA. If anyone had to go, Westbrook should have been the guy here. Only time will tell of course, but I seriously doubt any of the other teams in the West are sad to see Durant and Harden split up. They could have been a new generation Jordan-Pippen.

I’m afraid in the next five years Durant will have to endure some serious frustration with Westbrook and that this could end in tragedy for OKC.

James Harden Is A Foundational Player

Rockets general manager Daryl Morey has to be walking around with that “I told you so,” grin tonight.

The Houston Rockets opened the season on the road against the Detroit Pistons, and James Harden was ready to play. Harden had signed his monster five-year, $80 million contract extension just hours before the game.

“James Harden is a player we can build around, and continue to improve the team around his skills,” Morey said. “He’s an elite offensive player, a complete player. He can pass, shoot, attack the basket. Even though he’s a gold medalist, an Olympian and made the Finals, I still think he’s an underrated player. He’s absolutely someone who, when they see him step into the role of a star for the Houston Rockets, people are going to realize just how good he is.”

It’s a feeling many of us will never have, but it’s safe to assume $80 million on paper makes you feel really good.

So good, that Harden decided to prove all his doubters wrong in one night.

“He’s just a sixth man,” some said.

“He’s not worth $80 million!” others said.

Harden dominated the game from start to finish, showing he doesn’t need Kevin Durant, or Russell Westbrook casting a shadow in his path.

Harden finished with 37 points, 6 rebounds, 12 assists, 4 steals, and 1 block.

According to ESPN State & Info, Harden is the first player in NBA history to have at least 30 points, and 12 assists, in his first game with a new team. Harden set career-highs tonight in minutes played, as well as assists, and field goals made.

It’s just one game, and Harden certainly will not average 37 points on a nightly basis, but if leadership was ever a doubt, he squashed that notion to a pulp.

Morey called Harden a “foundational” player, anyone dare to disagree?

Omer Asik Thrives With Rockets

The Rockets have completely revamped the roster, and while the year promises to bring excitement, the challenges this young team will face will require patience. The preseason so far has shown the ups and downs each player faces, and what they will need to address as the season progresses.

As Daryl Morey continues his quest for a franchise player, the Rockets find themselves in search for stability. The presumed starting lineup will feature a backcourt of Jeremy Lin, and Kevin Martin, while Chandler Parsons, Patrick Patterson, and Omer Asik round out the starting five.

Omer Asik signed a three year 25 million dollar contract with the Rockets which left many wondering if the team overpaid for the center. The term “poison pill” swept the basketball nation by storm after general manager Daryl Morey executed a savvy method earlier on Jeremy Lin. The “poison pill” would have the Rockets pay Asik 14.9 million in 2015, a contract that would be backlogged, making the investment difficult for the Chicago Bulls to swallow.

So far the preseason has proven to many Rockets fans that not only is Asik’s label as an above average defensive center true, but that his dedication after receiving a lucrative contract doesn’t need to be questioned.

In six preseason games played, Asik has racked up 69 rebounds, 25 of them being offensive. The Turkish center has shown his relentlessness on the boards each game, bringing a mixture of youth and height at the center position that the team has not had in years.

Asik’s ability to read plays on the defensive end is stellar. He moves his feet strategically, and most importantly realizes what he’s capable of doing. Asik has shown that he rarely takes risks that he knows he can’t handle. For a 255 pound center, Asik is able to cover the pick and roll, and stretch his defense out to the perimeter.

The forward heavy team is so thin at the five, that Asik’s value is irreplaceable. The Rockets do have Donatas Motiejunas the seven-foot rookie from Lithuania, but his lack of experience has shown this preseason. Greg Smith is another big man the Rockets are hoping to cultivate, but as they wait, Asik’s experience becomes all the more important.

Asik’s ceiling as an offensive player may not be high, but for the Rockets his defensive presence will help a backcourt of Lin, and Martin who aren’t traditionally known for defense. It will be interesting to see Asik transition into a starters role. He played behind the talented Joakim Noah in Chicago, but in Houston he is the man in the paint. Asik’s main challenges will be pacing himself, and staying out of foul trouble, something so many centers struggle with.

Asik is averaging 8 points, 1 steal, and 11.5 rebounds per game.

The pill on Asik was labeled “poison,” but for the Rockets it’s a prescription that they haven’t taken in years.

Rockets Sign Scott Machado

The Houston Rockets have officially signed Scott Machado to a reported three year deal.

Machado had a strong showing for the Rockets in summer league play, averaging 8.0 points and 5.6 assists in five games.

With Jeremy Lin being the obvious starter at point guard, Machado will be battling for minutes against Shaun Livingston, Toney Douglas, and Courtney Fortson who all are at different stages in their career.

Machado who led the nation with 9.9 assists per game in his senior year at Iona, surprisingly went undrafted.

“It’s another fuel to the fire, that’s exactly what it is,” Machado said. “I was very disappointed. It was so disappointing it became a trending topic.”

Machado dished out 880 assists in 132 games ranking him 17th in NCAA history.

“They know I’m a great passer,” Machado told the Houston Chronicle. “I feel like every day I progressed and got better just getting more comfortable and more used to the style of play and the pace of the game, the players around me.”

The Rockets also announced they have waived Diamon Simpson to make room for Machado, on what is already considered a jam packed roster.

Rockets Welcome Back Lin

A familiar face filled the practice court at Toyota Center today. Just seven months ago Jeremy Lin was wearing a Houston Rockets practice jersey, just trying his best to make the team. Well we all know how “Linsane” the situation turned out to be, and the rest was history.

The Rockets front office has been busy this offseason trying to transform this team into a contender. We have heard several reports involving Dwight Howard but nothing has formulated yet. The Rockets could not swing a deal on draft night for the big man, so instead they drafted three talented rookies and made offers to Lin and Bulls big man Omer Asik.

“I have so much room for improvement,” Lin said.

Phase one is now complete. Lin is officially a Rocket once again, and this time he’s here to stay.

“We made an error by letting him go, and I think we rectified it now,” Rockets owner Leslie Alexander told the press.

In 35 games Lin averaged 14.6 points per game, along with 6.2 assists. It’s a small sample size for a player raking in the money Lin will be receiving from the Rockets, but it comes with much more than basketball. The Rockets have strong business ties with China through the association of Yao Ming, and you can be sure this decision was not only based on basketball, but most importantly business. Whether Lin can improve is still a mystery, but whether the Rockets will benefit greatly from his popularity is not. The Rockets had one nationally televised game that was specifically picked up for playoff implications last season, with Lin that changes.

Still not buying the hype? After the Knicks declined to match the “poison pill” contract dished out by Daryl Morey, Lin + Houston Rockets mentions went through the roof! Popularity by association was the name of the game. Mentions ranged from “The Daily Show with Jon Stewart,” to a funny one liner from late night talk show host Jimmy Fallon. When’s the last time the Rockets got any national exposure like that?

The effect is instant, and the Rockets will do everything they can to capitalize on that. Here’s to hoping the Lin effect lures in a superstar, and more national exposure. Obviously this will all depend on Lin’s improvement, and while the media rush is not as intense in Houston as it is in New York, if he continues to improve this could be a huge win for the Rockets.

It’s important to keep in mind the Rockets did not break the bank on Lin. They will still be in a good shape to acquire a superstar; it’s just a matter of finally landing one.

Dwight Howard seems to be warming up to the idea of being a Laker long term. This means it may be time for the Rockets to set sights on Andrew Bynum. Assuming they can keep guard Jeremy Lamb who had a stellar summer league showing, a backcourt of Lin and Lamb mixed with a dynamic duo of Bynum and Asik may just turn out to be a nice long term foundation.

This is step one for the Rockets in a series of moves that are still needed for this team to move into championship contention. They have cleaned out the roster and are doing everything they can to make this basketball team better.

“I’m just excited to be here,” Lin said. “I think the biggest thing that excites me is the fact that I know what this organization is about.”

Rockets Amnesty Scola

The Rockets have decided to amnesty fan favorite forward Luis Scola, according to Yahoo! Sports. Scola who had three years and $21 million left on his contract, is now a biddable piece for multiple teams in the league.

The Rockets are clearing space for Dwight Howard. The “Dwightmare” saga continues, and the Rockets are not bluffing. General manager Daryl Morey is swinging for the fences, and no matter how irresponsible it looks, Morey is trying to land the best center in the NBA. If the Rockets are able to land Howard then the adventure is just starting. The team will finally have a superstar, but one that may not be around for long. Howard will arrive in Houston without an extension, meaning the Rockets will have to roll out the red carpet, and somehow convince Dwight that Houston should be his next stop for a championship.

In order for the Rockets to make that sales pitch, they would have to do a whole lot more than just acquiring Dwight. We don’t know the specifics of any deal yet, and it’s still being reported no deal is imminent, but that seems far-fetched at this point. With the Nets out of the picture, the Rockets are the best option the Magic have.

With the amnesty of Scola the Rockets will put themselves in a position to acquire a second max deal next summer. This situation gives the team a realistic chance of pairing Dwight with a star, and having him sign with the Rockets long term.

In the midst of landing a superstar, the Rockets have lost an extremely hard working player in Luis Scola. The Argentinian was drafted 56th overall in the 2002 NBA Draft by the San Antonio Spurs. The Spurs traded Scola to the Rockets who flourished for the team. It was a sweet victory for management and fans. Not only did they acquire a hard working player, but they pried him away from a division foe. Ironically rumors now show the Dallas Mavericks being front runners for Scola, which couldn’t be more painful for Rockets fans.

Scola was known for his brilliant post moves, and quick scoring abilities. He quickly became a fan favorite and was labeled the “Ice Cream Man,” because of his finesse scoop like finishes. His defense certainly declined, but working hard was never an issue. Scola’s struggles were not because of laziness, but instead lack of athletic ability. Scola scored a career high 44 points against the Nets, solidifying how gifted he was on the offensive end. He is and always will be a fan favorite in Houston for all his memorable performances, and kindness towards “Red Nation.”

The Rockets have been relentless, stubborn, ambitious, and crazy, but you can’t question perseverance. The front office is doing everything they can to better this team, and swinging for the fences is not a bad idea when you don’t have much to lose.

Toronto Steals Lowry From Houston

It took Bryan Colangelo less than 24 hours to regroup from losing Steve Nash.

In a move that won’t have the same flash or sizzle of adding Nash, Colangelo made a bold move by stealing Kyle Lowry from the Houston Rockets for a heavily protected first round pick.

It may not be the sexy move, but it was probably a better move than adding Nash.

Lowry finished last season averaging 14.3 points, 6.6 assist and 4.5 rebounds. Keep in mind for a stretch of the season Lowry flirted with 20 points and 10 assists per game. During the month of January he averaged 15.0 points, 7.1 assists and 6.7 rebounds while playing gritty defense.

It’s not like Lowry is the only possible target for Colangelo. There was talk leading up to the NBA Draft that Andre Igoudala and Rudy Gay might be headed to Toronto. While new management in Memphis has quieted the rumours of Gay being dealt, it wouldn’t come as a surprise to see Igoudala dealt this summer.

Igoudala only averaged 12.9 points and 5.7 rebounds while having a player efficiency of 13.77. Hardly the stuff to excite fans in Toronto. But, due to the playing style of Doug Collins, the Sixers’ leading scorer last season was sixth man Lou Williams.

There are a lot of people in the NBA who feel that if Igoudala was playing in a system where he was featured it would allow him to average close to 18 points like he averaged a couple seasons back.

Plus, a huge bonus for Toronto is that Igoudala is a small forward known for being a gritty defender.

Here’s to hoping that Philly would be willing to take on some young pieces like Ed Davis or DeMar DeRozan while taking some expiring contracts like Linas Kleiza or Jose Calderon in the process.

While none of these moves have the luster of inking Nash trading for a valuable piece or two may turn out better.

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.