Jonathan Feigen got us a
Christmas Holidays present. He directly addressed Carmelo Anthony rumors. He also addressed the Rockets interest in acquiring a frontcourt player. Hooray for Jonathan.
First, I wholeheartedly recommend that you take two minutes of your time to read the whole post.
Now, once you've finished, take a minute to gather your thoughts. See how they match up with mine, and be sure to point out any differences in the comments. Feigen's work is quoted in the gray boxes.
There are a few things to keep in mind amid the Carmelo Anthony trade rumors.
Of this, I have no doubt. Anthony rumors haven't been false nor blown out of proportion: the Rockets have had a vested interest in him ever since Denver wavered on whether or not they would trade him, before ultimately becoming publicly open to the idea. We should also be aware of the fact that if a trade discussion takes place over the phone in an NBA office, there is a good chance that Daryl Morey is on one end of the line.
I'm also fairly certain that Morey would be willing to part with just about anybody in order to take a gamble on Anthony. For the past few years, Morey has been able to buy low on players and squeak out extra trade benefits such as trade exceptions and draft picks. This time, however, Morey would have to take a gamble and risk losing a trade. In other words, he wouldn't be able to sell high on a player such as Carl Landry in order to pick up Kevin Martin, nor would he be able to take an expiring contract and turn it into Jordan Hill and draft picks. This time, it appears Morey would have to part with the best talent he has available and hope Anthony alone could outweigh the loss.
But I think we knew this already. The next paragraph, however, is the juice of the post:
They would even take their chances dealing for Anthony without a signed extension, gambling that they could win his confidence and/or he would eventually choose the much greater contract that would come from an extension compared to as a post-lockout free agent.
Let me preface this with a Twitter conversation that Matt Moore -- of Hardwood Paroxysm, Voice On The Floor, NBC Sports and CBS Sports fame -- and I had concerning Melo and the issue of an extension. Matt opened the scoring by offering the following point:
Note: This took place back on December 17.
Feigen points out the second advantage of taking an Anthony gamble without an extension: due to the structure of the current CBA, Anthony would get more money from an extension than from signing a new deal elsewhere.
Herein hangs the backdrop for debate amongst Rockets fans. It will remain in play right up until the moment the NBA trade deadline expires on February 24th at 3 p.m. ET: should Morey and the Rockets go all in on Anthony, or should they continue to play the waiting game with what they currently have and hope to strike gold in the later future?
I've been back and forth on this for a while now. In the midst of a four-game winning streak, it might be easy to say "no, thanks" to a potential non-extension Anthony trade. But what happens should the Rockets build up a losing streak against better competition? Do we then change our minds and come to a different consensus? I've tried to avoid being loopy in my attempt to reach any form of a conclusion on how best to approach the situation.
First and foremost, I've realized the sheer difficulty in making a sound roster change when the time calls for one. The good general managers must spend countless hours making note of every possible effect of a roster transaction. It's a tireless process, and regardless of what decision is ultimately made, there is often a tidal wave of backlash sooner or later, especially when we're talking about the potential losses at the expense of acquiring a star player like Carmelo Anthony. So, if anything, I've come to the conclusion that I have no business trying to cook up THE proper course of action. It's not that easy, for me or for anyone who is paid to make these types of decisions. Nothing is obvious whatsoever, unless you're Isaiah Thomas, in which case you do the best you can to avoid the obvious.
Ultimately, I'm still not sold on what to do about the future. Trading Yao will be incredibly difficult -- not just consciously, but logistically. But Yao aside, it would be an enormous gamble to take Anthony and place him on a roster that will be slightly worse than his current roster (once the trade is made) and hope for the best. If the opportunity is there -- if Anthony refuses an immediate extension and New Jersey backs out of talks -- the Rockets may not have a choice but to take it. If Anthony walks, as Matt said above, the Rockets simply blow it all up and rebuild.
The question then becomes: would acquiring Anthony simply speed up an inevitable process? Are the Rockets destined to rebuild, perhaps not now, but a few years down the road should they be good enough to compete for a playoff bid but not bad enough to merit a high lottery selection? Maybe. I can't be sure -- nobody can -- and this is why Daryl Morey has a really, really tough job. Your own answer may reflect your thoughts on Anthony, on the Rockets as a whole or perhaps just on the potential of Terrence Williams. I expect a mixed bag in the comments.
If I was hard-pressed to make a decision, then I take the risk with Anthony. I'm not going to speculate over who the Rockets would trade and whatnot, but if Houston were somehow able to come away with Carmelo Anthony, I would pull the trigger. Yes, this contradicts everything I wrote at the beginning of the season, but times have changed. I placed faith in Yao Ming's health and I lost -- his absence leaves a gap that needs to be filled with a player of Anthony's caliber.
However, according to Feigen, the Rockets don't appear to have the keys to the Anthony sweepstakes. Big surprise.
Nothing is going that way. For whatever reason, the Nuggets won't rise to the bait. They have put out mixed signals on if the Nets' Derrick Favors truly is the prize they want. That would make sense since they are insisting on top young prospects and he is the name that to many the Rockets could not match. For whatever reason, they have never shown interest in the Rockets roster.
Again, this all goes back to the extension philosophy: if Anthony refuses to sign an extension, Houston may be Denver's best choice, despite their apparent disinterest in the Rockets' roster. Dallas could also fill the "no extension" void. The jury is still out on New York, who could have as much say in these talks as anyone. I wouldn't get all worked up about what you read in the New York papers, though. They take bias to a new level.
There was even some talk that they just don't want the deals out there, but will keep talks alive to see if they can drive up the price. They seemed very close to a move on Tuesday, however, which would argue against the notion that they are posturing.
I think talks will last until the deadline. There is no rush to move Anthony, so why not drive the price as high as possible and see which teams decide remain steadfast in their attempts to trade?
Either way, the Rockets seem to be stuck on the outside.
Nothing new here. It doesn't help that the New York Knicks are winning, either.
There also does not seem a direct line to a center, with the centers they would want making more than their trade exception, disabled player exception or expiring contracts, or making too little for their teams to feel a need to move them. More likely, the Rockets will have to use one of those exceptions to take on a lousy contract in a separate, but simultaneous deal for the player they really want.
I still think at least three teams will be involved in any trade the Rockets make. Nothing matches up one-on-one with what the Rockets have to offer and what other teams might want in return, at least position-wise. It's a pipedream of mine that the Rockets could land Nene should Anthony head North as a third team. I'm also crossing my fingers that a team would have interest in a point guard and that the Rockets could pull a third team into discussions in order to get what they want.
Most of all, though, I think Chase Budinger will be the starting point in most of Houston's talks. I think I'm a little more keen on moving Brooks than Houston is, which leads me to believe that Budinger will be the primary trade chip before Morey decides to dig deeper into his roster.
Then again, things can change quickly. It's not too late to do some last-minute Christmas shopping. For now, no one seems willing to part with the gift the Rockets want.
The Rockets are a team once filled with assets galore, now filled with less attractive assets but still plenty of trade chips and yet nothing really fits. Go figure.
Anyway, that's my take on Feigen's excellent report. Thoughts?