Out of all the assets Houston has in its possession, the two future New York Knicks picks Morey was able to obtain from Donnie Walsh are the most valuable in the Rockets search for a top-tier free agent. The Knicks have put all their eggs into this year's free agency season, but what if they fall flat on their face? Walsh and staff have a reported $32 million in cap room to use this summer, which is enough to sign two superstars. Obviously two-time reigning MVP LeBron James is on the top of their priority list, but would signing with New York give King James the best option of winning now? The answer is a resounding no. Yes, the Knicks have the cap space to sign two legitimate superstars (something they have not been able to do in 14 years), but two guys can't take a team all the way. You need some sort of supporting cast to relieve your superstars. Also, the way things are lining up puts New York behind a lot of teams.
Chicago and Miami are the ke$ha of the NBA. They have emerged as the leading destinations for a lot of big stars very quickly and out of the blue. Chicago has always been in talks, but the teams financial situation put it behind say New York and New Jersey. Now, the Bulls look like the new front-runner to get the Kings rights after dumping enough salary through the Hinrich trade. There have also been many indications of a D-Wade-Bosh pairing in the works. So as teams start to travel the country trying to court these superstars, where does that put New York?
The most probable outcome is they could sign a single star, Amare Stoudemire or Joe Johnson, and divide the rest of their cap space among a couple of players with below-tier talent. Some of these players include Brendan Haywood, Mike Miller, Brad Miller, Tyson Chandler, Luke Ridnour, Rudy Gay, and J. J. Redick. This would be an immediate upgrade over the current roster, as the Knicks have no true star to give their fans.
As New York tries to swing for the fences during free agency, they will eventually strike out. This makes the two picks the Rockets hold in their possession extremely valuable when the big free agents slowly come off the market by signing with their respective teams. Looking at the picks: the Rockets have the right to swap picks in 2011 so long as New York doesn't win the number one overall pick in the Lottery. Also, the 2012 pick is Top 5 protected.
Morey and staff have many assets on the table, including an incredibly depth team at their disposal. To read more about the depth, check out the most recent article at Heart of a Champion. You look at the depth chart:
C: Yao Ming/ David Andersen
PF: Luis Scola / Jordan Hill / Chuck Hayes / Patrick Patterson
SF: Trevor Ariza /Shane Battier / Jared Jeffries
SG: Kevin Martin / Chase Budinger / Jermaine Taylor
PG: Aaron Brooks / Kyle Lowry
Package a pick or two around a young talent like Chase Budinger or Jordan Hill, and this turns into a very tempting offer that a team like Toronto will have a hard time turning down. However, first Morey and staff will have to wow Bosh and others in their pitch before a sign-and-trade will even be discussed. It looks like Houston is really putting a lot of emphasis on their pitch.
As Tom already reported, Morey is teaming up with Rockets beat writer Jason Friedman and ten of the Red Rowdies to travel around the country meeting certain free agents. This is such a creative way to approach these guys, having passionate and dedicated fans interacting with them is something not many teams are thinking of doing. It will be a breath of fresh air rather than sitting down with the GM, head coach, etc. When and where these meetings will take place is still up in the air. One thing is certain though, when Morey goes to the phones, the two New York draft picks will be something teams go after.