My second big-post (I am planning to be more active). I’ve been thinking about all the talk about the Lowry re-signing and the anticipated Scola re-signing. There appear to be a few main points being made by people, both of which I think are not true.
1) Signing Lowry and Scola could hurt the team financially if the Rockets must match ridiculous offers made by desperate GM’s who lack the ability to find good players with scouting and data analysis.
2) Signing Lowry will cause conflict with Aaron Brooks as both play the point and Brooks’ rookie contract is up next year and he will be due a huge pay raise.
First, it appears that in the next few years we will have the expiring contracts of David Andersen ($2.3mm), Battier ($6.8mm), Chuck ($2.1mm) and Jared Jeffries ($6.5mm). It looks like Battier’s time may be coming to an end with Ariza, Budinger and now Patterson all capable of playing small forward and, for as great a defender and leader as Battier is, $7mm being too much to pay for 8ppg and 5 rpg. So, that is $17.7 million that will be expiring in the next several years. Lowry is getting $6mm of that, leaving $11.7 million. That money will go a long way to re-signing Scola and AB. AND, the Rockets will be developing Hill, Patterson, and Budinger. So, if one or more of those players develops into a star, the Rockets can always use their Bird rights to sign them over the cap. Ditto for the Knicks picks. By focusing on developing young talent, the Rockets can keep retaining the guys that show promise and just keep finding new players to step up. It is a great system that is made possible when a GM is able to consistently identify new talent and effectively use the draft and trades to find undervalued young players. Check, check and check for Houston’s front office.
So, it looks like the Rockets can easily handle the financial ramifications of the Lowry, Scola (and then Brooks) re-signings.
Second, it has been brought up that there may be an emerging conflict with both Lowry and AB being too talented to develop together and that the Rockets may find themselves in an either or situation. To respond to that, it is pretty clear that Lowry is a good deal at $6mm and at the very least the Rockets have kept a good asset that they can trade if a conflict emerges down the road. However, I think that Lowry and AB should be kept together and that no conflict will emerge. Here is why…
Lowry is not just a back-up PG. He is also the back-up SG. He is the best second option at both those positions, so he should be able to soak up substantial playing time. He is even is able to use his playmaking ability to be the playmaker with AB the scoring guard when they are playing together. But, AB is the starter. He is a 20ppg PG with a lightning quick handle. He seems to score at will sometimes. AB’s numbers are virtually identical to Chauncey Billups’s and both are tied for being the second highest scoring PG in the league behind Derrick Rose, but AB played ALL EIGHTY-TWO GAMES, 4 higher than Rose and 9 higher than Billups.
However, Lowry is also extremely valuable. When Lowry went down, we would get destroyed when our third string PG went into the games. If anything, we need another strong PG to back up Lowry. Last season, PG seemed to be the most crucial position to the Rockets’ success.
FINALLY, it appears that the Rockets are positioned well to be a major contender this season. We have a backcourt that averaged 40 plus last season, a great defender in Ariza and two talented big men in the line-up. We also have an extremely deep and talented reserve roster. Our roster would likely be something like this:
1) AB, backed up by Lowry
2) Martin, backed up by Lowry and Budinger
3) Ariza, backed up by Budinger and Battier
4) Scola, backed up by Patterson and Chuck
5) Yao, backed up by Hill (6’10) and Chuck
That is a ridiculously deep roster. Even if Yao only averages 11 and 7, he is still 7’6 and we are still stacked at every position. The fact that the guard and PF spots have so much offensive fire-power gives Yao the ability to work his way back into top form.
So, despite all the concerns with the restricted free agency situation, the Rockets are good to go to make a serious run for the next three years at least. Coached by Adelman, this is going to be an incredible offensive squad. With the interior guarded by Yao, it will also be a great defensive squad as well.
Then the Knicks picks will be continued boosts that will keep the roster replenished indefinitely. Good times ahead. BIG REASONS for optimism and a great time to be a Rocket’s fan.