Melo out, Rockets fans, put the explosives away.

Two Things.

1) Nutshelled - I respectfully disagree with Mr. Kerns.  I think unless the cost to rent Carmelo Anthony is absurdly low, such a rental is best avoided.  Let me tell you a Houston sports story from days of yore...

Whatever the opposite of "In a nutshell" is: Long ago a gunslinger known as The Big Unit came to Houston.  As I see it, Carmelo Anthony is Randy Johnson.  Anyone remember that rental?  Sure it was baseball, but bear with me.  

When the Big Unit came over to our swamp, he said he wouldn't be staying.  Management spun frantically, saying, "Oh, he'll love us, he'll change his mind.  Houston is flat, hot, and obscure to the national media, who wouldn't stay?"  Despite these blandishments, the Unit departed.  Yes, he left a nice fat contract on the table, just like he said he would.  Now, he performed pretty well whilst here, but what did we give up?  (Remember this was back when Drayton was still funding an actual, good, farm system.)

Let's see - Freddy Garcia, a guy who was an ERA champ, all-star and went on to close out the Astros in Game 4 of the World Series, and Carlos Guillen, 3 time All Star who would have ably filled the sucking void the Astros laughingly called "shortstop" over the years.  Also there was John Halama - a useful lefty swingman who hung around for years. 

My guess is a trade for Carmelo Anthony would work out a lot like that for the Rockets.  A couple of future All-Stars, or near all-stars, (Patterson?  Williams? Hill?  Lee? Brooks? Budinger) a useful guy (Scola? Battier?) and perhaps a pick, for a guy who says he won't stay and will be as good as his word.  

There's one major difference, though, the Astros really were a contender when they traded for Randy Johnson.  They were riding high, and needed one last piece, another ace.  In the end it didn't help, but not because of Unit.  Can anyone say the Rockets are a piece away from challenging LA, Boston, Miami, Orlando, San Antonio?  Unless that piece is Dwight Howard, I'd say no.  

What does more scoring (ie Melo) get us?  Anything?  He won't defend as well as Battier, and another wing scorer isn't a pressing need.  We can't even play the ones we have (Terrence Williams).  Melo will put Houston on the "star map" again, for a couple of months.  As an 8 seed, perhaps, do you see Anthony helping us overpower LA or San Antonio?  Me either.

Now, if Denver badly overplays its hand, which is precisely what I think they're doing, then maybe this works.  Perhaps we get Melo for beyond cheap because Denver's real, actual, trading partners have left the table in disgust.  Then Morey tries to get something out of a S&T with the same max contract, only with Houston trading him to NYK or NJN this summer.  A nice idea, if the lockout doesn't bring the curtain down on that.

See, I think that there is posturing, and bluffing and what-not going with Denver and New Jersey.  But I also have personally been part of negotiations at a fairly high level.  I've seen cold-hearted pros get pissed off and walk away from a deal they truly wanted.  They were willing to pay, perhaps overpay. They weren't giving in to absurd demands, though. They would feel violated, demeaned and beaten.  People with big egos don't like that - that probably describes everyone involved in The Melo Situation.

Denver's demands are, frankly, absurd.  Remember, they can only actually deal with 2 teams out of the whole NBA because of McMelo & Wife.  This should give the Nets and Knicks bargaining power.  Only because the two New York teams are owned by a megalomaniac and a moron (Nets and Knicks, respectively) could Denver's requests be seriously entertained.

Derrick Favors, for example, is a 19 year old, 6'10" PF with all the NBA tools, and real skills.  He could have a better career than Anthony.  It's possible.  Besides that, by the time New Jersey is a contending team (as I see it) Favors will be in his early prime (24).  By that time Anthony will be 31, late prime, he'll also have sucked up any salary flexibility for building with youth in New Jersey for that period.

What is Denver offering, exactly?

From Denver the team acquiring Melo gets:

 

  1. The right to 1/2 season of The Basketball Stylings of Carmelo Anthony
  2. The Right To Sign Anthony to a Max Contract with an Extra Year of Paying Him The Max 
That's right, Nets or Knicks, you get the right to pay a 2nd tier superstar first tier money, money that will in fact almost certainly be lower for future deals of that sort after this summer's negotiations.  And for this Denver demands a Kings ransom?  Several players, salary relief, the #3 pick in a very good draft, picks and a partridge in a pear tree? 

 

So, in the end color me perplexed by this whole thing.  Teams trading away all their cheap valuable assets to sign a guy to what will become an untradable legacy deal?  I just don't see it.

 

2) Blow The Mother Up!  Do it Dude!

Nutshelled

Yes, I wrote a whole long piece saying that there was already a rebuilding team here in Houston.  Refer to it to see what I mean.

There's no need to blow anything up, because anything that's a legacy of the TMac/Yao dream (namely Battier's and Yao's high-dollar contracts) is going away in the offseason anyhow. The rest of the team is very young (excepting Miller and Scola).  

Luis Scola is movable, as he's out-producing Chris Bosh so far this season, but I don't see why you would do that except if you're really going to play all the kids all the time and someone offers you something very nice indeed.  Scola has shown he can do very well in a platoon, and his new platoon partner, 21 year old Patrick Patterson, will be ready soon.

Same with Kevin Martin.  Martin, whatever you may think, is a special scorer.  There aren't that many in the NBA.  If Martin played in Portland, and had 2-4 moving screens set for him every play he could easily average 30pts for a season.  Easily.  And he's cheap for that level of production, thus making him a valuable asset.  As he's only 27 though, there's no burning need to trade him before he turns into a moldy old pumpkin.  I see hanging him around like Reggie Miller.  

So I ask, blow up what, exactly?  Send who, exactly, away?  We already have a good young player at every single position (except one).  Because I don't think you'll click the nutshell link, let me spell this out again:

PG - Brooks/Lowry/Smith (25/24/22)

SG - Martin/Lee (27/25)

SF - Williams/Budinger (23/22)

PF -  Patterson/Hill/Hayes (21/23/27)

Sure, maybe Hill will turn into a center.  I think he'll turn into a center the same way Amare is used as a center - often enough - but it's not the highest and best use of his ability.  Williams can play anywhere from PG-SF, and Lee can run PG occasionally.  Hayes and Hill will play center if asked.  So what do we need?  Can you spot it?  

So the question is, rebuild where?  Blow up what?  Trim what old fat? (By the way, Jefferies doesn't count, everyone knows his expiring deal is going away soon.  And that's still more money off the books for the summer.  I don't think anyone would take Miller, unless it's Portland, because they're desperate if Camby doesn't get well.)

I can see one place that needs a bit of work. So can you.  So can everyone.  There are several centers coming on the market, we'll have money in our pocket.  Who knows, they might even take our money and stick around.

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