As the trade deadline approaches the message boards are begging to heat up around the league, and especially on this site. We've discussed all of the usual names since day 1. We know that the Rockets like K. Martin, but are willing to move him if the right piece comes along, and they feel that Courtney Lee could adequately fill in as the starting SG. The same goes for Scola as there are concerns that at 31 he is beginning to slow down (I think thats overated, and more a result of Knee surgery in the offseason, and a rediculously condensed schedule in a lockout shortened season), and His contract could become a burden, and PPat is ready for a bigger role. The 09ers are all readily available for picks, or other yound promising prospects as well. Throw in Budinger and Dragic, and that means everyone on the team can be had except Lowery, Dalembert, Morris, and Parsons. And Im sure they're all readily available too for the right deal. But the question is how much should we value Lowery. I say, Lowery is the driving force for this current team, which is good, but definitely not great or mistaken for contenders in the west. Lowery is young, improved, hungry, has bargain contract, and his value around the league IMO is at its peak, which is EXACTLY why he should be the primary trade bait used to fetch Daryl Morey the piece or pieces he desires. My reasoning after the jump.
Its been mentioned in this space before about how Aaron Brooks' value was at an all-time high coming off that playoff series against LA in '09. We had a similar situation in my opinion at the PG position with Kyle Lowery waiting in the wings as the backup PG off the bench who showed the ability to completely change the course of the game, with his hustle and all out style of attacking the defense for 15-25 mpg. But the knock on him was would his style translate as a full time starter where he would have to slow down and play a more controlled game. Another question was could his body hold up with his rough style of play, and could he be a consistent enough threat from the perimeter to keep defenses honest. Morey loved Kyle, and knew that a descision would need to be made at that position sooner rather than later, and at the time popular thinking was that Brooks would end up being the most expensive option of the two. However Morey failed to capitalize on Brooks growing notariety around the league at that time, choosing instead to sign Lowery who's contract was due up one season earlier, then force Brooks to play out the final season of his contract, enter RFA, and let the market determine his worth, feeling that he could scare off potential suitors by threatining to match or collect more assets via a sign and trade. The decision backfired horribly for all involved (especialy AB) as Brooks' concerns over his contract affected his play to open the season, he then tore a ligament in his ankle, (which the team misdiagnosed or hid by saying it was a bad sprain) rushed back too early only to prove not ready and ineffective, and was unable to regain his starting spot from Lowery who was proving to be a legit starter in the league. The Rockets ended up unloading AB to the Suns for a package of Dragic and a 1st round pick (lottery protected). Not horrible, but definitely not the same value Brooks would have warranted that summer prior to the start of the season.
Now it's 2012 and behold, things seem to have come full circle. Lowery is the starter, Dragic is the backup FA to be who has at times singlehandily kept the bench and team afloat, and done so on the biggest stage (25 4th qtr pts in the playoffs, against the Spurs no less). Lowery has proven he is a very good (not great) pg, and the debate is can he continue to get better. My answer to that question is probably not. Lowery isn't overly quick, like Rose, Westbrook, or Rondo, he isn't close to the scorer that D Williams, Rose, and Westbrook are on a nightly basis, he doesn't run an offense the way CP3 can, getting to his spot and doing what he wants even when everyone in the building knows what is coming, and his best offensive move is a long pullup 3 as time expires more often than not.
Now I don't say this to slight Lowery because I love him just like the rest of us, and any coach, hell any player, would want him on their team. But lets not overinflate his value. He will not make multiple all star appearances like Wall and Irving seem destined to do once they slow down a bit and think the game more than simply relying on pure atheletic ability. And he is not changing the culture of a team the way Rubio has done in Minnesota, as a rookie in the same offense that Lowery played in. What Lowery is is a good young 2nd tier pg, the same way that KMart is a good second tier SG. They help every team but they aren't built to be the best players on a team. Together they get you right were the Rockets are (middle of pack playoff team/end of the draft lottery team). Lowery should be any more untouchable than KMart is, especially considering in todays NBA there is an overabundance of good pg (parker, felton, holiday, lawson, curry, LIN, Jennings, teague, ect.) in addition to the guards mentioned above. For comparisons sake, how many SGs would you want over KMart. This is not to say we SHOULD DEFINITELY value Kmart more, but its just for comparisons sake to make a case that Lowery isn't unreplaceable, and he should be offered in any trade that makes us better now and in the future just as everyone else on our team would be. Don't be surprised if Lowery is moved at deadline for that exact reasons, because Morey undoubtedly knows he blew it a couple years ago with AB. Factor in Llull likely coming over next season, and its even more of a possibility. Dragic can start in this league, if given the opportunity, ook at Lin, I think Dragic is better.
As for my opinion, will I be exstatic to land Gasol. Not really. But I will say, that a team with Dalembert, Gasol/Patterson (bench), Parsons/Bundinger (bench, Martin/Lee (bench), Dragic/Flynn (bench) is better offensively, defensively, and on the boards than one with Lowery and Scola. Gasol addition gives us more size, and a more consistent low post scorer, and IMO would secure us as a 2nd round or better playoff contender. Not sure that our current lineup could pass the 1st round or even hold on to the playoff spot we currently hold.
We all love Lowery, just as we loved Landry, Chuck, AB, and Battier, but those are pieces that can be replaced,NOT SOMETHING TO BE CONSIDERED UNTOUCHABLE.