The Dream Shake Writer Roundtable 3 on 5

They told me David Stern is trying to give me a title and I was like "WHAAAAAA?"

Here we go folks, we’re back with our weekly installment of the writer’s roundtable. Today we address a wide variety of questions and Patrick, AK, and I give you a wide variety of answers. This week we have to lend our thanks to Dupax, Twinkilling0303, VBG, datruth1, and ak2themax for questions. Yes, I recognize AK is both a writer and had a submission but you can mock him relentlessly here for hogging the spotlight. We’ll talk to you about the draft, free agency, Kevin Martin, JaVale McGee, and the amnesty clause. I hope you guys enjoy this and we love answering your questions. We received a lot of great questions and hope to continue this momentum. You all ask wonderful questions and we enjoy taking them so make sure you keep them coming.

You can submit your questions via e-mail at tdsmailbag@gmail.com or post your questions directly to the thread here. You don’t need to be a registered TDS user to submit questions, either! All questions are saved for use either today or in a later edition. We’re happy to take multiple questions from the same user but we do try to get a different user for each question. Don’t worry, that just means you’ll get more exposure next week if you ask a lot of great questions.

1. Presuming we still landed the 14th and 16th pick in the 2012 draft, who among the candidates would bring the biggest asset to the team? - Dupax

BD34: I really feel like the biggest upside players available with the 14th and 16th Pick comes down to three guys. Terrence Ross, Quincy Miller, and Fab Melo. I like Ross for the swiss army knife effect I see after watching his tape. He brings scoring, good size at the shooting guard, and gives us some of what we lost in Battier’s departure. I think he makes Martin expendable, which is just an added bonus. I like Miller because I feel that although his lift is awful on his jumper, I see a good amount of athleticism and I’ll take a flyer on that injury of his. Melo is a major source of contention on the site lately but I’m happy to go ahead and say take him. He’s a legit 7 footer, came from a great program at Syracuse and yes, has his head screwed on a bit loose but why else would we have gotten McHale if not for this specific case? A high upside young big man who needs offensive refinement and a little bit of discipline? Sounds like the best case scenario for us.

ak2themax: I still like Austin Rivers more than the average person, and he could be a great backup plan in case Dragic gets signed to another squad. He’s more of a Bobby Jackson "point guard" in that he’s looking to score first. But in the NBA, especially as a young guy you have to play with the team and I think he could become a decent distributor.
Fab Melo is another guy I’m interested in. Like BD said, he’s a 7-footer. That should be enough to interest you. And he doesn’t look like he’s going to fall over while running, which was always a legitimate fear with Hasheem Thabeet. Is he a project? Yes. Will some team possibly lose their minds and trade for him even if he doesn’t pan out? Yes. So what’s the harm?
And only because I said I thought the Rockets would take a look at him, Draymond Green fits the mold of a Rockets draft pick. Four years in college, mature, great citizen, and undersized power forward checks off all the boxes for Morey. He could play the 3 for the team if he loses some weight, and he can distribute. I think he could be a solid pickup, though he’ll probably be a second-rounder, which the Rockets do not possess.

PatrickHarrel: Personally, I would be looking at a few players if I were the Rockets: Tyler Zeller, Austin Rivers, and Arnett Moultrie. Some (justifiably) look at upside as a huge need for the Rockets, but Zeller seems to be the kind of player that could start in the middle for the next decade or so. If he lasts to the Rockets at 14, I’d imagine the Rockets would have a hard time passing him up.
Rivers has been discussed extensively on TDS, and I agree with the sentiment that he has "it." Some players, you just don’t see the drive and passion, but you can see them clearly in Rivers. He’s a fluid ball-handler who could fit in the Rockets’ offense as another threat to penetrate the lane. Obviously, if he were the complete package he would be going earlier than 14 or 16, but he’d be a pretty good value if he were to fall.
Arnett Moultrie is another big man but hasn’t been on as many people’s radars as Zeller. He’s long at 6’11" and pairs the length with solid leaping ability, making him a serious alley-oop threat. He’s certainly not going to be featured offensive player because of a lack of back-to-basket skills, but as a rebounder and an off-ball cutter, you could do a lot worse. He’s much more of a gutsy pick than Zeller (and certainly an inferior prospect to Zeller), but if he lasts to 16 I could see the Rockets picking him up.

2. Should the team pursue a free agent small forward this offseason even if it means stunting Chandler Parson’s growth? - Twinkilling0303

BD34: I think so. You know, at the end of the day, Chandler Parsons is nice but I don’t see him as the guy I want on my starting lineup when this team gets ready to be serious. I’m a fan of the idea of trying to overload an offer to the guy we drafted and traded a few years ago, Nicolas Batum. Gerald Wallace will most likely opt in at 9.5 million this coming season because he’s not likely to fetch equal or greater value on the free agent market (Unless Brooklyn is so toxic as to warrant he bolts). I think Batum is an odd-man out in Portland and Portland is often cited as a capable trade partner for their pick or their market for a point guard, which we can take care of. I don’t know if Parsons has a great deal of growth left that Batum starting could interrupt. Ultimately I think Batum’s upside and current side is already much higher than Parsons and Parsons had four years at Florida, meaning he’s already pretty much what he’s going to be.

ak2themax: This isn’t a tough one, if only because there are no decent free agent small forwards on the market. Seriously, Gerald Wallace is the best one, and he’s got a player option of $9.5 million, so he might not even be available. Or, how do you feel about Grant Hill, because he might be your best bet.
So, to make a long story short, Chandler Parsons should be the small forward of the immediate future, if only because he is the best 3 available to the Rockets. Parsons can lead to better things for the team just by developing himself into an even more valuable trade asset.

PatrickHarrel: This is a toughie for me. I LOVE Chandler Parsons’ game (which will make the inevitable sophomore slump all the more unbearable), but I think the Rockets have to be in the position where they should look to stockpile as much talent as possible, regardless of position. Whether that is Gerald Wallace, Nic Batum, Jeff Green, Ersan Ilyasova (watch out for that name), or Roy Hibbert, the Rockets have to push to increase their level of talent.
If you have a pair of small forwards playing at a high level, you can find a spot for them. Parsons can guard 2’s and 3’s well and can slide to the 4 in a pinch, and the same applies for a number of the other free agents. At times, the Rockets demanded way too much out of Parsons, asking him to guard the opponent’s best player while playing upwards of 40 minutes per game for stretches, and less pressure could do Parsons well.

3. What is Kevin Martin’s future with the Rockets and what does he have left to offer? - VBG

BD34: Everyone knows I’m not a big Kevin Martin fan. He is extremely one dimensional and, granted, he operates in that one dimension pretty well but if I’m the Rockets moving forward, I want two way players. Martin is only valuable if you have a franchise player on your roster to give him a break. We don’t have that, we don’t have utility for Kevin at that point. I think the lingering shoulder injury and the lack of whistles will diminish his value. He’s almost 30 years old but he does wonders for an offense’s movement. I guess the question is what is the market for a guy whose only contribution is scoring and who has a lingering injury and failure to contribute in other ways? I think you could maybe package him with some of our cap space to eat a bad contract and get a decent draft pick. I feel like Portland or Minnesota would at least listen to the pitch, even if none of them really have a nasty contract to ship out.

ak2themax: Everyone knows that I’m a big Kevin Martin fan. When you need points, he’s your guy. Frustration set in early in the season when referees stopped blowing their whistles when he went into his pump fakes. However, he’s still the best shooter on the team. He’s ability to come off screens and create off-the-ball movement helps free up other players too. Screen and rolls were a big part of the Adelman offense, and it’s not as if McHale’s version doesn’t include them at all. With a real 7-footer (or two) behind him, Martin’s defense doesn’t become such a liability. Finally, how can a team suffer from having a guy who can go off for 25 points every night?

PatrickHarrel: Sometimes you have to understand your role and embrace it. I’m a Kevin Martin apologist. I like to point out that Martin had his best stretch of the season before his shoulder injury which led to his horrible slump. I honestly do expect Kevin Martin to rebound with a solid season next year, and score 20-25 points per game with strong efficiency numbers like he has done the last five years.
However, I do doubt that he will do for a full year in a Rockets’ uniform. I’m not a tremendously connected man, but the one person I am acquainted with in the Rockets organization indicated to me that they (as expected) view Courtney Lee as the future at the position. If an opportunity presents itself to sign a top free agent, I would expect the Rockets to ship Martin out without a second thought. On the other hand, from what I can gather, the Rockets would prefer to have Martin re-establish his value before they put him on the trading block.
In short, I wouldn’t be shocked to see Martin in the starting lineup on Opening Night, but I’d be careful before buying a Martin jersey.

4. What do you feel about offering a loaded contract to JaVale McGee this offseason? - datruth1

BD34: JaVale’s maximum contract value is 9 million dollars per year under the current Collective Bargaining Agreement. DeAndre Jordan is receiving a 4 year 43 million dollar deal right now. McGee gives you twice as many points, 3 more boards, and 1 more block per game than Jordan gives you. You could potentially snatch McGee at 7 million dollars less (overall) than Jordan earns. There is always a market for big men, especially athletically gifted ones.
I’m sure the Rockets wouldn’t mind having a guy who gives you production and youth like McGee and I wholeheartedly believe his ability to be a moron is overrated by fans who don’t know the situation he was in here in DC. Everyone likes to mock and no one likes to learn. McGee was on a bad team with no direction and was increasingly being pushed away by the front office. He knew the Wizards didn’t want him and he was more interested in padding stats at that point because he didn’t agree with what the front office was doing overall. The Rockets have a great deal more discipline than DC has seen (Keep in mind, the Wizards RECENTLY finished getting rid of their big 3 and is culling the roster like Portland had to a few years ago, passing harsh judgment and "perennial cellar dweller" doesn’t really apply to a 5 year rebuild plan) and it’s smart to start off on the right foot with a nice offer. I say offer him 8 or 9 million a year, we’ve got all this salary cap space, use it. Especially if we wind up near the 20 million mark or so.

ak2themax: No thank you. McGee is a nice athletic big, but I don’t see him getting much better. Where he is right now is where he’ll be in five years. And athleticism fades with age and injuries. Seriously, can you see McGee becoming a back-to-the-basket player? Or someone who can anchor the defense on a contender?
I also just can’t see Les and Morey going for another head case. I think they got their fill with the #wordaapp star last season, and they will be hesitant to offer McGee a contract, much less one that ties them to the future of such a volatile individual.

PatrickHarrel: This is a no for me. Paying McGee the maximum would be a huge overpay on the part of the front office and far too desperate for my taste. Obviously, Daryl Morey has to be taking chances at this point, but giving McGee a starting salary of roughly $13 million would be a gross overpay and one that could hamstring the Rockets for years.
After fighting for years to get out from under the McGrady-Yao contracts, why sacrifice the flexibility the Rockets have built buy paying a guy to be your best player when he’s nowhere near that?
At this point, Javale McGee essentially is what he is. He’s still young, but after four years in the league, we know his strengths and weaknesses. He’s an extraordinary shot-blocker with outrageous athleticism for his size, he runs the floor like a deer, and can throw in some short range jumpers. At the same time, he’s not a back-to-basket threat, shows next to no basketball IQ, and makes Samuel Dalembert look disciplined with his goaltends.
He’s an immensely talented player who is also deeply flawed. He’s not a max player, and not even close in my book.

5. Do the Rockets use the amnesty this summer? If so, on whom? - ak2themax

BD34: Do I want them to? Yes, very yes. Do I think they will? No. I think the Rockets need to shop Scola aggressively this summer and see what they can get for him. If they can’t frame a trade package around him, he has to go. He’s reliable but we’re logjamming that position and we need to go young and rebuild this thing. Scola’s contract only gets uglier from here on out and he isn’t going to be younger. Yes, I know all the praise, his game isn’t athletic, not as damaging on his body, he’s savvy, etc... but this season showed he’s relying too much on his smarts and it’s to the detriment of his game because he’s starting to overthink. He gets gassed at the end of games, and I think our only options are to ship him to a team that could use a great back up PF or an adequate starting PF. We should have cashed in on Luis before this season but that’s an entirely different criticism I have of this organization. So, if the Rockets are interested in rebuilding and solving this problem they need to try to trade Scola and if not, amnesty him.

ak2themax: What an amazing question. Seriously, what amazing human being came up with this one? Oh, that would be me. Okay, let’s get serious.
I don’t think they will use the amnesty. They should use it on Scola or Martin, if only to free up more money. At this point, those guys are superfluous if the team continues to draft power forwards to replace Scola and intend to re-sign Courtney Lee. I know I said I like Kevin Martin and that I think he can continue to contribute. That’s still true. But if the team wants to make a run at a free agent or re-sign Dragic and Lee, they probably have to dump one of these contracts. Or, if the Rockets decide to go all-in and pull the trigger on a Dwight Howard trade (assuming Orlando wants in), then either or both of those guys will probably be vital parts of that trade. But if those options are unavailable to the Rockets, letting go of one of them would signal the beginning of the end of the "win and reload" phase.

PatrickHarrel: The Rockets are a special case. Most teams have a few long term contracts that could go badly in the next year or two, and for them it makes sense to "save" their amnesty provision. The Knicks would be a perfect example of this. Because they used their amnesty on Chauncey Billups (an expiring contract) in order to acquire Tyson Chandler, the Knicks now could be in serious trouble if Amar’e continues to drop off with the 3 years and over $60 million remaining on the deal.
The Rockets, on the other hand, don’t really have any long term deals to worry about if they use the amnesty. Scola has two more guaranteed years, and Martin has just one. By that line of thinking, there is little reason not to use it. Nonetheless, the better question is why would they use it? Though Scola may not be worth $8 million per season, the Rockets don’t exactly have a great line of succession behind him. Patrick Patterson struggled mightily last year, and Donatas Motiejunas has yet to step foot on the NBA hardwood.
The question of why extends to Kevin Martin’s case. Martin is an expiring contract, and has been the team’s leading scorer over the last two seasons. Remember that the Marcus Camby trade would not have been possible without the Jonny Flynn and Hasheem Thabeet expiring deals before you dismiss the importance of that. I guess the Rockets could use the amnesty if a pair of superior free agents want to come to Houston, but money is not the Rockets’ problem right now.

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