Hello TDS, this is the inaugural post for our own 3 on 5 here. Joining me today are my fellow writers AK2themax and Patrick Harrel and I'm grateful for their input and time. We are responsive to your requests and want to make this an interactive bit in addition to columns that constitute our own thoughts and today, you see the fruits of your suggestions. We'll be taking 5 questions each week, submitted by you guys, pertaining to anything Rockets related you want. We are open to suggestions here and I really should get back to checking the e-mail address of email@example.com for further contacts as well. It's our hope that you guys enjoy the column and will want to contribute to help it grow and thrive. The way it works is you guys make the suggestions and we select five of them, and save the rest.
This week we owe thanks to 4luvofthegame, Irish Thrasher, Twinkilling0303, makinmajik, and ehburrus. We got a lot of great suggestions from you guys and ultimately the selections come down to trying to pick one different user for each question. After the jump see the questions and answers and don't forget to add in your questions as well as your input guys! Enjoy!
Edit: Not sure how I missed it but if you want to submit your question either post it here, or if you'd rather submit it privately, please send the e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org and we'll consider the proposal!
How much is too much for a top 5 player (or pick)? - Submitted by 4luvofthegame
AK2themax: There’s a big difference between a top 5 player and a top 5 pick. I’d take a top 5 player over a pick, but I realize that’s not the question. So here’s the answer.
I’d give up everything.
Say Player X was a top 5 player and Team X was willing to deal him. Say they came to the Rockets and said, "We’ll make the trade, but we want everyone." Assuming this was possible with all the CBA restrictions, I’d say yes in a heartbeat. I’ll take a top 5 player surrounded by a bunch of scrubs any day, especially with Morey’s ability to deal for role players. He’s the GM LeBron never had in Cleveland. And I think building around a star is worth the farm.
BD34: In my eyes? If you’re this Rockets team a top 5 pick or player is worth everything. There is an important difference whether it is pick or player though.
For a top 5 pick, anything goes, I will fling all my resources at you. Take both our draft picks, take two or three guys off our roster, do what you want, just give me that tasty top 5 pick so we have a chance to be something someday. The rookie scale and a guy you can indoctrinate into Houston Rockets culture works in our favor to help bind that player to us.
For a top 5 player you gotta give me a long term contract top 5 player. I’m not dumping all my resources in on a rental, I’m not going to gut my roster for a prima donna who is going to split ASAP, I’m not looking for a one or two year guy in the off-chance he may grace us with his presence because "Houston is so nice." A top 5 player is worth a lot, but so isn’t long term building AROUND that top 5 player. I don’t want to guy my roster to get a gut just to finally field a title bidder around him as he’s walking out the door.
Patrick Harrel: I don’t know, a $50-100 million check slid under Dwight Howard’s door to convince him to extend in Houston? That might be pushing it, but I’d do it if I were Les Alexander. To be able to land a top five player under contract for more than three years would be worth every single player on the roster. Daryl Morey has shown that he can pull role players out of his *insert orifice here*, but landing a star to play with those players is the problem.
For a top five pick, the price would have to be lower. There is talk of trading Lowry away if the Rockets can land a top five pick, but I think that would be pushing it. As much as the Rockets would love to keep Goran Dragic around, I think the market is going to dictate that they let him go. In the scenario where the Rockets trade Lowry, they’d be forced to bring back Dragic at whatever rate he wants. Do you really want Dragic around at $10 million a year?
Kyle Lowry is a player you can start building around, a perfect complementary point guard for a star player. Let’s not let his late season infection take the shine off a tremendous season and start throwing him into every trade idea we concoct. Like every other Rockets fan known to mankind, I’d gladly give up our two first rounders along with Kevin Martin to move into the top five, but giving up Lowry would be too much to stomach.
What is Patterson’s role with the Rockets going forward? - Submitted by Irish Thrasher
AK2themax: He’s a trade asset. That’s a bit of a cop-out considering everyone is an asset with this team. I think Patterson suffered a sophomore slump that comes from increased expectations and teams figuring out ways to defend him during the offseason. I expect we’ll see similar returns from Chandler Parsons next year.
I still like Patterson, and I think he can be a solid rotation guy for a contender. I’m sure the Lakers would rather have had him than Jordan Hill. Moreover, his role on offense should be shooting baseline jumpers when teams double-team. The issue is that the Rockets don’t have many players who receive a double team. Until the Rockets get that piece though, Patterson is only really valuable for his trade value.
BD34: I renounced my faith in Patrick Patterson earlier this year because of an increase in production but a decrease in efficiency (Waiting for the collective shock to wear off...). Patterson had a nasty fall and underwent surgery last offseason because he assumed the lockout would go the distance (As did I). I can’t blame the guy for having to play his way back into shape because he assumed greed would win out until the NBA owners folded like lawn chairs on the CBA. I think Patterson at this point is trade bait and positional insurance and he’s going to have pressure on him when Motiejunas comes over. In a perfect world, we draft a guy like Jared Sullinger (if we can’t move up) and that just further cramps the 4.
I think Patterson could be a decent bench guy for any team in the league as his career evolves but I don’t find much utility in his post game. He’s a mid range shooting 4 with the body to be a legitimate bruiser but it doesn’t get used that way (Either by choice or by Houston design) with some good help-side defense but not enough quickness to fend off a decent amount of NBA 4’s.
Patrick Harrel: Patterson is an interesting case. Before the season, most were ready to hand him the starting power forward job on the heels of a solid season playing 16 minutes a game. This year, he flat out sucked. Because of the ankle surgery and the shortened season, I’m inclined to give him some leeway. I expect him to reestablish his value early in the season and draw the same rave reviews we saw last year.
Personally, I wouldn’t trade him. We’ve seen Luis Scola’s serious decline over the last year, and he could be an amnesty candidate. Donatas Motiejunas is coming over and he has some serious promise, but remember that he hasn’t played a single NBA basketball game. Simply put, the Rockets are starting to get desperate for a starting power forward, and I believe Patterson can become that player.
Would you consider this trade deadline a success in total? - Submitted by Twinkilling0303
AK2themax: Yeah, I do. In terms of the deals we knew were on the table, the Rockets did a great job. Getting Marcus Camby and space for Earl Boykins made the Rockets a better team to make a run for the playoffs. And they were making a run until Kyle Lowry came back. But that’s another story entirely.
More important than obtaining those players was trimming the fat. Jordan Hill, Jonny Flynn, and Hasheem Thabeet didn’t have a future with this team. And since McHale was making a run for the playoffs, he couldn’t afford to showcase them (or Terrence Williams). The fact that we got anything back for them (including a first round pick...eventually) was a huge boom for Morey. Finally, it freed up cap room without making the team really suffer, which is rare.
BD34: I wrote up a piece about this and I stand by it today. We flipped some guys who weren’t going to be with the team and picked up some guys to try to make a playoff run. We got a first round pick that we may not see for quite some time (Top 20 protected Mavericks pick) that I consider useless unless next year the Mavericks get their haul of D-Will (If he brings Howard in tow we’ll get that pick). Useless because we’re good at late round value but we don’t need late round value, we need top 10 caliber. We cleared cap space for a summer in which there’s no one to spend it on, though we could trade to take on salary but who on this roster warrants the value of a difference maker even if we take on a bad contract?
I agree with AK that fat was trimmed but that fat was going to come off anyway. None of those players were receiving extensions or had contracts that lasted beyond the year. To me, it’s the ultimate definition of rearranging chairs on the Titanic. We got an ancient (By NBA standards) Camby who tore up ligaments in his hand but I think he’d be useful going forward as a Mutombo guy. The only pick we received was that aforementioned useless pick. I called it at the beginning of the year that this team is an 8th seed or a 14th pick and regardless of the spin we put on it, we’re drafting at 14. The trade deadline did nothing for us long term that we didn’t already have and while viewed in a vacuum of "did we get something for people not in our plans" it was a success, in terms of "did we improve as a franchise going forward?" we did not.
Patrick Harrel: In a word, no. I bet if you asked Daryl Morey the same question, he’d have the same response. Up until the deadline, Morey had his eyes on bigger things, but couldn’t convince Orlando to move Howard after he signed the waiver and couldn’t land Pau Gasol without a star coming back to Los Angeles.
In the end, Morey made two very solid deals, but neither helped steer the Rockets in a direction that they so desperately need. Getting a first round pick for Jordan Hill’s expiring contract was a great value, and the same applies for acquiring Camby for essentially a second rounder.
Still, a mid-20’s pick and a 38 year old center are not going to change much for the future of the Rockets. The Rockets need to and clearly want to do bigger things, but it takes two to tango. We’ll see if they can pull something off this summer (don’t bet on it though).
What kind of impact do you expect to see from Donatas Motiejunas? - Submitted by makinmajik
AK2themax: If you cloned Andrei Kirilenko’s offensive game, threw in a little Mehmet Okur range and lack of defense, then you’d have the Lithuanian Leviathan.
I’m no expert on the Euro leagues. But from the Youtube clips I just watched, Motiejunas is...okay. He’s aggressive yet soft. He’s got a good touch but doesn’t blow you away. Oh, and his defense does not exist in those clips at all. I know everyone loves his rebounding numbers, but when he’s on the court he seems to be the tallest guy out there by a lot. That won’t be the case in the NBA.
So for me, let’s call it cautious optimism. This ain’t Luis Scola 2.0. More likely he’s Mehmet Okur 1.1.
BD34: Mehmet Okur 2.0. He’s a soft big who likes to shoot and succeeds in rebounding in the Euro League by having a little more athleticism and care than some of the other guys. In the NBA, effort gets you a lot but it does not get a soft guy too many boards until he bulks up and mans up. I am always hesitant about EuroLeague for the same reason I am hesitant about high school basketball. You can have one genetic outlier dominate the sport because others aren’t up to par with that breeding stock. I think fans have too much riding on Motiejunas because the Rockets aren’t giving them much to hope on. Motie is going to be abused by the strength in the NBA and I don’t think he’s quick enough to hang with them. I expect him to play the stretch game and at the very best his upside of Andrea Bargnani.
Patrick Harrel: I love watching Donatas Motiejunas play. When I was watching a lot more film on players for the 2011 Draft, there were few players I enjoyed watching than D-Mo. He’s athletic, can slash to the rim with conviction, and loves dunking on people. Still, I think he may be the Rockets’ most overrated source of optimism moving forward.
It’s the classic "the grass is always greener" mentality. Most people haven’t seen enough of Motiejunas, but they hear that he’s 6’11", athletic, and has some offensive skill. All of those are true, but those labeling him as a Dirk or Pau Gasol clone are kidding themselves. His rebounding numbers have improved in the last year, but he’s still going to struggle to rebound, and I don’t know who he’ll be defending at the next level.
At the end of the day, I’ve only seen Motiejunas play a few times so perhaps this is a futile exercise as well, but I just don’t see him becoming anything more than Andrea Bargnani on his best day. He’s a long player with pick-and-pop potential, but let’s relax before we pencil him in for a spot in the frontcourt for the next ten years. I don’t want to make this comparison, but he could very easily go the way of David Andersen if he doesn’t get coached well.
In 25 words or fewer; will this team be able to succeed under "build and compete" guidelines? - Submitted by ehburrus
AK2themax: Yes, but there has to be some serendipity involved. You need two to tango, after all.
BD34: No, it’s destined to fail unless it’s a 25 year plan, then it has a shot.
Patrick Harrel: Perhaps, but it, like any other rebuilding strategy, will take luck and time.