Wednesday Links: Revisiting The Trevor Ariza Signing

NEW ORLEANS - NOVEMBER 17: Trevor Ariza #1 of the New Orleans Hornets dunks the ball during the game against the Dallas Mavericks at the New Orleans Arena on November 17 2010 in New Orleans Louisiana. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that by downloading and/or using this photograph User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)

In the August and September lulls, we're going to use this space on every Wednesday to revisit a particular Daryl Morey move. First up? The Trevor Ariza signing.

The summer of 2009 was a rough time to be a Rockets fan. The news that Yao's foot wasn't healing properly had just come out, Tracy McGrady was still recovering from microfracture surgery, and Ron Artest was headed out of town.

The "Big Three" that Morey had brought together just one year earlier had now been destroyed in just months. Though the potential for Yao to come back still remained, the Rockets had to turn their attention to planning for the future. With that in mind, they first targeted Marcin Gortat, the backup center for the Magic who flourished in limited minutes behind Dwight Howard.

With Gortat apparently headed to Dallas, the Rockets shifted their focus to Trevor Ariza, a player who figured prominently in the Lakers' playoff run. Having just celebrated his 25th birthday, Ariza seemed like a great target for a squad that may be facing a rebuilding effort if Yao couldn't get healthy again.

And thus, on July 3rd, the Rockets and Ariza came to an agreement on a 5 year, $33 million deal to keep Ariza away from the Cleveland Cavaliers, who desperately wanted Ariza to join LeBron James.

As the season started, it was clear that Ariza wanted to take advantage of this opportunity to become a first or second option on the Rockets. And for about a week, that was exactly what the Rockets needed, as Ariza was shooting well and scoring efficiently.

However, when the shots stopped falling with consistency, Ariza didn't seem to want to change his ways. He continued tossing up ill-advised three pointers, and seemed to get more frustrated by the day. Despite a strong stretch over the last two months of the season, the final numbers weren't pretty: 39% shooting from the field, 33% from three point distance, and 65% from the free throw line. He proved to be a solid defender, but it was clear that he was never going to be a primary option offensively.

With the prospect of being tied down by his contract for four more years scaring Morey, the Rockets looked to trade him the next summer and came out of the deal with Courtney Lee, who had a contract some $4 million lighter and an ego 1/4th the size of Ariza's.

After overpaying Ariza in perhaps the biggest evaluation gaffe of his career, Morey managed to negate that mistake and turn Ariza into a cheap bench player and spot starter in Courtney Lee. So yes, Morey probably shouldn't have signed Ariza to that five year deal, but all's well that ends well.

It's a dangerous game paying premium money for unproven players in free agency, but it was one Morey was willing to play again this year with Jeremy Lin and Omer Asik. Though I doubt Lin will ever be traded, Asik is a guy that could be easily moved to a contender even if he disappoints next year. Two years and $16 million is next to nothing for centers in the NBA, and Morey will have no problem passing Asik off to a team in need of another big man even if his per-minute statistics don't reflect how he plays in big minutes this season.

And if Asik succeeds, the Rockets have found themselves a young center for the future. That's the beauty of signing young players to free agency deals.

Jump for your links!

Rockets Stuff

What Will The Houston Rockets Do With Guard Kevin Martin? | Red94
Rahat Huq discusses the dilemma the Rockets are facing with Kevin Martin's future.

Carlos Delfino Signs with the Houston Rockets - Behind the Buck Pass - A Milwaukee Bucks Fan Site
K L Chouinard with a sort of obituary for Carlos Delfino's Bucks' career. Also, Del3no is now fair game.

Around The League

Spurs, Thunder, Kings Among Teams In The West Hoping That Patience Pays Off | The Point Forward
Zach Lowe continues with his off-season evaluations, with a pair of neighbors mentioned in this one.

One Last Chance For Scalabrine To Persevere | bulls.com
Because Tom wanted to bring up cult heroes this morning.

Report: FIBA To Consider 3-on-3 Basketball For 2016 Olympics - CBSSports.com
This would be absolutely unbelievable. Can you imagine LeBron James with as much space to operate as he would have in a 3-on-3 format?

Stan Van Gundy: Magic Management More To Blame Than Dwight Howard - latimes.com
Former Orlando Magic Coach Stan Van Gundy says he doesn't fault Dwight Howard for wanting to leave the Magic, and discusses the Magic's fall from elite levels with Mark Medina.

Controversies Complicate Sale Of Memphis Grizzlies To Robert Pera - NBA - Sporting News
A number of issues, including some business dealings in Iran, have held up the sale of the Memphis Grizzlies to Robert Pera for the time being, writes Diana Samuels.

Billy King Was Going To Retire As 76ers GM Following Allen Iverson’s ‘Practice’ Presser, But Scotch And Good Sense Stopped him | Ball Don't Lie - Yahoo! Sports
A shocking and pretty spectacular interview between Billy King and the New York Times.

Teenage Wasteland: Shabazz Muhammad Latest Victim Of NBA Age Minimum - SBNation.com
Tom Ziller rips the age minimum rule to shreds in his look at the Shabazz Muhammad situation.

Rockets Video Of The Day

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