The 2013 draft is in the books and there is still some deciphering left to do over the battery of trades that took place yesterday. Particularly Atlanta and Dallas have left quite a spider web of interlacing deals and question marks. The Houston Rockets drafted guard Isaiah Canaan with the 34th pick. Despite having perhaps the most Biblical name of anyone drafted (After all, Moses Malone only had one reference) he scouts out like Aaron Brooks in Kyle Lowry's body. A few years ago that was all Rockets fans wanted to avoid the "Who gets traded" conversation between those two. Croes did your preliminary write up and you can read that here. Join me to look at a few questions on the roster and an attempt to encapsulate the big picture.
Canaan is a 6'0" point guard from Murray State with a nice shooting stroke and a capable scorer off the dribble. He has quickness and a scorer's mentality. His highlight reel makes him look impressive but that's what highlight reels are designed to do. He's a pesky defender with some borderline freaky athleticism that will certainly help him in the NBA. Physically he has the strength and body that screams NBA ready.
Where you need to concern yourself on Canaan is the level of competition he faced in college. Damian Lillard did a lot to help downplay concerns over less than stellar competition but there's a stark contrast between where Lillard was picked versus where Canaan was drafted. His assist to turnover ratio creates some problems, even as a scoring point guard. His tenacity on defense will translate to a lot of foul trouble in the NBA game but that's aggression you happily trade for and tame later on.
The tape on Canaan shows a player with a dedicated mind to score and someone who isn't averse to putting the offense on his shoulders. Canaan gives you the agility, shot, and quickness of Aaron Brooks with the strength, defense, and will of Kyle Lowry. If that doesn't sound ideal in a bench or starting point guard I'm convinced you haven't been a Rockets fan for the last 5 years or so. Defensively he shows good instincts and a nose for the ball. He has a wingspan giving him a couple extra inches of reach on both sides of his body that he uses to harass defenders and poke the ball lose.
Overall Canaan is a solid pick that some drafts had projected in the mid to late first round. Analytics helped his downward spiral on draft night due to competition concerns, assist to turnover ratios, and an attempt to translate up the competition he faced in college. Whether or not this is a steal remains to be seen because, let's face it, we're talking late round picks here. We have every right to be excited for our new addition but we didn't select a difference maker. More to the fact, Morey has already emphasized his role is to dominate the D-League.
Let's Step Back
Here's the part where I play the role of a myth buster or even someone who provides some hope. We'll see how it goes but I look forward to a lot of complaints in the comments section for doing this.
Not moving Thomas Robinson wasn't unexpected nor does it mean there's no market for him. The Rockets don't tend to make moves at the draft, last year was an anomaly and generally the Rockets do their damage either before or after the event. Robinson didn't get traded out but we are unaware of the demands being made by other teams or by the Rockets front office. To assume that there is no market for Robinson because of a lack of a deal is to necessarily assume there's no market for a player like Lebron James because he hasn't been dealt. Cleveland assumed the number 1 and 19 pick in a weak draft should land them LaMarcus Aldridge. If they thought so highly of their picks there why wouldn't they ask the Rockets take far less for a raw rookie? The Bulls were reported to seek another trade subsequent to Robinson and that adds a third team to the mix to increase the odds of failure. San Antonio would have needed a third team giving us the same problems. What does this all mean? Well, Morey is supremely confident he can clear the cap space and was nonchalant (As opposed to sullen) after his press conference (Per Feigen). According to Feigen as well the Rockets were hesitant to move Thomas Robinson until it was absolutely necessary to clear cap space anyhow (Which does lend some credibility to the Lin call rumors). So to me, it means that we have 10 days until we hear about where Dwight Howard signed and we have ample time to make things happen between then and now.
Selecting Canaan has no impact on Jeremy Lin's situation with the Rockets. Jeremy Lin has a cap hit of 8.3 million dollars and if he's moved it's most likely in a package deal. If that happens the Rockets need a replacement scoring point guard but currently lack the depth across their roster to justify making any move as such. Morey is on record stating that a third point guard is important (And he has stuck by this for several years) as well as stating explicitly that Canaan's role will be in the D-League. The Rockets always draft best player available, not need. Had they opted for need then Glen Rice Jr. would have been the pick and no one would have thought Chandler Parsons was on the way out. At this point Lin is a victim of his media coverage more so than his play. He's at or slightly below his contract value on the court and he's well above his contract value in marketing and sales (Something you cannot ignore in basketball as much as we like to think it's purely about the game).
The Mavericks didn't really improve their odds to sign Dwight Howard. The Mavericks moved Jared Cunningham and traded down quite a bit but they acquired a first round pick that will count at least $500,000.00 against the cap MORE than the player they shipped to Atlanta. The Mavericks will need to move Shawn Marion's salary in order to acquire Dwight Howard via a straight signing. Right now the Mavericks are sitting at about 13 million dollars in cap space. The Hawks are looking at 11 million in cap room (Unless they go berserk and basically gut the roster, then they have 34 million). Houston has 18 right now. In the race to sign Dwight Howard the magic number is 21 (In addition to a stable roster and potential contender). Houston has the shortest run to go with the easiest path to get there with a roster that is tantalizing to any talent. Rockets fans fretting about losing Howard to any other team are fretting over nothing.
Any reports of Jeremy Lin being shopped are just reports of usual GM activity. General Managers regularly call other teams and ask what they would trade for certain players. It's how market value for a player is gauged and it's par for the course in the NBA. How do you assess the value of any asset in business? You ask people what they would pay for it. The report yesterday that calls are being placed offering Jeremy Lin for cap space are not that plausible simply because teams with cap space won't burn it on Jeremy Lin in an absorbed salary deal, they're waiting on the free agent market that's here and now. Any Lin deal most likely happens after the July 10th deadline Dwight has established for where he's signing so it's not like moving Lin helps that much. Ultimately, reports of Morey extending a call on Lin are just reports of Morey doing what he always does, asking the value of any non-franchise player in order to find out the market for what he has. If Jeremy gets moved subsequent to any of those conversations it's what we lovingly refer to as "Moreyball".
The Rockets can still acquire a player from this year's draft for Thomas Robinson. Teams retain draft rights after the draft and until the player is signed there is no moratorium on moving the player's rights. Teams were active in trading their picks around within the draft last night and the Rockets didn't have a first round pick to participate in that melee. Thomas Robinson can still be swapped for the rights to any of the players drafted yesterday.
If Morey is confident and upbeat, you should be too. If you went into yesterday expecting lightning to strike you wound up getting your own hopes up to be dashed. Daryl has never capitulated to fan's demands or expectations that certain moves be made by certain times. Throughout Daryl's tenure there has been speculation as to who the Rockets are targeting, when, why, and how they could be acquired and then out of left field the roster gets shaken up (Whether it be an 8.9 on the Richter scale or a 1.2 doesn't matter) and you didn't see it coming. The only person you have a right to be upset with at this point in time is yourself for expecting something to have to be done by a certain point. Deals fall through and that's the nature of the business. Morey has expressed confidence that he can get a deal done to clear that last little bit of cap space and if he's confident that he can do it, you should believe in the guy who flipped the 12th pick this year, Jeremy Lamb, and Kevin Martin for James Harden.
So where are we now?
Canaan will get his cuts in the D-League to season and develop. He could dominate the competition and it'll be interesting to see how he fares against comparable players. The Rockets are looking to gauge market value to build the team out if push comes to shove and they have to trade. The Rockets were unable to move up on draft night but have the easiest route to that magical number of 21 for a Dwight Howard signing. I was personally disappointed we couldn't land Gobert on draft night but c'est la vie. Houston is in a position no better or no worse than when it entered draft night with quite a bit of time between now and D-Day for their prized free agent. It's nowhere near time to hit the panic button in Houston. Ultimately the Rockets have come out of last night no worse for wear than they entered it. If you were optimistic about the Rockets before you need to be optimistic today.
Well, there you have it, BD's scouting report on Canaan and a few bits of thought-fodder after last night to help calm you down or put things in perspective. The Rockets are in good shape and there's no reason to be concerned as it stands. As always @QuestionablyBD to tweet mean things to (Healthy note, if you want to make demands on Twitter after being belligerent I'm not cooperative with you), specific questions can go to TDSMailbag@gmail.com and the comments section will be absent of me. Have fun, folks!