The State of Play - Rockets Offseason 7/16/14

Mike Stobe

Wherein your Beloved Writer expounds on The Current Situation as of July 16th.

Hello Discerning Rocket Fan, have you missed me?  Well, I've missed you just as much!

This is an excellent time to break out Semi Bullet Points

(The Lazy Man's Friend (tm)).

The DeBoshacle

So we got a painful taste of just why a generation of Ontarians hate Chris Bosh.  Because he does things like that. Consistently.  That's who he is, he beats his own...drum.  Remember, the whole Miami Superteam thing was famously shady as well, at least in terms of NBA rules.

Frankly I can't blame a 30 year old player for taking $118 million for what will likely amount to five years of decline. I was prepared to be happy for the Rockets making him a similar, but shorter, offer because he was going to reprise his famous Lavishly Paid Third Wheel role that saw him perform (unevenly) in four straight NBA Finals.

Still, the value of that third wheel act has declined each year, more or less.  The trend is not his friend, or Miami's ,nor would it have been Houston's. For two years it was likely worth it anyhow.  I've never thought that Chris Bosh was a player who actually liked basketball all that much, but took his job seriously as a means to an end.  A joyless, talented, unreliable, professional in the Jeff Kent mould, then.

Zach Lowe can intimate all he wants about the "serious basketball craft" in Miami or whatever, but come on, Zach, it's the money. It's Chris Bosh,and  he took less to come to Miami and ride the coattails of Lebron James, and Wade than he would have gotten in Toronto, (or Houston for that matter).  Now he's getting the money that others would have paid him, only he's getting it four years later, at 30, with two rings.  Whatever Chris Bosh cared enough to prove, he's proven it. He's getting paid the maxiest of maxes all the way now, and he's not just a hired gun, or a coattail rider! Nossir, he no third wheel now! He's the anchor that will carry the Miami Heat down, down, down into the waters off the Florida Keys.  It will be memorable, but Miami is still a playoff team in The Training Wheels Conference, of course.

The Pain of Parsimony

When Bosh Boshed us, when Chris was Like a Bosh, etc, there was no way to keep Chandler Parsons.  Mark Cuban & Co carefully crafted a crap sandwich for Houston to consume. Houston would have made a meal of that crusty comestible if Bosh had signed.  Since he didn't, Houston would be left with locking up a roster with a team that did not advance in the first round, and further lacked a financial or trade route to address its problems.  I hate that this is the way things went, but BD has covered it all very well here.

Now, let's take a moment to reflect on the positives.  Chandler Parsons may now truly be in his spiritual home: Highland Park, Texas.  As much as I like Parsons, I have to admit, Chandler Does The Bubble seems right somehow. He's all set to Metroplex it, so I'd prefer not to hear him complain about his $45 million payday when it is likely that only both he, AND the Rockets could have made his jackpot possible.

An aside to Chandler Parsons, (who loves to read TDS) - Chandler, you and the agent who got your RFA status played hardball, and you got your money.  That's why you signed him, that's the game, and he delivered for you. You also learned where the line was drawn, and didn't like it.  Well, as Charles DeGaulle is famous for saying "The graveyards are full of indispensable men." Friends don't make friends eat trade kickers, Chandler. Remember, no NBA player has ever once slacked off  after he got a contract that set him up for life. So hush up and get yourself over to Hillcrest and McFarlin, you'll like what you see.

What's more, and perhaps better, Mark Cuban is pretty clearly set to vicariously live out a very specific fantasy life that was previously unavailable to him through the stolid Dirk Nowitzki,  Honestly, who cares about the rest, as long as the NBA's Reigning King Narcissist Owner is happy?  I'm truly looking forward to more "Mark & Chandler Moments" at various clubs and hotspots around Dallas.  You've got a billionaire wingman, now, CP!

Lin, Asik, & The Wailing & Gnashing of Teeth

The only reason to conflate Jeremy Lin and Omer Asik departing town with The DeBoshacle, and The Pain of Parsimony is that the decks had to be cleared for the Bosh-to-Parsons Spending Fest that never took place. It was a timing issue, and that may have pressured the Rockets into a worse position, but timing wasn't in Houston's control.

Omer Asik was gone no matter what.  You don't stage a 2/3rds of a season Sick Out and return to the same place, and the same role that inspired SulkFest '13.  Anyone acting like there was any course of events that did not lead to Asik leaving is, in my estimation, delusional.  So a 1 year deal, at over $8 million in cap dollars, and over $15million in actual money got moved for a first round pick in Asik's case, to a team not exactly rolling in the cash,  too.

In Lin's case the first rounder had to go the other way so a team with both cap room, and real money, to burn would take Jeremy Lin's deal. Consider, though that the Chicago Bulls traded two picks to make a much smaller bad deal go away.  The pick is likely mid 20s,and that hurts, but the Rockets got another for Asik.

Lin is a player I both like and admire, but let's be honest, if there was sustained Linsanity there to be unleashed, the Rockets would have happily unleashed it.  They needed it, and they pretty much never got it. The cynical can even say the Rockets would want better performance  for no other reason than to raise Lin's trade value.  That said, I think he's going to do pretty well in LA.  It's likely that Kobe Bryant is toast, perhaps burnt toast, and who else is there? Swaggy P & Tigger should be interesting.  I think making Lin a number one option could produce results that would seem to make Houston look bad, but really don't. That role, and that usage, isn't really open in Houston.

On a personal note, I hope that many of our 'Shakers who followed Lin to Houston will stick around with the Rockets and us even without Lin.  Lin or no Lin, the Rockets are a fascinating and fun team to follow, and we hope that those posters we've come to know and love will stay here.  For a (very few) others, well, Hooray for Hollywood.

In the end it is tough to weep about losing depth that won't actually play basketball games for the Rockets, or can't thrive in a supporting role.

The Passion of Dork Elvis

This has been brutally amazing. It seems that the whole blogosphere, interwebs, social media, and sports media in general have truly enjoyed this painful sequence of events for the Rockets.  The Smart Guy Has Been Humbled!  Not so smart now, are you Daryl Morey?  Ho ho ho!  Also, we the mob, have decided we don't like the two stars you do have!  So now where are you, Mr. Moneyballpants?

Meanwhile, back in the world of cause-and-effect, Chris Bosh took a panicked max offer from Pat Riley. Yes, the same invincible Pat Riley whose franchise player went home despite Riley's lauded "game" and the fact that he "wins" every single meeting, even with his hair stylist.  So that proves Morey's an idiot, and not that Chris Bosh likes money more than he likes Texas or being thought of as a perpetual mercenary third wheel.  Daryl Morey, not Pat Riley, is the failing GM here, obviously.

Still ignoring that actions beyond their control play a role in the Rockets' decisions, let's crow about Chandler Parsons signing a deal that Donny Nelson (merely the GM of the Mavericks) called an overpayment. What a buffoon you are, Daryl!  You signed Trevor Ariza instead!  He's old!  Parsons is younger, prettier, and twice as expensive, so he's much better!  (3 years younger than Ariza, and actually Parsons wasn't better last year. Ariza's deal money goes down while the cap should go up, and the Rockets got a trade exception out of it.  Never mind.)

The Rockets don't have Lin or Asik! Despite the unreliable availability of either last season, the Rockets are sunk. Never mind that the Rockets didn't actually want Lin, and Asik sulked for 2/3rds a season and wouldn't play until he realized he needed to play to get moved out of town.  Let's pretend we don't know any of that.  You lost depth (that you sort of didn't have anyway) Morey!

Let's also collectively pretend that we don't know that Lin and Asik were signed to be centerpieces of the team in roles that were utterly superseded by James Harden and Dwight Howard. Foolish signings, both.

Whilst rejoicing in this Rocket Roster Crisis, let's not call to mind that Morey has shown an ability to pull NBA regulars out of the second round (Carl Landry, Chase Budinger, Chandler Parsons, and lately Isaiah Canaan and Nick Johnson (I hope)), and off unsigned free agency (Patrick Beverley et al).

It would be counter-productive to mention that there are (I think) more Rockets or former Rockets playing signifiant roles around the NBA than ex-players from any other team.  Yes, that spells roster churn, and it means Morey is obviously a clown. Please ignore that was all to a purpose, and paid off handsomely. Ex-Rockets are regulars, starters, and even stars, now, around the league.  This would seem to speak well for the talent evaluation process in Houston if Daryl Morey wasn't so clearly a cretin, James Harden played more defense, and Dwight Howard hadn't rejected Los Angeles.

So Is this offseason a huge mistake for Morey, or the greatest mistake made by a man, ever, in history?  Well, in the sense that you can call any risk that doesn't pan out a mistake, I suppose it must be the worst thing that has ever happened in the NBA.

It is annoying that the Rockets try to get maximum value, all the time. They try to get better, and they try to win, no matter who is on the roster.  The Rockets don't punt seasons, and they don't tank.  This is revolting, when one considers all the talk and speculation about high lottery picks that is simply wasted when it comes to the Rockets.

Like the value investors they are, the Rockets stubbornly stick to their approach, even when the narrative is against it. The process that brought James Harden, Dwight Howard, and(I'm pretty sure) the most players with a team in common on their resumes (besides Kentucky) in the NBA, remains monotonously consistent.  Sometimes the breaks don't break for them, but the despicable Rockets play for big stakes, unlike so many teams that have the good sense to do consistently worse.   We've seen it before, and sadly, we'll probably see it again from the stupidest failure in the annals NBA General Managers, Daryl Morey.

Next - Quo Vadis?

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