Terrence Williams will not justify the means. He is not the end to the process to return the Rockets to prominence. We can be sure of that.
Rather, the means -- prepared to officially accept Terrence Williams into their oft-berated brotherhood come December 15th -- will justify the end. What that end may be, nobody can be certain. By aiding in the construction of a figurative canal ranging from Denver to Brooklyn -- a pathway seemingly fit to transport Carmelo Anthony to the Northeast -- the Rockets have eroded their chances at acquiring a star wing player whom many once thought to be destined for Houston. Now, the end could be Andre Iguodala. However, if the end is Andre Iguodala, it can't really be an end, can it?
In other words, how you choose to react to this trade may shed light on your views of the entire organization as a whole. This trade, this one right here, will test your patience as a Rockets fan.
You may be wondering what my quarrels with the move are, should any exist. On the surface, it appears to be another winner. The Rockets trade away Jermaine Taylor, a player damned to the bench and to Hidalgo, TX, a player fit never to see minutes in Houston, to Sacramento in exchange for the chance to likely grab a player of similar caliber and start all over again, or move the pick in another trade. Alas, this move opened up roster space for the primary deal: the acquisition of New Jersey's Williams, for whom the Rockets relinquished their 2012 lottery protected draft pick. Given the impending lockout, as well as the potential for the 2011 talent drain to leak into 2012, this was a relatively sound decision.
Williams is a curious case for me. In college at Louisville, his talents resided in his versatility. He could pass, he could rebound, he could defend and he could score. But he wasn't exceptional at any of these feats, which begs the question: did Terrence Williams choose to be unselfish and widen his game, or was he forced to do so because he simply wasn't good enough to flatly excel in any one of those areas? I'd rather see a player enter the NBA with the ability to effectively fill a niche or two, rather than a player who will kinda/sorta help you in each focus of the game, but just a little bit.
Actually, I don't mean to downplay Williams' strengths. He is in no way handicapped by a lack of athleticism or basketball skill -- in fact, he has ample, if not exceptional amounts of each. When he puts it all together, or when he suddenly excels in a specific area, he makes you wonder why he wasn't picked higher than eleventh overall. But he's like Jordan Hill, in that for every great game or for every great play, there is a head-shaking, down-to-earth moment that follows. Consistency: a lack thereof is the death of many lottery picks. I don't think Williams or Hill is destined to fail, but as I wrote a few days ago about Anthony Randolph, to be a former lottery pick so quickly jettisoned from one's original team is not to flatter.
Perhaps this trade is simply frustrating. We keep hearing about the Rockets trying to get involved in bigger deals -- Chris Bosh, Melo, etc. -- and yet we are rewarded with expendable New Jersey Nets and Brad Miller. You need not look further than yours truly to find a Rockets fan vested in the 'big picture' philosophy. By that same token, I'm equally vested in the law plainly stating that it is incredibly difficult to acquire a star talent via trade, save the Pau Gasol deal. I hope everyone realizes that, in obtaining Gasol from Memphis, the Lakers pulled off a robbery that won't soon happen again, unfortunately.
I also hope that Daryl Morey realizes the frailty of this method in this day and age. I'm confident he is aware of such, since I am the blogger and he is the talented GM, but these moves keep suggesting otherwise.
Trading for star talent is a pipedream, and if that wasn't apparent before, it was finalized by LeBron James' Decision. Now, players want a say in where they go, and not just in free agency. They want to control trades, too. Carmelo Anthony won't be traded to New Jersey unless he agrees to an extension with the Nets. If he wants to go play with Derrick Rose in Chicago, he'll simply wait until he is a free agent to make that decision.
This move tests my patience and manages to frustrate me, despite its many positives. As many individual trades as Morey has seemingly won -- this one is no different -- the Rockets have yet to translate these wins to the court. The miniature wins are piling up, but the collective, sock-'em-in-the-chest win has yet to materialize. Unless Terrence Williams develops into a game-changing player, what does this give us, exactly? More assets... for what? Did the Rockets make this trade simply because it became available (it does make them a better team right now), or did they make it with a greater purpose in mind? I'd like to believe the latter, but again, this all goes back to my idea that trading for a star is going to be incredibly difficult.
Then again, I'd also like to believe that my knowledge of the inner-workings of the NBA rivals the time equivalent of human existence on Earth: it is much more diminutive and less noteworthy than otherwise perceived.
I may be missing something. No, surely, I am missing something. But I can't help but think that sooner or later, unless a deal is made and unless all of these good-but-not-great players are exchanged for an enviable piece, the Rockets may be spiraling downwards into a black hole constructed from the remnants of everything bad about Yao Ming.
For now, we should accept Terrence Williams and the enormous potential for growth. His current achievements are less than impressive, but perhaps all he needs is a change of scenery and a chance to win more games than he loses. Perhaps he needs a different type of coach, more playing time and a different offense. Perhaps he needs a lot, but if anything, the Rockets are capable of providing plenty to anyone who is willing to take action and finish the job.
So that's what I will do. I'll happily accept the move, for now.