The draft has come and went and all the rumblings that dominated The Dream Shake regarding any big move or Dwight Howard acquisitions limped off out of view. The Rockets tried something awful to get into the top five and had a deal pending for the pick, however, when any deal is contingent on Michael Jordan and the draft, just assume your team is boned. The Rockets then went to the fall back plan and begged the Raptors to take Lowry so they could get into the top 10 but the Raptors decided reaching for Terrence Ross was the cool thing to do.
Thus ended the tale of the Rockets attempting to land a top five pick in the draft. I cannot say it ended the Rockets attempt to get a top 10 pick because I wholeheartedly believe that Jeremy Lamb is a top 10 talent and we got a bit of a steal there. The Rockets made a move later to acquire a second round pick. Join me after the jump to see my impressions on what happened, what is ahead, and this team generally!
Disclaimer: If you’re expecting a hatchet job, it’s really not, it’s mostly disappointment, seeing the picks for what they are, and wondering what this team is going to do.
Houston entered the draft adamant that there wouldn’t three rookies on the roster. We emerged from the draft with three rookies and a rookie stashed abroad! Granted, the season is nowhere near beginning, but the immediate returns indicate that this team’s new MO is failed expectations in a big picture sense. Before you prepare your comment to tell me that the only expectations they failed was media hype, read on and pipe down. Draft night was pumped up to be something major but if we’re going to conveniently ignore how news gets reported then we’re letting everyone off the hook. These reports leak when an organization or agent lets it get out. That means the Houston Rockets were at least semi-involved in setting up these expectations and they failed to deliver on any of it. You can’t force a team to say yes but how long do these talks need to be engaged before you up the ante? All reports indicate the Rockets were on the phones with some of these days for a minimum of three days and none of these offers substantially changed at all? Who the Hell is negotiating at that point? I can pull that sort of bartering off, submit one offer sheet then go take lunch. The Rockets got rid of their starting center to try to orchestrate something and now, like two years ago, we have a gaping hole at center. In one draft we pressed reset to the Chuck Hayes days WITHOUT Chuck Hayes. Let’s address this draft before I add any speculation or conjecture.
12. Jeremy Lamb – A+
Lamb here was tremendous value to me. He was a top ten pick, has great length, smart with the ball, reasonably athletic, a natural scorer, and has the size I covet in a shooting guard. This pick was fantastic and it was what I considered a "best case" scenario pick.
16. Royce White – A -
I have to eat crow here. My friend gave me a bunch of crap about this pick because I wasn’t a White fan. White has top 10 talent but no position I can discern. He can run the floor and has a big body and great ball handling skills but when it’s all said and done, I don’t know if he can back Chandler Parsons without refined skills for the small forward position.
18. Terrence Jones – B+
Another tweener standing at 6’10", some reports saying 6’9", so he was perfect for the Rockets. He’s a leftie, which automatically earns me favor in my book because they tend to be a bit harder to guard because it defies natural instinct to guard the left hand. Unfortunately he falls into that category of "Where the hell do we play him"? If he’s a "stretch four" or a "convert him to three" guy I have the urge to punch children.
53. Furkan Aldemir – C+
It wouldn’t be a Rockets draft if they didn’t follow the disappointment up by picking a guy at a position of need. The Turkish big man was bought from the Clippers with the full intention to keep him abroad for at least a year. As far as I’m concerned, this is a negligible pick because it has no immediate impact on our roster at the one position we need immediate impact at.
So, where does that leave us? The depth chart looks about this (No assumptions of retained players or free agency pick ups)
PG: Kyle Lowry/Shaun Livingston
SG: Kevin Martin/Jeremy Lamb
SF: Chandler Parsons/Royce White (If I’m being kind)
PF: Luis Scola/Patrick Patterson/Donatas Motiejunas/Terrence Jones/Jon Brockman/Jon Leuer
This roster screams trade but when we’ve been logjammed before we all waited for a trade and we were all let down until the trade deadline where we made nominal lateral moves and hailed them as steals. The Rockets need to pull something off in free agency at the center position and it will most likely mean overpaying. Given who Leslie Alexander and Daryl Morey are, I’m not expecting that to happen. Even if we're looking towards trade what's out there? Pau Gasol? Joakim Noah? Luol Deng? Who in the crap out there is worth adding to this squad to make it something more than the 14th pick or roundabout? We're back to square one with the simple question of "What?" best describing the state of the Rockets.
I’ve been clamoring for quite some time for this team to pick a direction and, although it’s unique, I’m unappreciative of the "all power forward starting lineup" direction. Seriously. We have six or seven power forwards on the roster now (Scola, Patterson, (White), Jones, Brockman, Leuer, and Motiejunas).
The greatest gift we got from all of this is that it got us excited for Rockets basketball again. How many of us have been disenfranchised about this team until the lead up here? The possibilities were fantastic. As it stands, the Rockets have three rookies that McHale wasn’t enamored with the idea of and the Rockets have to look to free agency to build this team.
My question and issue though, what the Hell are we building? Plenty of youth on the roster but free agency won’t return plenty of young guys with upside that we need if youth is the route. If we want to compete, this roster isn’t good enough to compete for anything other than a second round appearance and that’s if you add a Pau Gasol for nothing with no mind to roster limitations. So right now, the Rockets are right back where they were several years ago with a free agency class of players who won’t/shouldn’t come to Houston as constructed (Deron Williams, and Kaman) and restricted free agents that will require us willing to burn a good portion of our cap space to acquire them who will most likely be matched (Asik and Hibbert).
My disappointment comes from the fact that Kyle Lowry and Kevin Martin are still Rockets. I can work with Scola but I’d rather see him gone, and I’ve been that way for quite some time. This team needs to quit treading water and either nose-dive or swim. If we are slotted to pick 14 again next season it is the ultimate indictment of Leslie Alexander as an owner and his "plan". It’s also a critical eye pointed at Daryl Morey as well. Morey has shown he can string together a supporting cast but he cannot pull off a deal to get this team on the right track. It takes two to tango and I’m pretty sure Daryl has had his options limited by his boss but all in all, how do you negotiate with a team for three days and fail to sweeten the pot enough at the eleventh hour and have to eat your worst-case scenario of keeping all three middling picks. Further, what is worst-case scenario; perpetual mediocrity or overpaying for a boom or bust guy? In one case you can at least say you tried to break the cycle.