I think it is safe to say that after the dust cleared from the Dwight Howard trade announcement, we were all left waiting for Jonathan Feigen's side of the drama. Well, here it is:
If nothing else, the Rockets might be used to disappointment when it comes to their pursuit of blockbuster deals, but this was different. They were furious when the deal for Pau Gasol was blocked, disappointed when two other near misses for Howard (March 15 and July 11) fell through. This was more mystifying.
Mystifying indeed. The Magic seemingly took a worse deal. You can pin this on one of two things: A) Daryl Morey has lost significant worth as a salesman, or B) Rob Hennigan may have his head in the wrong place. After all, Hennigan did say the Rockets' offer sheets for Jeremy Lin and Omer Asik affected the ability to make a deal, when in reality we all know that they wouldn't. The Rockets still could have taken back one or two bad contracts. Whatever.
Moving along, here's Feigen's version of the Rockets' offer:
The Rockets had tried to position themselves for this opportunity, offering the Toronto pick they got for Kyle Lowry along with a pick from Dallas and were open to adding a pick of their own. They would have sent two players from among Patrick Patterson, Marcus Morris, Donatas Motiejunas, Jeremy Lamb, Royce White and Terrence Jones. And they would have taken back two large Orlando contracts - Hedo Turkoglu and either Chris Duhon or Jason Richardson - without sending back corresponding burdensome contracts to offer the Magic roughly $12 million more in cap room than they have now.
Apparently, acquiring Al Harrington in the twilight of his career is a better tool with which to rebuild than unproven youth. Yes. It then gets worse.
The Magic had seemed to want cap room and picks most, but at some point shifted to seeking a potential star player and decided that Arron Afflalo would be that player, making him the key to the deal.
Realize that in a trade like this, calling anyone coming Orlando's way — especially Afflalo — a "centerpiece" can be a misused term, but if Hennigan preferred the pricey Afflalo over a lightly protected, sure-thing lottery pick, then that's just the way stupid people operate.
That left the Rockets on the outside of the deal, building around their collection of young players and picks while continuing the search.
"We like the players we have," Morey said. "Every move we made, we would have made regardless of this."
Heh. You have to understand how to take certain Morey quotes. In a way, his "honesty" isn't really ever honest, but it's not wrong either. I'm sure Morey likes the players he has, and I'm sure that many of these moves were made on their own — including the amnesty of Scola, made in part to give the younger guys some playing time — but it's tough for me to believe that these moves weren't made strictly to chase Dwight Howard and give the Magic certain pieces that were believed to be to their liking. It's true that the Rockets are now in a perfect position to rebuild after losing out on Howard, but it's tough for me to believe that the Rockets were making these moves with the strict intention of rebuilding.
Luckily, by the way, Feigen answers some of the rebuilding questions that we've been throwing out there. Specifically, if it is going to happen.
They could make a small addition and have been in talks with Carlos Delfino, who had a strong Olympic tournament for Argentina, and to a lesser degree Leandro Barbosa. But in general, they will play the kids - making Luis Scola an amnesty cut was about playing time for all those power forwards as much as for the cap room - and take their lumps while staying in position for the next pursuit of a blockbuster trade.
Next summer's free agent class could have a few big names - Howard, Bynum and Chris Paul - but the Rockets do not appear likely to be in any position to attract that kind of star. The draft will likely be headed by center Nerlens Noel and guard Shabazz Muhammad.
So there it is: The young guys will play, and the Rockets will take their lumps. That's a good start. I don't expect the Rockets to necessarily tank on purpose, but if a trade does not materialize this season, I'm cool with snagging a high lottery pick and going after a big man. Hate to say this, but honestly, I sort of hope the Rockets get injured to hell and stink like we've never seen before. #TeamShabazz.
Q: Where does that leave the Rockets for now?
A: Depending on how the young players, including free agent additions Jeremy Lin and Omer Asik, pan out, the Rockets will likely be among the teams bringing up the rear of the Western Conference.
Have fun this season, Red Rowdies.
Now we know a bit more than we did before. Carry on, 'Shakers.