The Sixth Man: Dark days in Houston
In no-limit poker if you have an excellent hand, going all-in is the best way
to win the maximum number of chips available or to scare off mediocre players
who lack confidence in their own hands. Of course if you have a bad hand,
sliding all those chips to the middle of the table means you are bluffing and
if someone has the testicular fortitude to call you on it, you're busted.
In the NBA Rockets general manager Daryl Morey came into this offseason with a
bold plan to acquire assets in an effort to lure a top-tier center, think
Dwight Howard or Andrew Bynum, to South Texas. He went all-in and now he's
busted, at least for 2012-13.
When the Lakers pulled off the blockbuster to acquire D-12 earlier this month,
a trade that also sent Bynum to Philadelphia, Morey was left with a major
rebuilding project on his hands.
For now Morey is counting on two restricted free agents he had to drastically
overpay in order to acquire — former Chicago backup center Omer Asik and ex-
Knicks point guard Jeremy Lin.
"I think our goal for this year … is we fight for a playoff spot, even
though it's one of the most challenging years to do that," Morey recently told
NBA.com. "The West is strong and if we were to make the playoffs, it means a
lot of good things will have happened. Namely Jeremy Lin, Omer Asik or
somebody else emerges to become an All-Star."
It better be somebody else since most scouts can't imagine Asik or Lin ever
developing into consistent All-Star-level players.
Asik has proven to be a physical presence and solid defender during limited
minutes in the Windy City but his only value at the offensive end has been
setting teeth-chattering picks. Yao Ming he's not.
Meanwhile, Lin may have given Manhattan a serious case of Linsanity last
season but he is probably more hype than substance at this point. In fact it's
hard to make the argument that Lin is a better option at point guard than
either Goran Dragic or Kyle Lowry, two floor leaders who left Houston in the
"I think that's a stretch goal," Morey admitted when talking about Asik and
Lin blossoming into All-Stars. "But were not going to go into the year saying
we're not going fight. Along the way we'll keep trying to take advantage of
every opportunity to make moves that will make us better."
To be fair Morey has put the Rockets into a position to acquire a big fish. He
currently has the Holy Trinity every general manager craves, cap space, draft
picks and young talent, including three first round picks from June's draft
(Jeremy Lamb, Royce White and Terrence Jones).
That said being ready to pull the trigger when a top talent becomes available
doesn't necessarily mean you're on the verge of getting it done. Sports
Illustrated reported that many in Orlando's organization, including general
manager Rob Hennigan, preferred Houston's proposal for Howard over the
eventual four-team deal that landed the All-Star in Los Angeles. Magic team
president Alex Martins overruled his underlings, however.
So having the wherewithal to add a franchise player means little to the fans
in Space City, who just watched the Rockets miss the playoffs for the a third
Morey is still highly-regarded in NBA circles and his Plan A (acquiring
Howard) and Plan B (snaring Bynum) were likely only the tip of an iceberg
which has many contingencies. Whether he will be around to complete his vision
in Houston, however, is now up for debate.
The NBA is a results oriented business and too many "incompletes" on your
report card is just another way to spell failure.
- Grizzlies’ Allen fined for flopping
- Pacers try to regroup for Game 2 of East Finals
- Nothin’ but Net: To Hibbert, or not to Hibbert
- James, Durant headline All-NBA First Team
- James beats the buzzer in OT as Heat take Game 1
- Spurs hold off Grizzlies in OT
- Cavs win lottery for 2nd time in 3 years
- Bobcats formally apply to change back to Hornets
- Del Negro out as Clippers coach
- Nothin’ but Net: Making sense of the lottery