The Houston Rockets were rumored to be trying to trade up into the middle of the lottery for most of the draft process, although over the last few days things shifted and they looked to get up even higher. The common denominator for both of those things? It's a man named Jonas Valanciunas. The Raptors' new center was so coveted by Daryl Morey that, according to Clutch of Clutchfans, he was the trade-up target at No. 2, 3, 4, and 5.
-- The Rockets tried to work a deal for 2, 3, 4, 5 and 6 in an effort to get one specific player. My hunch was the #2 pursuit was to get Kanter, even over Derrick Williams. That was wrong -- it was for Jonas Valanciunas.
-- Brandon Roy all over again? Talked about this before the draft and hearing that was how it played out: Rockets had a scenario in place with Detroit at #8 for Bismack Biyombo and Charlotte swooped in to make the deal with Sacramento at 7 to get Biyombo. Same spots in the draft where the Foye-Roy-Gay issue happened in 2006. Yahoo! had reported Charlotte moved up there to get Tristan Thompson... if that was the case, then obviously Biyombo was next on their list.
-- Apparently the Rockets almost made a deal with the Golden State Warriors for Andris Biedrins tonight, which shocked me (he's owed a lot of $ I believe). I don't know any details beyond that but look for more in the Houston Chronicle from Jonathan Feigen.
Morey just can't buy a break on these trade ups. Missing out on both Valanciunas and Biyombo forced the Rockets to address best player available rather than one that would also fit a need. Still, very interesting to see the inner workings of the draft room. I'll be watching Valanciunas' career unfold with a lot of interest after seeing just how badly the Rockets wanted him.