NEW YORK, NY - MARCH 11: Jeremy Lin #17 of the New York Knicks wipes his face against the Philadelphia 76ers at Madison Square Garden on March 11, 2012 in New York City. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Nick Laham/Getty Images)
The Houston Rockets traded the better player - the disgruntled Kyle Lowry - to sign the lesser one in Jeremy Lin.
If you read my article from Tuesday, you know that I'm completely against the Rockets signing Jeremy Lin. However, Daryl Morey's computer program has crunched the numbers and decided that 29 million dollars over four years is the going rate for a turnover prone player with only two weeks worth of quality play in his career. Fortunately for the Rockets, it appears the Knicks will one-up their bad decision by matching the offer. For the most part I've defended Morey as a good GM who has been hamstrung by contracts he inherited and someone who has tried to make the big moves, but just been turned down. However, I just don't understand his line of thinking on this issue. Sure Dragic turned them down and apparently the Kyle Lowry/Kevin McHale relationship was beyond repair, but you can't let frustration play a role in personnel moves.
It's obvious Daryl Morey values Jeremy Lin and his skill level more than I do, but I have to believe part of this decision is their unwillingness (which comes from owner Leslie Alexander) to tank and rebuild the team. Sometimes you have to read the writing on the wall, they've made a valiant effort to acquire a star but they failed and they need to start plan B. The best way to acquire a star and build a team for the longterm is through the draft, and that requires a few losing seasons. I'm not sure why they frown on this idea so much; if you have a competent front office, you can set yourself up for a 5-10 year run with a few years of suffering. Just look at the Thunder (Durant and Westbrook), Bulls (Rose), Spurs (Duncan), Heat (Wade), and Mavericks (Nowitzki), who have all set themselves up for longterm success with high lottery picks. The Rockets themselves have done this throughout their history with Ralph Sampson, Hakeem Olajuwon, and Yao Ming. All most of us want as a fan is to see the team have a plan and execute it. We can handle a few seasons of bad basketball if it eventually leads us somewhere. Watching the Rockets spin their wheels like this, beat their heads against the wall, and waste all of our time is infinitely more frustrating than tanking for a few seasons.
Let's assume that the Knicks will match the Rockets offer soon after Lin signs it on July 11th; what happens next? Right now the Rockets have zero point guards, a couple shooting guards (though there is a good chance Kevin Martin will be moved), approximately two dozen forwards, and zero centers; this won't be their roster going into the season. One player to watch in the summer league is rookie point guard Scott Machado who averaged 9.9 assists last season and surprisingly went undrafted. He's not a starter right now, but he could be a decent reserve and is worth keeping around. After that, the Rockets will continue to be busy in trades and possibly free-agency. Unless they plan on playing Royce White at the point and going with an all-forward lineup; they'll have to make some moves. The top free-agents still available at point guard include Aaron Brooks, Raymond Felton (I assume the Knicks will pass on him if they match with Lin), and Kirk Hinrich. No game-changers, but solid players who I'd be fine with the Rockets signing if they're willing to accept a reasonable deal. Most likely they still have trade plans in mind with their three dozen forwards to move a few of them for a point guard and a center.
It's hard to be patient with this team right now. I believe their plan is flawed and they're doing a poor job at even executing that flawed plan. Morey at this point is assembling assets in hopes that 1+1+1=3 in their pursuit of a super star, but so far other teams haven't wanted three C+ players for one A+ player. It almost seems that Morey and the Rockets are trying to work a strategy that applied to an older NBA. That meaning, players are controlling their own fate much more this nowadays. What the Heat and to a lesser extent the Knicks have done is becoming a trend and players will kick and scream their way to the team they want to play for. Dwight Howard wants to play in Brooklyn and played GM by letting everyone know he'd pout and refuse to sign with any team that traded for him. Sooner or later the Rockets will have to recognize the best way to acquire a star and build a team is to have some level of control over the situation by drafting him and being the only team that can offer him a max contract.
For More On The Rockets, Check Out The Dream Shake