Pursuit Of A Star: Houston Rockets On Andrew Bynum's Shortlist

May 8, 2012; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Los Angeles Lakers center Andrew Bynum (17) dunks the ball as Denver Nuggets center JaVale McGee (34) defends during game five of the 2012 Western Conference quarterfinals at the Staples Center. The Nuggets defeated the Lakers 102-99. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee/Image of Sport-US PRESSWIRE

Big Risk, Big Reward with the young center

The Houston Rockets have spent the better part of the last three seasons searching for their replacements to Yao Ming and Tracy McGrady. They went after Chris Bosh, Deron Williams, Carmelo Anthony, Marc Gasol, Dwight Howard, and others but with no success. They've attempted to land a big man in free-agency, via trades, and were even rumored to be trying to move up in this years draft to take UCONN center Andre Drummond. Their efforts have failed, but it hasn't been from a lack of effort; the best players simply haven't been interested in coming to Houston. The reasons for that vary from the profile of the city compared to New York or Miami, to stars wanting to team up with other stars; which the Rockets don't have.

I've long said that the Rockets needed to consider tanking to acquire high draft picks so they can draft their future star and have some level of control over his future with the team; much more than they have in trades or free agency. However, that might not be necessary. According to reports, the Rockets might have a star center fall into their lap next off-season. Andrew Bynum, who I consider the 2nd best center in the league, is said to have Houston on his short list along with the Cleveland Cavaliers and Dallas Mavericks when he becomes a free agent in 2013; that's of course if he doesn't sign an extension with the Lakers.

I'm leaning towards believing the report, it matches up with his rumored unwillingness to sign an extension in Orlando to make a Dwight Howard to the Lakers trade work. If it is true, what are the chances that he'll choose Houston and should the Rockets pull the trigger? They should definitely go for it if Bynum is truly interested, but I have my doubts about him ever wearing a Rockets uniform; I think the Lakers are the favorite. It's the only team Bynum has known since he was 17 years old, and let's not forget that they can offer him roughly 15 million dollars more than any other team. If a trade or free-agent signing doesn't work out with Dwight Howard next off-season, I would jump the Brooklyn Nets up to the top of the list as well; Bynum is from New Jersey.

Either way, I think the Rockets should plan for the future as if Bynum won't be here. As we've seen in the past, putting your eggs all in one basket only to have the basket break, can leave quite a mess. I'm still in favor of tanking to acquire draft picks and hopefully that leads to another future star to team up with Bynum. If everything falls into place and Bynum is willing to sign, it'd be a home run for the Rockets. Yes there would be some risk involved considering his maturity level at times and his injury history, but you have to take a chance on a guy with this much talent at a premier position. Over the last three seasons, Bynum has averaged 15.2 points, 9.8 rebounds, 1.8 blocks, and shot 56% from the field; he'll be 25 when next season starts. Young, talented, and physically imposing; how could you pass him up?

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