Would you trade Kyle Lowry for Chris Paul at this point in time?
I know this might seem like a point-of-view colored with Paul scoring 0 points against the Grizzlies last night, but the answer might be a little more complex than you think. Even despite playing amazing basketball down the stretch, Lowry is obviously not on par with Paul's statistical record. However, Paul's injury history would be a pretty big concern for any player the Rockets would potentially bring in, let alone a franchise superstar. We all saw how the Yao Ming situation worked out and is still working out, does bringing in another franchise player who has to have his knee drained every other week just to play basketball pain-free make any sense?
Keep in mind, also, that Lowry's contract extension is set to become one of the biggest bargains in the NBA should he continue playing like he did near the end of this season. Three years and $18 million for a top-shelf point guard, if not necessarily an elite one, is a building-block quality asset.
The fact that I'm sitting here debating this is a very good sign for the Rockets near-term plans. If the key to building a really good team is to get young players with exploitable contracts, the Rockets just got one without even having to land a top draft pick. Lowry's late season run, where he averaged 16.8 PPG, 7.3 APG, and 4.5 RPG after the All-Star Break while adding the three-point shot to his arsenal and boosting his field-goal percentage, was an incredible stroke of good fortune for the Rockets. At just 25 years old, there's every reason to believe that Lowry will be a high-quality point guard throughout the life of his contract.
Between Lowry, Kevin Martin, Courtney Lee, Chase Budinger, and Goran Dragic, the Rockets have assembled a nice core of guards that complement each others strengths and weaknesses very well. Dragic and Budinger have the scoring punch to carry the team when a key contributor has an off-night, Lee and Lowry combine lockdown defense with efficient offense, and Martin is one of the best scorers in the NBA.
Do you shake that tree to get a big man superstar? Probably. The Rockets still have a ton of unrealized assets--six first round picks in the next three years, not to mention a number of projects that need playing time to realize their potential like Jordan Hill and Terrence Williams. As much as the Rockets would like to believe in Yao Ming, there's no reason to count on him at this point.
But with the old wave of superstars all settled into their new homes, Houston may look at the upcoming free-agent-to-be stars like Deron Williams and Paul, only to see that they aren't much of an upgrade from their current situation with Lowry. Especially if they have to surrender players like Patrick Patterson or picks just for the privilege. Dwight Howard? Well, there's one name that works. Good luck with that one, Morey.