HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS — Nothing gets the masses more excited this time of year than the notion of a blockbuster deal-to-be, something the Houston Rockets have mastered the past five years.
And Rockets general manager Daryl Morey is at it again, making moves in successive days leading up to tonight’s Draft, cranking up the speculation that something huge is on the horizon as they continue to climb up the draft board.
What that is, however, remains a mystery.
Dwight Howard‘s name is at the forefront of the rumors. And that’s always a good thing for everyone other than the folks in Orlando (check the video above).
Where this drama goes between now and tonight’s Draft is anyone’s guess, as Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle makes clear:
The Rockets also do not want to stop there in their climb up the draft board, and they do not want to add three rookies to the three players they drafted last season. With that in mind, they have been talking to teams throughout the top 10, especially Sacramento, which holds the fifth pick, and Toronto, which has the eighth pick, about moving up.
To move that much they would have to offer a veteran, rather than a package of picks. Guard Kyle Lowry is considered the most likely player to be moved, in part because of his relatively modest contract. But according to a person involved in the process, Lowry has in recent conversations seemed more open about returning to the Rockets since his comments last month and the team would like to bring him back if he is not the key to a larger deal.
While Magic center Dwight Howard is the Rockets’ top target, the Magic have not specifically said what it would take to get him since trade talks between the teams ended March 15, and have not indicated which player they would want to get in the draft to help facilitate a deal.
The Rockets are also are still interested in a deal for the Lakers’ Pau Gasol, according to a person with knowledge of their planning, but not at the price they would have paid before the season when they agreed to send Kevin Martin, Goran Dragic, Luis Scola and a first-round pick to New Orleans in the three-team deal blocked by commissioner David Stern.
That deal would have cleared additional cap room and the Rockets believed it would have allowed them to sign Nene as a free agent. With that no longer a next step, and Gasol’s window one season shorter, the Rockets still are interested in Gasol, but would not offer as much as they had in December.
While acquiring a centerpiece veteran remains the top priority, several individuals with knowledge of the Rockets’ thinking emphasized that the Rockets have also been aggressively pursuing a top pick to use the themselves, rather than only to facilitate a trade for a top established player.
Morey is no doubt one of the smartest men in his profession and a risk-taker extraordinaire. You don’t make some of the moves he ‘s made in the past five years without knowing the landscape inside out and calculating all of the risks and rewards involved in a potential deal.
But if the Rockets are trying to make a splash this time around, we suggest they go with the established star route. Because all the draft picks in the world aren’t going to make them a playoff team this season, which is the only goal the team should be chasing at this point.