It looks like the Rockets have grown tired of having the best record in the draft lottery every year, being annually the last team not to qualify for the playoffs.
So they’re diving.
They might as well be leaping from an airplane door without a parachute or plummeting to depths that normally require a scuba tank and flippers.
They’ll call it simply modifying the course, staying flexible with contracts and keeping themselves attractive to potential trade partners.
That’s why they let Goran Dragic walk out the door as a free agent. That’s why they traded Kyle Lowry to Toronto for a lottery pick. That’s why they withdrew their qualifying offer to Courtney Lee. Now, they’ve swapped Marcus Camby to the Knicks for a handful of magic beans.
According to ESPNNewYork.com’s Jared Zwerling:
Camby’s contract will be for $13.2 million over three years. The Rockets will receive guard Toney Douglas, center Jerome Jordan, forward Josh Harrellson and second-round picks in 2014 and 2015, according to a league source.
The deal cannot be finalized until July 11.
Camby appeared to be narrowing his choices down to the Knicks, Miami Heat and Brooklyn Nets. But after postponing a meeting with the Heat on Saturday because they used their mid-level exception on Ray Allen, the Knicks were in the lead. The Nets only had a conference call with Camby, while the Knicks had a face-to-face meeting with him in Houston on Sunday, which a source close to the situation said was “very positive.”
Camby returns to New York, where he played from 1998 to 2002. He was the starting center on the 1999 team that went to the NBA Finals against the San Antonio Spurs.
Now the Knicks will arguably have the best big man one-two punch with 2012 Defensive Player of the Year Tyson Chandler starting and Camby, who won the award in 2007, backing him up.
A few days before the June 28 Draft, the Rockets were the talk of the NBA as they made a frantic bid with Orlando to acquire All-Star center Dwight Howard, even without a guarantee that he would sign a long-term contract.
Now as that possibility seems to fade by the minute with the word of the four-team deal growing closer between Orlando, Brooklyn, Cleveland and the L.A. Clippers, it appears the Rockets have changed direction — to straight down. When Lee chooses another team, the Rockets will have only Luis Scola and Kevin Martin left as players in their regular rotation from last season. Six non-guaranteed contracts are said to be assets for possible deals.
But after resisting the temptation to rebuild by tanking for a high lottery pick and finishing in the middle of the pack — an unrewarding 42-40, 43-39 and 34-32 three seasons in a row — it seems more likely the Rockets have seen the light.
The Warriors stepped over the cliff and got themselves Harrison Barnes with the No. 7 pick in the Draft. The Hornets walked the plank and were rewarded with the No. 1 pick and Anthony Davis.
It would seem the Rockets are getting with the program to play a whole different game. Fittingly, in an Olympic year, it’s a gold medal-type effort worthy of Greg Louganis.