HOUSTON — For the better part of the week, putting All-Star Dwight Howard into the middle of their lineup was the stuff of the Rockets’ dreams.
In the end it was strictly fantasy. A pipe dream.
As the draft approached, general manager Daryl Morey was said to be dealing more than a four-armed casino worker. He sent Chase Budinger to Minnesota to acquire an extra first round pick. Then he shipped Samuel Dalembert to Milwaukee in order to jump up two spots from 14th to 12th.
Those were supposed to be just the first dominos falling as Morey kept inching and climbing his way closer to the top of the lottery selections. Could he get the No. 8 pick from Toronto? The No. 7 from Golden State? The No. 5 from Sacramento? Or even the No. 2 from Charlotte?
Put one or more of those choice selections with a veteran such as Kyle Lowry, Kevin Martin and/or Luis Scola and the idea was to entice Orlando with a nice rebuilding package in exchange for Howard.
So, Magic, how would you like to take your pick among Jeremy Lamb, Royce White and Terrence Jones?
That bag of three kids is what the Rockets were left holding after they couldn’t swing a blockbuster deal and wound up making all of their own.