By: Ramzy Kawaja
I’m just glad it’s over and done with. A clear and fogless path has been paved and the Rockets have finally unwedged themselves from the claws of mediocrity. Although the losing won’t be very enjoyable, the stockpiling of lottery balls will be fun to count as the Rockets will look to build a champion through the NBA draft. Knowing Daryl Morey, the extra pick acquired from the Raptors, for Kyle Lowry, will be used as a bargaining chip for a proven player or to move up in the Draft.
For many “Red Nation” fans, this was an opportunity lost to get a superstar. But, in my opinion, Dwight Howard would have turned the Toyota Center into a set of “As The World Turns.” For the young players that would have survived the trade with Orlando, it would have been a disaster for their development. The attention that is attached to a player of Howard’s status could’ve birthed a huge distraction next season. Is he staying? Is he leaving? Is he happy with his coach? The Houston Rockets franchise, since I’ve been following them, has done a good job of distancing itself from such diva players. I don’t care how good the players are. A weak locker room will always trump talent.
Think of the blow the Rockets would’ve had to endure if/when Howard chose to re-sign with another team after his contract was up. There goes two talented yougsters and two or more first-rounders down the toilet, and, depending on which bad contracts the Rockets were willing to take on, wasted money to get full on. How many losing years would it have taken to recover from that? Why risk turning into the Charlotte Bobcats for a player who has clearly exhibited an inability to make a mature decision and confidently back it?
Once again, the General Manager will get criticized for not reeling in the big one. There’s only so much a man can do. Not only did Morey use his only amnesty on the most popular Rocket, he turned over nearly the entire roster to try and make the trade work, all while signing a pair of resticted free-agents who were thought to be a lock to return to their original teams. How many GMs can lose two borderline all-star point-guards in the same offseason and replace them with another one? It took unprecedented manuevering from Morey to fill the two huge needs at center and point guard. To use a poker analogy, Daryl Morey went all in but Orlando’s GM, Rob Hennigan, didn’t call. At least Morey set it up so that no matter what Dwight Howard decided to do, the Rockets were going in some sort of direction. Either a risky “win now” situation or a comfortable rebuilding process.