It was expected that the Houston Rockets would beat the Portland Trailblazers tonight. After all, the Rockets are now 7-5 against the 5-10 seeds in the Western Conference (excluding themselves at number 8 of course). They owed the Trailblazers one and simply shot the lights out tonight, scoring at will inside and out behind an another all-star performance from James Harden. In order to win the west, however, it is clear that some changes will need to be made. They are 0-9 against the 1-4 seeds.
As the trade deadline approaches, knowing that Daryl Morey has put this team in perfect position to lure an all-star caliber big man, it will be a very interesting two weeks. With the Rockets firing on all cylinders (most of the time) and being one the most exciting teams to watch, there seems to be plenty of interest from players looking for a change of scenery. The only problem is that this team is developing chemistry and if someone is brought in, that chemistry will change. Someone will have to give up minutes.
The Rockets are delightfully drama-free, especially when compared to the Los Angeles Lakers. If another gunman is brought in to help take down those top 4 seeds in the wild west, it is imperative that this team’s chemistry and morale isn’t sacrificed. Bringing in a center like Dwight Howard would obviously demote Omer Asik. Bringing in a power forward like Josh Smith would knock Patrick Patterson, Greg Smith, and Marcus Morris down in the pecking order.
Conundrums like this are why Daryl Morey gets paid the big bucks. Thankfully, I am not the one making these decisions. On a night like tonight, I would be tempted to leave the team be and give everyone a raise with the extra money. However, there are bound to be nights in the near future when we are getting pounded by the San Antonio Spurs that I would take a risk on some prima donna like Howard or Smith.
One factor worth considering is the value of experience. Howard and Smith are both 27 years old. If one of them (or someone similar) is brought in, they would become the second oldest player on the team behind Carlos Delfino at the ancient age of 30. An older brother who is mature and hungry to win it all might be just what Harden and the rest of the rowdy Rockets need. However, it is certain that they do not need a threat to their chemistry and anything close to the locker-room strife of the Lakers. Hopefully the Rockets brain-trust is smarter than me and makes the right move, even if that means making no move at all.