The lights have dimmed. The audience is oozing with anticipation as they await the latest eye-opening trick from the great magician, Master Morey. As an off-season ago would prove, you can’t blink or you’ll miss it. In one fail swoop, Daryl Morey pressed a button that the entire Houston Rockets roster fell through only to pull back the sheet and unveil a brand new one. No other general manager would have dreamed of pulling off a stunt like this, taking a team that had missed the playoffs three years in a row to a team that was challenging for the sixth spot of the western conference on the final day of the regular season. Not only that but Morey managed to pull off the greatest heist of the pre-season. He handed over an over-paid veteran (Kevin Martin), a rookie who didn’t sniff the court (Jeremy Lamb), and what turned out to be the 12th pick in the upcoming draft that has been projected to be a weak field, for a 23 year old all-star who came in fifth in the league in scoring, James Harden. You have my permission to stand up and applaud if you’d like. After pushing the Oklahoma City Thunder to an exhilarating six games, expectations, for the first time in a long time in Houston, are sky-high.
As if every off-season isn’t already a spectacle around these parts, Morey’s encore performance has become one of the most anticipated ones in the history of the franchise. “What will he do next?” seems to be the most popular question among the citizens residing in Houston. Over-loaded with enough ammo to make WWE pyrotechnics look like a sewer-water soaked Blackcat, there’s no reason not to assume that the sparks will fly as Morey takes this off-season by the hand. Only instead of flowers and candy it’s an endless amount of cap-room and a young, exciting team. Not to mention beautiful weather and no state-income tax.
Apr 28, 2013; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Los Angeles Lakers center Dwight Howard (12) handles the ball against San Antonio Spurs power forward Aron Baynes (16) in game four of the first round of the 2013 NBA playoffs at the Staples Center. Mandatory Credit: Richard Mackson-USA TODAY Sports
Although it sounds like a walk-off hit, it’s not. Even though the perks are piled up, the free-agent that the Rockets general manager will be looking to woo the most is a bit on the ditsy side. Dwight Howard’s torn labrum might force him to covet the extra year, for a feeling of security, that only the Los Angeles Lakers can offer him. But a rumor had surfaced that the soon-to-be sought after center lost more than a few million during his stint in Orlando by letting a close family member handle his money. Couple that with the fact that California’s state-income tax is on the rise and Morey’s seduction may become irresistible.
Howard isn’t the only free-agent in Morey’s scope. Above average power-forwards like Al Jefferson, David West, and Josh Smith are also looking to better their career’s with a fresh new relationship. I’ve compiled a list of other players who will be available and categorized them as restricted or unrestricted:
Al Jefferson (UR) Avery Bradley (R)
Josh Smith (UR), Nikola Pecovic (R)
Nate Robinson (UR) Byron Mullens (R)
Elton Brand (UR) Eric Bledsoe (R)
Andre Iguodala (UR)
David West (UR)
Jarrett Jack (UR)Paul Millsap (UR)
Any one of these borderline all-stars would help the Rockets get to a level that it hadn’t been at in quite some time. It’s up to “Magic Morey” and his unique brand of analytics to compile the pieces that fit the best and try to get his team treading in that upward stream he had already started last year.