Why Rockets GM Rafael Stone deserves both grace and scrutiny for the Hawks trade

Houston Rockets v Portland Trail Blazers
Houston Rockets v Portland Trail Blazers / Steph Chambers/GettyImages
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Why Rafael Stone deserves grace for the Hawks fiasco

It's been well-reported that the Rockets thought they had an agreement in place with Lopez. Meaning they legitimately were led to believe that they had done their job.

They had already agreed on a number, and there have been rumblings that the Rockets made a respectable offer (potentially in the $50 million range), so they didn't anticipate any last minute changes or hic-ups at the ninth hour by either Lopez or his representation.

In their minds, they had secured their target. Parting with Garuba and Washington was simply the cost of doing business. And let's face it: maybe those players become formidable rotational players, but that's likely the most you can hope for from a player selected not only outside of the lottery but also in the 20s.

Neither of these players had shown enough to prove their value and/or worth.

Trading them is something the Rockets would do in a heartbeat if it meant adding the 2021 NBA champion and runner-up Defensive Player of the Year finalist that is Brook Lopez. Unfortunately, Lopez had a change of heart and essentially used the Rockets as a way to get the Bucks to pony up and improve their offer.

In the end, the Bucks paid Lopez $48 million over two years, which they surely did not intend to do initially.

In this regard, the Rockets got played. Which happens. And there will always be the possibility of this.

And this also isn't the first time we've seen this.

This happened to the Rockets during their pursuit of Chris Bosh in 2014, under Daryl Morey, who is viewed as a wizard and one of the best in the business (depending on who you ask).

We can't blame the Rockets for losing out on Lopez. They thought they had a deal and he went back on his word. Plain and simple.

And they wanted to keep their word with the Hawks, because they've made it a point of emphasis to improve their relationships around the league, with executives, agents, players, and teams alike.