The Rockets should’ve, could’ve and would’ve on Draft Day
If you watched the NBA Draft on Thursday night, odds were you had to wake yourself up on a few different occasions.
There were no mega deals, veterans to new teams or huge surprises. It was just a basic, boring draft. Every year the NBA Draft usually has some sort of spunk, but 2012’s was a snoozer. And one team was especially quiet despite doing everything imaginable to make some noise prior to the draft.
Call me crazy, but weren’t the Houston Rockets supposed to turn themselves into the fantastic franchise they once were in the days of Hakeem Olajuwon? It seemed during the days approaching the draft the Rockets were geared up to do so and had the appropriate arsenal to rebuild in just one offseason. So what happened? Here’s a list of Houston’s mistakes during the NBA Draft and in the short-lived offseason, so far.
• Missing out on Howard
I thought the reason the Rockets made trades for all of these picks was to obtain Dwight Howard. And hell, they probably could’ve had Superman. The only problem was that D12 doesn’t want to play for Houston, which probably spoiled a lot of the team’s plans for this season’s draft.
What boggles my mind is why Howard doesn’t want to play for the Rockets. This is a franchise that once was one of the greatest teams in the NBA and has tried just about everything to regain that image for the past two seasons. Houston can’t, however, because marquee players don’t want to play there for some reason. It seems to me that Houston is a basketball town. The days of Hakeen, Clyde the Glide and Charles Barkey are over, but lately the front office has made valiant efforts to land superstars — more than one.
Last season, the Rockets tried to obtain Pau Gasol and the trade fell through, mainly because NBA commisioner David Stern didn’t want Chris Paul to join the Lakers. So what how did the Rockets respond? They finished out the shortened 2012 campaign, missing the playoffs and decided to aim high, really high this offseason. It started with rumors of the team making a push for Howard and maybe even brining in point guard Deron Williams to build a lethal one-two punch. However, that possible deal quickly died after Howard let it be publicy known that he didn’t want anything to do with Houston, saying if the Orlando Magic did trade him to the Rockets, he wouldn’t resign.
It makes no sense to me. Howard should want to play in Houston. He should want to be paired up with another superstar such as Deron Williams. Hell, there was even rumors that the Rockets would try to acquire Josh Smith from the Atlanta Hawks, so he could team with D-How and make a new version of the Twin Towers. All of these options would seem to leave Howard’s mouth watering. But I guess Superman will stay in Orlando for at least one more season before signing a mega deal with who knows … maybe the Brooklyn Nets.
I think Howard is selfish and stupid for not wanting to play for the Rockets. He would’ve eventually been signed to a max contract and Houston would’ve at least given him one more superstar to play with. Mark my words, though. Houston will nab at least two superstars now that Howard has decided he wants to play elsewhere.
• Giving up?
I really doubt the Rockets gave up on trying to land at least one upper end veteran at the draft. However, once I heard the news that Howard likely wasn’t going to be wearing red next season, I truly thought Houston would focus its attention elsewhere. That clearly didn’t happen — not to say that it still couldn’t. Who knows?
The Rockets may still have a chance at Deron Williams and you know they’ll be making some calls in an attempt to land either Smith, Gasol or even Rudy Gay. Houston has some nice pieces to throw out to other teams looking to unload some hefty contract and they want to get better. I was just extremely surprised that it didn’t happen on draft day, considering the Rockets had three picks in the first round.
Still, don’t be surprised if the Rockets trade players such as Louis Scola, Kyle Lowry or Kevin Martin for a big name. They also might be inclined to dish out some of the newly drafted talent they just brought in. It’s just too bad they weren’t able to draft a big man because it seems that’s what they were gunning for.
• Forward heavy
The Rockets wanted to move up into the top five as badly as the Cleveland Cavaliers want LeBron James back. But despite their best efforts, which included an offer of the No. 16 pick and Lowry to the Sacramento Kings for the No. 5 pick, Houston simply couldn’t move up. If the Rockets would have, I might not be writing this blog today.
Houston wanted UConn big man Andre Drummond really bad. They just couldn’t find a way into the top 10. The Rockets then may have been able to draft Meyers Leonard, but the Portland Trailblazers beat them to the punch by one pick. Portland picking Leonard probably threw a large wrench into Houston’s spokes, so they took arguably the best player on the board, UConn shooting guard Jeremy Lamb. It was an intersting pick and one that I believe was made on the spot. Lamb could be an above average NBA player, but the Rockets are looking for more than that.
After taking Lamb, it seemed like not all was lost for Houston because they had two more selections in the first round. Then they picked Royce White (a player who is afraid to fly) and Kentucky’s Terrence Jones, which gave Houston its seventh player on its roster from the past two drafts — all of which are forwards besides Lamb. What puzzles me is that Houston may have had a shot at North Carolina product Tyler Zeller, who could start at center from day one. I guess he wasn’t that high on their board, so now the Rockets are left with a team chalked full of power forwards and small forwards with no true big man in the middle.
That will be the next chapter in Houston’s offseason book. They need to find a center. The only problem is that there’s not a whole lot available, especially in the free agent market.