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Luis Scola has been really good for Houston – just not good enough to make them matter.
Regular season records 2008-2011: 55-27, 53-29, 42-40, 43-39
Playoff results last four years: 4-2 L first round, 4-2 L West Semis, DNQ, DNQ
Main culprit: Daryl Morey
How they got there: Morey, the Rockets GM, stockpiled enough assets to make his opponents jealous. Then he kept hoarding assets...kept hoarding...and, really, he's still doing it.
Let's face it, Morey is the last guy you'd want to invite to Vegas for a good time.
Case in point: Morey took a flyer on diminutive point guard Aaron Brooks in 2007 and acquired Villanova playmaker Kyle Lowry from Memphis. Brooks flourished in 2009, only to give way to Lowry the past two seasons.
Instead of packaging Brooks with other considerable assets for a legit star (or borderline star), Morey flipped him for Goran Dragic and a late first-round pick.
Lowry went out with a bacterial infection last month, opening the door for Dragic to flourish as a starter. Now, Morey and the coaching staff is left to decide who they would rather have run the point—and what to do with the guy that doesn't.
At this point, both are too valuable for backup minutes, but neither can carry the team beyond middling success.
That just about sums up Houston's problem.
How they can get out: They actually tried during the offseason before David Stern axed the deal that would have landed them Pau Gasol. The deal would have seen the Rockets give up Kevin Martin, Luis Scola and Dragic, a package even more appealing now with Dragic's value now exposed.
Ideally, Morey could fetch a stud with some combination of Lowry/Dragic/Scola/Martin, along with some younger chips (Patrick Patterson? Chandler Parsons? Chase Budinger?).
The question remains the same as the last four years: will it finally happen?