Houston Rockets: Their Pursuit of Dwight Howard Was Destined to Fail

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Houston Rockets: Their Pursuit of Dwight Howard Was Destined to Fail
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Everyone needs a dream.

Madonna dreamed of becoming a cross-cultural pop icon, Martin Luther King dreamed of a colorblind world, and Kobe Bryant surely dreams of matching Jordan’s six rings.  

If you are the Houston Rockets GM Daryl Morey, you dream about Superman.

But the object of Daryl’s dreams lives in Orlando, not in the mythical Metropolis. In the end, the MIT graduate who guides the Rocket’s fortunes was as likely to land Clark Kent as Dwight Howard

Clutch Fans here in Houston will ask: Didn't Daryl almost pry him out of Orlando’s hands before the 2012 trade deadline? Yet, Dwight decided to commit to another year with the Magic. At least on paper, that is.  

Why? Between Jay-Z’s hip-hop cred, Mikhail Prokhorov’s money, and buddy Deron William's presence, he has fallen for the recently relocated Brooklyn Nets. Howard seems prepared to hold the league hostage until he gets his wish.  

All of Morey’s machinations to turn three mid-round draft choices into an attractive package were never going to work and he knew it. Daryl must be educated enough to comprehend NBA history in addition to sports analytics.  

For all the player movement in the NBA, the top stars are almost always traded to the marquee franchises. These are the Celtics, Knicks, Heat, and Lakers. Now that they have moved across the Hudson River, the Nets may get to share in the glamour that belonged to the Knicks alone. 

Shaq to Miami, Garnett and Allen to Boston, Amare and Carmelo to New York, and The Decision offer further proof of this reality. Chris Paul to the Clippers? Not a real trade, just the latest exercise of the despotic hand that David Stern uses to rule professional basketball in America. 

Houston is a nice city, and it has grown and matured in the over 30 years.

I have lived here. But it fails to meet any reasonable standard for being a destination city. This applies whether you are a tourist or an NBA free agent. 

There has been a rare exception in the last decade. One that Morey and Houston fans will never forget: the transaction responsible for bringing Tracy McGrady from Orlando to the Bayou City. 

That’s right, T Mac/She Mac is probably the most reviled athlete in the city’s history. He approved the deal in 2004 so that he could team up with Yao Ming and take his career beyond just leading the league in scoring. 

Yao came to Houston by the luck of the draw. The Rockets made the most of their 8.9% chance of landing the top pick. However, their anticipated success was never achieved. 

Still, this demonstrates that the only path to relevance involves getting at least one superstar, so that you can attract another. History also reveals that most championships are won with at least two Hall-of-Fame-caliber players on the roster. 

The latest example of the perpetual lack of balance in the NBA is the pairing of Steve Nash with Kobe Bryant. The best assist artist around went to the team with the least cap space going into the free agency.  

Is the system rigged to favor a handful of franchises, more specifically, those willing to pay the highest luxury tax? If so, it is therefore no surprise that the top-three luxury spenders in the 2011-12 season were the Lakers, the Celtics and the Heat. 

It might be reassuring to Daryl Morey that the Oklahoma City Thunder made it to the NBA Finals with a payroll ranked 21st overall. Now all he has to do is turn his 2012 draft choices Jeremy Lamb, Royce White, and Terrence Jones into the equivalent of Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook, and James Harden. 

I’m afraid that his Superman dream is more likely to come true before that comes to pass.

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