Five Things The Houston Rockets Should Do With Chris Bosh off The Market
A personalized iPad, and video pleas from Hakeem Olajuwon, George Foreman, and Andre Johnson proved inadequate.
Well, until authorities arrived, arrested the Rockets' general manager, and charged him with several felony counts. The penalties, then, handed down by David Stern would trump the ones the NCAA dropped on USC.
Since Morey does not subscribe to violence or death threats as a means to secure talent, he did all he could do within the law to get Bosh here.
"They dropped off something," Thomas told the Houston Chronicle's Jonathan Feigen.
Those who live here and support the team know Morey did much more than act as a speedy messenger. He poured himself into this project, organized a caravan of Rockets fans to garner some national publicity, and talked tirelessly with Raptors GM Bryan Colangelo about sign-and-trade possibilities.
He wanted Bosh as much as anyone wanted LeBron James or Dwyane Wade. Morey wanted to reel him in to pair him with Yao Ming. He thought the two bigs could form a dominant tandem.
Bosh, for his part, shrugged and decided to do what most thought he would all along. He announced Wednesday morning he would team with Olympic buddy Wade in Miami. ESPN first reported the Heat's free agent coup.
Whether James will join them tonight has become the current national question. He will announce his intentions in an hour-long, ego-filled press conference of absurd proportions.
The decision-day special has sparked such interest that the Chronicle ran a front-page story about it at the top of the fold. James somehow managed to upstage BP and the devastating oil spill that continues to pollute Gulf Coast waters.
Many in Houston will watch, even if there is zero chance his team of choice starts with an "R" and ends with an "S."
I wrote last week that fans should not pout if Bosh spurned the Rockets. Wednesday, he made his "no" official.
Let him go to Miami and prove he can stand up to Pau Gasol as a second option on a title contender.
The Rockets, for their part, must now move on to the less attractive but no less important second option. Even if his coming here was always a longshot, Morey had to try.
Owner Leslie Alexander wanted to further his reputation as a willing and aggressive spender. The Rockets went all-in to get their man and failed when he would not even grant them a real first date.
Morey's all-in plan, thankfully, did not include losing for two straight seasons with a gutted roster and no remorse. Bosh's arrival would not have guaranteed anything more than a bump in ticket sales anyway.
The New York Knicks and others prepared for the "Summer of LeBron" by slashing assets in favor of cap space. Morey prepared for his "Summer of Bosh" by acquiring assets he could use as trade bait or building blocks.
I would take the Rockets' approach any day of the week. Houston will soon pass Chicago as the third largest city in the country. Houston remains the country's energy capital and one of the places people go to get jobs. Houston is a bigger market than Miami.
Bosh's decision, then, had little to do with market size or assets. He could not pass up the chance to play second fiddle to Wade, a one-time NBA champion with a thirst for more rings.
The Rockets were always at the mercy of the teams with cap space, and those teams were merciless.
So, with Bosh gone, what should the Rockets do now?
Here are five suggestions:
1. Re-sign Luis Scola and Kyle Lowry
Morey understandably paused negotiations with his own free agents to pursue Bosh. With the dream scenario crushed by Wednesday's reality check, he must now get the agents for Scola and Lowry back on the phone and tender new contracts that keep them in Houston for the next few seasons.
Most teams say they will match offers for their restricted free agents. Not all of them follow through. This is different.
Alexander has told Morey, per articles from Feigen, that he wants Lowry and Scola back. He will pay "whatever it takes" to retain their services. When the owner gets involved, count on sincerity over hypocrisy.
Scola cannot jump as high as Bosh or do enough with his limited physical gifts to merit the All-Star tag. He does, however, give an All-Star effort in every game. He competes and works as hard as any player in the league.
Those worried that a new contract might allow complacency to set in don't know Scola. Like his fellow countryman Manu Ginobili, he does not know how to not compete. If Rick Adelman told him he would be waived within the week an hour before a game, Scola would play the same as if Adelman told him he would soon net a max contract.
Lowry remains one of the team's three best defenders. He takes charges, draws hard fouls, and reigns in the open court. His desire to land a starting job may sway him to sign elsewhere.
The Rockets better make sure that is the only reason he splits.
2. Get Serious with Brad Miller
Signing the veteran forward will not boost turnstile counts or the number of season ticket holder returns. Bosh would have done that.
Miller can, however, give Adelman some comforting and reliable insurance as a backup to Yao Ming. Some swear by his toughness. Others swear he's softer and more malleable than wet toilet paper.
Most can agree that he gets the most out of his diminishing abilities. At 34, he still has a few more seasons left of useful production.
The Boston Celtics, if they do not secure Jermaine O'Neal, will provide the stiffest competition. He would have to consider playing for a proven champion over a hopeful one.
Still, his ties to and respect for Adelman make him easier to fetch than Bosh. I am one of those poor suckers who watch summer league games in lieu of real NBA competition and have often seen Miller sitting with Rockets coaches in the stands. The TV cameras make it hard to miss.
The Rockets cannot do much better and could do a lot worse than this big guy. It's Miller time in Houston. Belly up.
3. Avoid Overspending on Glorified Scrubs
I do not need to write this, since Morey has demonstrated his philosophy as a GM does not include this popular last or first resort.
Minnesota Timberwolves GM David Kahn blessed us all with another stroke of his not genius when he inked Darko Milicic to a four-year, $20 million deal.
Amir Johnson, Drew Gooden, and a few others snagged ridiculous, exorbitant contracts that bring in to question the sanity and intelligence of the executives who offered them.
After Bosh, the list of available bigs looks a lot less intriguing. Do Zydrunas Ilgauskas and Earl Barron strike your fancy?
The Dallas Mavericks snatched up Brendan Haywood, and Morey isn't about to overspend on David Lee.
The Knicks forward can ball for sure but will not prove worth the steep price New Jersey or some other desperate franchise will pay to lure him.
4. Play the Waiting Game
Morey built up his competitive roster by lurking in the weeds. He picked up several rotation players in the latter parts of the first and second rounds.
When the then Seattle SuperSonics offered up their 31st pick in 2007, he bought it with Alexander's approval and picked Carl Landry.
When he had a chance to get Kevin Martin, the shooting guard he had long coveted, at the last minute, he did so. He had to surrender Landry to get the deal done, but his efforts also landed the Rockets two lottery picks (Jordan Hill and Patrick Patterson) and maybe one or two more if the Knicks continue to stink.
Morey, like most non-Laker employees, did not expect Trevor Ariza would become available. When the forward suddenly did, Morey pounced.
Good things come to those who wait? In Morey's case, yes.
5. Wait a Few Months and Explore the Trade Market
Morey still has all of his assets and can dangle them again in a few months after the free agency dust has settled and a few teams decide to trade players on his radar.
The Rockets pined for Marcin Gortat last summer but did not want to offer the full mid-level or risk losing out on other free agents if they did offer all of it to the Polish forward. Would Magic GM Otis Smith welcome a trade, given that his pricey backup center will share a large piece of the salary pie with free agents Matt Barnes and J.J. Redick, if they return?
Chris Paul and Carmelo Anthony seem likely to stay put, but some lesser forwards and guards could become available if their teams get off to rocky starts.
The wait, then, will have been worth it.
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