Congrats to everyone for getting on this story so quickly. The Houston Chronicle reported this around 7:15PM Tuesday and there have already been a few articles written about it. Here are six reasons not to get caught up in the hype:
- The Hornets are still the class of the division, as they proved last year. Paul is still very young, and the other teams in the Southwest are old—and getting older.
- The Lakers will still be favorites for the Western Conference championship. They will get Bynum back, which should make them better than this year with just Kobe and Pau.
- Battier has become redundant. Houston now has two of the best three or four on-ball defenders in the NBA. Both match up well with shooting guards and small forwards, but neither can match up with point guards or larger forwards. Not many teams have scoring threats at both the two guard and the small forward. Battier has been underrated as a defender, but Artest is a definite upgrade on the offensive end.
- Ron Artest carries a lot of baggage. Probably the most baggage of any player in the NBA. He's been known to put other priorities in front of playing. He also hasn't been overly vocal about his desire for a championship. Artest is one of the more competitive players in the league—but if the Rockets start slow again, will he be able to keep the fire?
- Donte Green looks to be an exciting prospect. Green seems to be oversized for the position he is most suited (SF), but put up some crazy numbers in his first summer league game.
- The Rockets also had to give up their 2009 first-round pick. This isn't a big deal if the Rockets win a championship this year. Even if they get out of the first round, it's probably worth it. Yet, at some point, the Rockets will have to give up on McGrady's back and Yao's feet. Hopefully this won't put them farther back when they do.
The Rockets took a chance on the present with the Ron Artest trade. This appears to make them more competitive in the short term, which is probably the right horizon when considering McGrady and Yao's injury problems. This move should help the Rockets win a first round series, but it might be a little early to print the Rockets' "2009 NBA Champion" shirts.