Tag: Dwight Howard

D.J. Augustin, Patrick Beverley

Daryl Morey says Rockets more likely to re-sign their own free agents than land a big name


In the last two offseasons, the Rockets have been major players in free agency. All indications from Daryl Morey are that that’s not going to be the case this year. In 2013, Houston landed the biggest free agent of the summer in Dwight Howard. Last year, they made a pitch to Carmelo Anthony and came close to luring Chris Bosh away from Miami, before the Heat came through with a max contract offer. Now, even with such names as Kevin Love and LaMarcus Aldridge on the market, Morey seems more focused on re-signing the Rockets’ own players who are due for new deals than adding another star.

From Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle:

The Rockets are “probably likely” to stick with their plan to remain above the salary cap and spend the free-agency period putting the band back together by signing many, if not all, of their five free agents.

Morey did say there are “possible opportunities we have to explore that are bigger. But I think they’re unlikely.”

Those unlikely “possible opportunities” are enough for the Rockets to do some big-game hunting when free-agent season opens Wednesday, but without the confidence of the past two summers.

This summer’s top free-agent targets – big men LaMarcus Aldridge and Kevin Love – are considered much greater long shots than the top players of the past two offseasons that had the Rockets in the middle of the annual free-agent frenzy.

The Rockets will have five players to make decisions on this summer: restricted free agents Patrick Beverley and K.J. McDaniels, and unrestricted free agents Josh Smith, Corey Brewer and Jason Terry. Beverley and Smith are the two most likely players to be priorities. Beverley missed the last two weeks of the regular season and the entire postseason with torn ligaments in his left wrist, but he should be healthy by training camp and he’s been a defensive pest for Houston the last three years. He should be due for a significant raise over the $915,000 he made this season — probably something north of $10 million annually.

Smith resurrected his career in Houston after a catastrophic year-plus in Detroit, learning to play to his strengths as a solid defender and around-the-basket finisher and complimenting Howard well in the frontcourt. Brewer found a perfect role as an energy guy off the bench in Houston after being traded from Minnesota in December. Terry was surprisingly solid in the backup point guard role, stepping in as a starter after Beverley went down. McDaniels didn’t play much after being traded to Houston from Philadelphia at the deadline, but he’s still a promising young talent.

Unless something unforeseen happens, Morey’s plan seems to be to keep this group together and add new draftees Sam Dekker and Montrezl Harrell. And why not? The Rockets made the Western Conference Finals despite injuries to Beverley and Donatas Motiejunas. If the opportunity is there to get a star like Love or Aldridge, Morey will obviously go for it, but it’s understandable that he sees potential for this core to make yet another leap after a successful season and playoff run.

Kings’ executive Vlade Divac says he won’t be bullied into trading DeMarcus Cousins

Vlade Divac

All hell has broken loose in Sacramento over the last few days, when reports that DeMarcus Cousins would be traded at the behest of George Karl ran wild, and teams like the Lakers were supposedly firmly in the mix to acquire the disgruntled and difficult All-Star center.

The Kings have denied that Cousins was ever available, even after reports surfaced that a framework of a deal with Los Angeles had indeed been put into place. Karl reportedly shopped Cousins on his own, which left ownership in Sacramento pondering whether or not he was the right choice as head coach, and if it might be better to simply cut the team’s losses by cutting him loose, and starting from scratch by going in a different direction.

As of this moment, the plan in Sacramento appears to be to keep everyone in place. And newly-installed decision-maker Vlade Divac wants to make it clear that no matter what types of reports leak, and regardless of the amount of pressure that is exerted, he will remain steadfast in doing what he believes is best for the overall health of the franchise.

From Sam Amick of USA Today:

“I just was tired last week, or days, of these rumors, and putting a lot of stuff on our back, making this even harder than it is,” Divac said in an interview with Sacramento radio station KHTK 1140 Friday morning. “I try to be who I am, and try to do my job best I can and try to do the best I can for the franchise. I’m not going to let somebody change my mind because they’re putting (threats in) the paper or putting the pressure on me. I’ll do the best I can to improve this team.”

For all the understandable comparisons between Cousins’ situation and that of superstars like Carmelo Anthony (Melo-Drama in Denver) or Dwight Howard (Dwight-mare in Orlando), there’s one common thread that has been largely ignored by the masses: Cousins’ agent, Dan Fegan of Relativity Sports, who has long since become the industry leader in applying the kind of pressure to a team that he hopes leads to a trade of his choosing.

He represented Howard during those Orlando days, when all the endless twists and turns leading up to his Aug. 2012 trade to the Los Angeles Lakers did the kind of damage to Howard’s reputation that has never been truly repaired. He was behind the scenes in the Denver situation back in 2011, too, working unofficially with then-Nuggets adviser and close friend Bret Bearup to get Anthony to the Brooklyn Nets before then-general manager Masai Ujiri ultimately opted for a trade with the New York Knicks.

This is somewhat of a crazy story — not because an agent is being openly tied to the rumors that leaked with the intention of forcing a team to trade one of his clients to a more desirable destination, but because the details of those discussions are rarely made as public as they are in this account of how the events transpired.

It’s unclear whether or not Karl and Cousins can successfully (and peacefully) co-exist next season given the way this has all played out. But Sacramento seems to prefer to keep them both in place if at all possible, and Divac is determined not to let outside influences interfere with his plans of reshaping the Kings into a winning franchise.

Report: Rockets to pursue Kevin Love and LaMarcus Aldridge, looking to trade Terrence Jones

Cleveland Cavaliers v Portland Trail Blazers

Kevin Love opted out. LaMarcus Aldridge seems increasingly likely to leave Portland.

So, of course, the Rockets are interested.

Marc Stein of ESPN:

Let’s say the Rockets:

  • Trade Terrence Jones without taking any salary in return
  • Renounce all their free agents, including Patrick Beverley and K.J. McDaniels
  • Waive Kostas Papanikolaou (unguaranteed) and Pablo Prigioni (partially guaranteed)

They’d still project to have just $12 million in cap space – well below the $19 million max for Love and Aldridge.

Signing one of those star power forwards would almost certainly mean dealing Trevor Ariza, and it would probably require sacrificing significant depth, too.

And that might be worth it. Either Love or Aldridge would complement James Harden and Dwight Howard well. Then, Houston could recoup depth when the salary cap spikes in 2016, providing more flexibility.

It’s an easy plan to get behind. It’s just much harder to execute, though bank on Daryl Morey trying.

Adam Silver again suggests NBA will no longer reward division winners

Adam Silver

OAKLAND — The Los Angeles Clippers and San Antonio Spurs — the two teams many people thought were the second and third best teams in the Western Conference — met in the first round of the NBA playoffs this season. It was an epic seven-game series, one of the best of the postseason, but one that took so much energy from the Clippers to win they started to fade against the Houston Rockets the next round (L.A. led 3-1 but lost the last three).

Los Angeles and San Antonio only met in the first round because under the current NBA rules Portland, which won 51 games, had to be the four seed in the West because it won the Northwest Division. That put them ahead of the 55-win Spurs. The NBA’s rules say if a team wins its division it can be no lower than the four seed. In the next round, Houston was the higher seed with home court against the Clippers because it won its division, even though both teams won 56 games.

For a couple years NBA Commissioner Adam Silver has suggested the divisions (or at least rewarding their winner) should be done away with, and he reiterated that again on Thursday, addressing the media before Game 1 of the NBA Finals.

“Having said that, we are very focused on the divisional seeding process, and I think we are going to take a very close look at whether we should seed at least 1 through 8 by conference as opposed to giving the division winner that higher seed,” Silver said. “So that is something we are taking a close look at that, and we may change that fairly quickly. As I’ve said earlier, that is a vestige of a division system that may not make sense anymore.”

Silver added the NBA is not yet going to just put the best 16 teams in the playoffs and seed regardless of conference, as has been suggested by some fans and media members.

“I think ultimately where (the owners) came out is this notion of 1 through 16 seeding, while it seems attractive in many ways, because of the additional travel that will result, it just doesn’t seem like a good idea at the moment,” Silver said. “This notion of, for example, this team would have played Boston in the first round under a 1through16 seeding and would have had to crisscross back and forth across the country, which does not seem like a good idea, especially based on the earlier question based on the health of our players, and focusing on actually reducing the amount of travel and back to backs.”

In other comments during his 45-minute talk, Silver said:

• Don’t expect changes to the intentional fouling rules to limit hack-a-whoever strategies.

“On the Hack-a-Shaq, you know, as I’ve said before, again, another issue we had a long discussion about at our general manager’s meeting recently in Chicago.  And while we looked at the data, it’s true most of the general managers in that room were not in favor of making the change,” Silver said. “In essence, what the data shows is that you’re largely talking about two teams throughout the playoffs, in fact, 90 percent of the occurrences of HackaShaq involve the Rockets and the Clippers, and then for the most part it’s two players, 75 percent involved two players, DeAndre Jordan and Dwight Howard. So then the question becomes should we be making that rule change largely for two teams and two players?…

“But, in addition, one of the things I’ve raised before is I’m also concerned sort of as a steward of the game what it means if we change the rules as well, and that’s from literally the hundreds of emails I get from high school coaches, junior high coaches, AAU coaches saying you can’t possibly change the rule to accommodate players who can’t make free throws.

“So it’s a balance of issues, but I think it’s one that the owners will end up having a sort of robust discussion on this summer.  Ultimately, I think I said the other day, my personal view is it would help to look at another season of data, because in so many of the situations with which it was used this year, putting aside the fact it was largely two teams, it flat out wasn’t effective.  Even in terms of players hitting their free throws, roughly, if a player can hit 50 percent of his free throws, it defeats the strategy.”

• He said he would be open to a discussion of alterations to the NBA’s concussion protocol in the wake of the injury to Klay Thompson. However, he didn’t make it sound like change was coming.

• He talked about the plans unveiled in Milwaukee for a new stadium: “There is a bit of a negotiation going on.  I don’t know how else to say it.  There are some moving parts there.  You have the State making a contribution, you have the City making a contribution as well.  But I’m fairly confident it will all get worked out.”

Chandler Parsons recruiting Patrick Beverley to Mavericks

Gal Mekel,Patrick Beverley

Chandler Parsons said he was ready to recruit free agent to the Mavericks.

Unless Parsons has gone rogue, Dallas hopes to poach another Rocket – Patrick Beverley.

Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle:

With Pat Beverley heading into free agency, the Rockets point guard said he is already seeing the renowned recruiting talents of former teammate Chandler Parsons first hand.

“I hear from Chandler every day,” Beverley said. “It’s hard, but I try not to think about it. I can’t talk about contracts. It’s going to be a fun summer. I have put myself in a position to be set for life and that’s something that I never thought was possible growing up.”

Beverley would be an excellent fit with the Mavericks.

The Rockets exposed Dallas’ defensive holes in the playoffs, and Beverley would at least fill one. As the Rajon Rondo experiment and subsequent success showed, Rick Carlisle’s system works better with a point guard who can make 3s and doesn’t dominate the ball. That’s Beverley.

How much money would the Mavericks offer Beverley, who will be a restricted free agent?

Al-Farouq Aminu will definitely opt out, and last check had Monta Ellis doing the same. Let’s assume they both do. Let’s also assume Dallas renounces all its free agents and waives Dwight Powell, who has an unguaranteed salary.

Using data from Basketball Insiders, the Mavericks would project to have about $30.9 million in cap space.

A max contract for DeAndre Jordan (who’s reportedly interested in Dallas) or LaMarcus Aldridge would start at about $19 million. With or without one of those top free agents, Dallas would lose cap space by re-signing any of its own free agents like Ellis, Aminu and/or Tyson Chandler.

The Mavericks have room to chase Beverley. It just limits their flexibility elsewhere.

Dallas probably must offer more than $10 million per season to convince Houston not to match.

Because Beverley has been in the league three seasons, the Gilbert Arenas Provision does not apply. A team can sign him to an offer sheet worth up to a max contract, and it can’t balloon like the Omer Asik and Jeremy Lin deals.

The Rockets definitely value Beverley. But as the Parsons saga showed last year, they might place more value in the flexibility to chase a third star to complement James Harden and Dwight Howard.

I hope Dallas chases Beverley – to see how he’d fit in the Mavericks’ system, to see how Houston would build its roster and to see one more Mark Cuban-Daryl Morey clash.