It was supposed to be different this time. After years of trying to trade for a legitimate star or sign one in free agency and having it fall apart at every turn, the Rockets were going to land their big fish. It was there on the table. It was agreed to by all parties.
And the league blocked it like Hakeem turning back a runner.
Everyone’s moved on. Chris Paul is a Clipper. Preseason games are in full swing. The Lakers brought in Troy Murphy… OK, so the Lakers haven’t really moved on. But the Rockets? The Rockets are soooooo mad you guys.
From the Houston Chronicle:
By then, the person said, Alexander had no interest in speaking with Stern and has declined to speak with him since.
The Rockets had hoped with the added cap space to sign Nene, who instead returned to the Nuggets. With the bolstered front line, the Rockets intended to bring back Chuck Hayes to a roster they believed would then be in position to contend in the West.
“You can say he (Alexander) was very angry,” said the person, speaking on condition of anonymity. “He was on the phone with Daryl too many times that day to count. When the deal finally got done, he got a call from Daryl saying the deal was done. Afterwards, the commissioner said he didn’t think the deal was done. It was amazing. Daryl is extremely efficient and does things the proper way. Lakers owner Jerry Buss has been in the league 30 years and has made countless deals and thought the deal was done. Mitch Kupchak thought the deal was done. There was no question in his Alexanders and Daryls minds the deal was done.”
The primary source of anger is because the Rockets and Lakers thought Demps had complete control to make the trade. And then he didn’t. Again, from the Chronicle:
“He said that David was briefed and that it was a done deal,” one of the individuals with knowledge of the talks said. “He (Demps) said multiple times that he briefed both of his local officials, (Hornets president) Hugh Webber and (Hornets chairman) Jac Sperling, and they and Dell at regular intervals were updating (NBA vice presidents) Stu Jackson and Joel Litvin and that they told David himself throughout the day. Also, Hugh and Jac, who were updating the league office, understood it to be a deal.”
So the teams involved said it was done, and that the league office had been informed of the deal and was fine with it, and then wasn’t. That seems an awful lot like the league talked to some of its owners and the owners flipped out and cancelled the trade, which is something David Stern vehemently denied on a conference call following the Chris Paul Clippers trade. Stern reiterated that while Demps had authority to negotiate a deal, the final say rested with the league.
But again, if that was the case, why was the deal brought along so far?
On the other hand, here’s a question for the Rockets. Why are you so upset over this? Yes, you would have had Pau Gasol, which is a big name. But you still would have had to talk Nene into taking one-year less, or else paying an outrageous amount for him long-term. He and Gasol would have likely hit their downslide in similar timeframes, meaning you’d potentially have $35 million-plus wrapped up in two guys past their prime. And with the leftovers of your roster, where were you really going? Is Kyle Lowry-Terrence Williams-Chase Budinger-Pau Gasol-Nene really going to win the Western Conference? Is it going to get out of the second round? I’m not convinced it makes it out of the first. Anyone remember the last time Pau Gasol was the man on a playoff team without Kobe Bryant?
The Rockets have kept their flexibility. Maybe this move was to give the Rockets some push in terms of short-term success, but it didn’t provide a long-term answer. This could wind up being a blessing in disguise if they play their cards right.