The positive is that the 24-year-old Lin has so much time left to develop his skills that Houston’s gamble can’t possibly hurt in the short term. Owner Les Alexander gave the go-ahead for Morey to do some offseason spending, so whatever Lin’s price was isn’t totally relevant. Alexander’s pocketbook has never been a problem.
Lin now steps into a situation in which he should thrive: A pick-and-roll-heavy offense that should allow him to dominate the ball as he pleases, with so many rookies and new faces that he will have a green light from the
Without mounting pressure to win, Lin can focus on taking the steps necessary to repeat last season’s successes. By the time his backloaded contract owes him more money, perhaps he will be much closer to actually earning the dollars he is receiving.
Three: The number of consecutive seasons Houston has finished ninth in the West
This isn’t a positive in itself, but its unbearable stench resulted in many of the positives you will read in this post, including my rationale for Houston’s pursuit of Howard. It’s pretty simple: The Rockets had to get off the treadmill.
Despite how productive Kyle Lowry, Luis Scola, Courtney Lee and others had become, they weren’t going to get the Rockets a championship, and acquiring a star while keeping them on the roster proved to be an impossible task. So Morey did the only sensible thing he could do: He blew it up.
Had Houston landed Howard, they would have secured his Bird rights, quite the incentive for him to stick around. But since they didn’t get him, the team now has a chance to start over with fresh faces, youth and zero pressure to perform.
And while the Rockets’ front office isn’t interested in losing in order to win, the surge downward from the 45-win ceiling should prove wholly necessary, as the Rockets could enter this next offseason armed with a high draft pick (perhaps multiple first-rounders should reloaded Dallas finish with a high playoff seed) and loads of cap space.
Put it this way: If the Rockets somehow make the playoffs this season, they will have done it with a much more financially flexible roster and with young players who suddenly blossomed into very good players with their whole careers ahead of them. That outcome isn’t likely, but it’s not a bad consequence, either.
Four: The number of players 6-10 or taller on the roster
The Rockets literally did not have a center on the roster until they signed Omer Asik. So that made sense.
Coincidentally, Asik is Houston’s first true center since Yao, and let me tell you, three years of allowing uncontested layups is longer than it seems.
Five: The number of talented and intriguing first-round picks making their debuts (counting Marcus Morris)
Normally I wouldn’t be so giddy to see picks No. 12, 14, 16, 18 and 20 stretched over two drafts take the reins of a roster. But the thing is, one or more of these guys could turn out to be really good.
There are the potential scoring machines in Morris and Jeremy Lamb, the do-it-all candidates in Royce White and Terrence Jones and Your Next Nominee For Dirk’s Second Coming in Donatas Motiejunas. That fearsome fivesome of rookies tore through the Summer League uninhibited and – with the exception of the anxiety-ridden White – have shown flashes of talent thus far in the preseason.
The reason I like all of these guys is pretty simple: Each has a uniquely special talent and put up productive numbers in college (or, in Motiejunas’ case, abroad). At the same time, each possesses a red flag of sorts that caused teams to shy away.
Lamb is too skinny and doesn’t show off a killer instinct. White’s fear of flying could derail a career that could already be slowed due to a lack of height and a poor jump shot. Jones is your traditional tweener without a consistent shot, and Motiejunas could be anything from David Andersen to Andrea Bargnani unless he bulks up.
As for Morris, the basically-a-rookie small forward: His red flags were similar to Jones’, but he also has more to prove than the others entering his second season (technically). He hasn’t been the 6-9 scoring threat the Rockets thought could emulate Carmelo Anthony (I know, I know), but he’s now in a position where he will have to show off everything he’s got left in the tank in order to earn playing time.
Despite the concerns, the ceilings for each certainly are high if everything falls into place, so for Houston to take a gamble on the five of them makes perfect sense. The Rockets were primed to be risk-takers entering this year’s draft, and luckily, they took more than a few risks to add to the others.
We will see what happens this season and beyond, but the sense of “Why the heck not?” surrounding these players should give fans a reason to watch.
Born in Houston, Tom Martin is the editor of TheDreamShake.com, an SB Nation blog covering the Houston Rockets. A longtime Rockets fan entrenched hundreds of miles away in Columbia, Missouri, he is just a few credit hours from graduating with a degree in broadcast journalism. You can follow him on Twitter @TomMartin4 and @DreamShakeSBN
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