Beyond the Raptors: Houston Rockets

With the playoffs starting to wind down, and free agency & the draft coming up quickly; we decided to talk to other bloggers about their team, and how they might figure into the plans of the Raptors come this offseason.

We have about a month until the NBA Draft and free agency kicks in, so I decided to talk to some of the teams around the NBA that have been linked to Chris Bosh and the Raptors in one way or another to get a feel for their franchise, and what we could expect back in a sign and trade.

While the early offers for CB4 have not been very exciting (you’ll see when we get to them), they do paint a picture of why trades are so difficult, especially when you have your back to the wall. While I don’t think the picture is so bleak in regards to Bosh (I still think he resigns; there is no sane reason why he would either), I concede that we wont even get 40 cents on the dollar for our franchise player.

First stop, I check in with Rahat Huq from The Houston Rockets TrueHoop blog Red94. Overall, he’s a good guy, a bit delusional, but he knows his stuff (I can’t wait till we resign Bosh so I get my face on his website banner for a week or so):

Sam Holako: Are you guys regretting replacing Artest with Ariza? Maybe I’m just being biased, but Artest took pretty much the same team to game 7 against the Lakers last year, and Ariza couldn’t even get them into the playoffs.

Rahat Huq: Not at all. I fully appreciate the contributions Ron made to this team last season, and it was definitely a surreal ride. But let’s be clear – he didn’t take this team anywhere against the Lakers and in fact, was a complete liability offensively.

For the series, Ron shot just 38% from the floor (28% from 3) in averaging his 15.6 points per game and was even more dreadful when we needed him most upon the injury to Yao, averaging just 9.5ppg in the last 4 games, on 28% shooting (and a terrifying 15% on his 26 3-point attempts.)

Ariza wasn’t brought here to get the team anywhere; Trevor was signed to be a complementary piece. He struggled early due to being forced into a high usage role out of necessity, but settled in very nicely after the arrival of Kevin Martin.

SH: Let’s not beat around the bush; make me an offer for Chris Bosh.

RH: These are my two offers:

1) Jordan Hill, Chase Budinger, Jared Jeffries, Dave Andersen, Jermaine Taylor, one Knick draft pick
2) Jordan Hill, Shane Battier, Dave Andersen, Jermaine Taylor, one Knick draft pick.

Andersen and Taylor included to make the numbers match – I could be slightly off on the figures.

SH: That offer makes me sad…very very sad. While Hill and the Knicks pick could have big value, I think I can speak for the rest of The Republic when I say that we expected more of an offer. I honestly haven’t even heard of Dave Andersen and Jermaine Taylor. The problem with your offer is that you think the Raptors have no leverage in this, but they do. Everyone knows that Chris Bosh wont leave the franchise high-and-dry for no other reason than if he does, he’s out 1 year and $30mill. Just for being insolent, Colangelo can use this S&T as a means to get rid of some dead weight in the form of either Calderon or Turkoglu. Let’s figure Jose since Brooks isn’t really a point guard, and you guys will need someone who knows how a pick-n-roll works.

RH: The inclusion of Andersen and Taylor would simply be for salary matching purposes. As far as our offer, I think you are coming in with unrealistic expectations. Look at the history of sign&trades for max players. From Chucky Atkins and Ben Wallace (when he was a nobody), to draft picks for Rashard Lewis and Kenyon Martin, you won’t find a package even approaching the attractiveness of Jordan Hill, Chase Budinger, and a lightly protected probable lottery pick.

SH: I have a feeling we might get into a fist-fight…so lets talk about Yao. The guy misses a whole season, is largely forgotten around the league, but should make a full recovery and be Über effective next season. The prospect of playing against a Bosh/Yao front court is scary; what are the plans for him going forward?

RH: He’s resumed workouts and is on schedule with his recovery.

I think the organization plans to limit his minutes and usage next season, and that shouldn’t be too great a concern considering some of the other parts that are in place. Still, Yao’s greatest value to the team is on the defensive end where, while he is not the best of shotblockers, he is as good as just about anyone at protecting the paint.

Yao/Bosh would indeed be scary simply because their skillsets mesh so perfectly. I’ve long felt that Yao was a finisher rather than an initiator. With Bosh’s high post abilities, he would provide the team a focal point from which to start its offense.

SH: Suppose in a bizzarro NBA world the Raptors sign-and-trade Bosh for Jordan Hill and spare parts, how do the Rockets matchup against the rest of the Western Conference? What can we expect from them?

RH: They won 42 games without Yao and Bosh and with a major personnel change midway through the season. If they can add what would have to be the best power forward – center duo in basketball in Yao – Bosh to the quintet of Scola-Lowry-Brooks-Martin-Ariza, along with a lottery pick, you would have to expect a significant increase in wins. Will they contend immediately? The talent is certainly there, but I think it could take a while and at least some growing pains to reach that level.

Based on your indignation over my proposal, I think you’re really suffering from delusions of grandeur. If a package of Jordan Hill, Chase Budinger, and a future lottery pick would not suffice, in light of what has been bartered in past sign & trades of this type (Atkins/Wallace, only picks), I must ask, what exactly are you hoping for? It’s true that the Raptors hold leverage, but to a certain degree. They’ll pick the destination, but they won’t exactly be able to extract a king’s ransom, nor will they be able to offload their garbage (Calderon, Turkoglu.)

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