The NBA has the best offseason of any of the major sports, and it's even better when you live in a city where you KNOW that your team will be doing SOMETHING every year. That's what Daryl Morey (and, really, Les Alexander, insomuch as he provides the resources) has gotten the Rockets — a spot at the table every NBA offseason.
Through a combination of transactional caginess, sales skills and advanced fiscal math, Morey has the Rockets in the mix for big free agents or impactful-to-franchise-altering trade possibilities every offseason. So as we sit and wait for the next one to happen — Carmelo Anthony, wherefore art thou? — here is a list of Morey's ten best offseason moves.
(NOTE: These do not include draft choices, just free agent signings, offer sheet matches and trades.)
10. July 20, 2012 - OMER ASIK signed a multi-year offer sheet with the Houston Rockets
In the summer of 2012, the Rockets were still stuck in superstar-less purgatory, so we were relegated to being asked by Morey to tell Asik on Twitter how much we all wanted to have him in Houston. Those were grim times — begging for Omer Asik to come here. It's far more fun debating how Carmelo Anthony will fit as the third All-Star. Still, Asik was solid for one season with the Rockets, averaging a double-double in 2012-13, before having his brain psychologically scrambled when the team had the nerve to sign Dwight Howard in free agency. The following season, he was gone, traded to New Orleans.
9. July 12, 2007 - Jackie Butler and the draft rights to LUIS SCOLA were acquired by the Houston Rockets from the San Antonio Spurs in exchange for Vassilis Spanoulis, a 2009 2nd round pick (HOU own), cash and a TPE
While he, along with Kevin Martin, might have been the face of the Starless Purgatory era, Scola was a very solid Rocket for five seasons, averaging 15 points and 8 rebounds a game. He was also very popular, as the tribute video above will display. When you get a tribute video, you did something right!
8. August 14, 2008 - Pat Ewing, Sean Singletary, RON ARTEST and a TPE were acquired by the Houston Rockets from the Sacramento Kings in exchange for Donte Greene, Bobby Jackson, a conditional 2009 1st round pick (HOU own), cash and multiple TPEs
The Artest era had so much more potential, but like most of the latter portion of the decade of the 2000s, it was derailed by Yao Ming's tissue-paper feet and Tracy McGrady's balky knees. Artest was a Rocket for only one season, but he did average 17 points a game, and got into multiple spats with Kobe Bryant. We love people who fight with Kobe Bryant! Of course, Artest's signing with the Lakers after the season ended took some of the steam out of those disputes.
7. July 14, 2014 - TREVOR ARIZA signed a multi-year contract with the Washington Wizards as part of an eventual sign and trade to Houston Rockets
This was the SECOND Ariza contract, as the first time the Rockets signed him, in 2010, it didn't end quite so well, with the Rockets shipping Ariza off to New Orleans after a season. This was a much better deal, since the Rockets got Ariza for half the price that Chandler Parsons would have cost to keep, and Ariza was reportedly critical to Chris Paul's wanting to come here this offseason.
6. July 9, 2016 - ERIC GORDON signed a multi-year contract with the Houston Rockets
Last offseason, the Rockets signed two marquee free agents — one was Ryan Anderson for $20 million per year, the other was Gordon for $13 million per year. One became the Sixth Man of the Year, and the other is a contractual anchor who is choking the Rockets a year later. Gordon was the good one.
5. July 13, 2013 - DWIGHT HOWARD signed a multi-year contract with the Houston Rockets
I know the hard feelings in Howard's final season and his clown act while with and since leaving the Rockets belie this ranking, but the Rockets did get to a Western Conference Finals with Dwight Howard as their second-best player. That matters in this calculus.
4. June 28, 2017 - CHRIS PAUL was acquired by the Houston Rockets from the Los Angeles Clippers in exchange for Patrick Beverley, Sam Dekker, Montrezl Harrell, Darrun Hilliard, DeAndre Liggins, Lou Williams, Kyle Wiltjer, cash and a TPE
This is a good place to park this trade while we let this offseason play out, and see how Paul and Harden (and maybe Anthony) fit together, but Paul is one of the five best point guards of all time and still playing at a high level.
These next three moves are really sequentially linked.....
3. July 14, 2010 - The Houston Rockets matched the offer sheet that KYLE LOWRY signed with the Cleveland Cavaliers
The Rockets were able to lock up Lowry to an absurdly cheap four-year, $23.5 million deal when they matched the Cavs' offer sheet. The next two seasons would be Lowry's first two to average double digits, and with his value at what then was an all-time high, Morey did this....
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2. July 11, 2012 - Kyle Lowry was acquired by the Toronto Raptors from the Houston Rockets in exchange for Gary Forbes, a conditional 2013 1st ROUND PICK (TOR own) and a TPE
The late lottery pick from the Raptors became the key selling point in a trade with the Thunder just before the start of the 2012-13 season. Remember?......
1. October 27, 2012 - Cole Aldrich, Daequan Cook, JAMES HARDEN and Lazar Hayward were acquired by the Houston Rockets from the Oklahoma City Thunder in exchange for Jeremy Lamb, Kevin Martin, a conditional 2013 1st round pick (TOR own), a 2013 2nd round pick (CHA own), a conditional 2012 1st round pick (DAL own) and a TPE
And the rest is history. Harden has been first team All-NBA three out of the last four seasons, and will be a Rocket for the next six seasons, and if you have an issue with the Harden contract extension, then you don't remember what it was like to Twitter-beg Omer Asik to come here.
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