Don’t do it, Rocket fans.
Don’t allow yourself to be fooled into thinking that Houston actually has a chance to land free agent and hometown hero Rashard Lewis.
I know it’s tempting to be swayed by GM Daryl Morey when he says the Rockets are “going after Rashard.” I know that right this minute you’re already drooling over the possibilities and potential of a holy hoops trinity featuring Yao, T-Mac and Lewis. But do so at your own peril. Because all you’re really doing is wasting your time. Repeat after me: it’s not going to happen.
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First of all, Lewis is not going to accept a hometown discount. He’ll be seeking a contract upwards of $12 million per year which puts him decidedly out of the Rockets price range since Yao and McGrady currently have max dollar deals. And with Houston already above the salary cap, don’t expect Les Alexander to green light yet another mega contract which would put him even further into luxury tax land.
So that means the only way the Rockets can make this deal happen is through a sign and trade. And that’s where this pipedream falls apart. The best offer Houston can submit probably looks something like this: Shane Battier, Rafer Alston (or Luther Head, depending on the size of Rashard’s new deal) and Bob Sura’s expiring contract for Lewis. Sorry, but I just don’t think there are enough hallucinogenic mushrooms in the Pacific Northwest for Seattle to sign off on a one-sided trade like that. Besides, the Sonics already have a logjam at the small forward and point guard positions. Why would they deal one of their most valuable assets to simply muck up their roster even further? And even if the Rockets were able to pull off such a heist, how on earth would they fill out the rest of their roster with Yao, Rashard and Tracy pulling in more than $40 million per year for the next half decade?
I know it’s fun to dream about this sort of thing. I mean, I’m still holding out hope that U2’s next album will be a seismic tour de force combining the ethereal beauty of The Joshua Tree with the supersonic power of Achtung Baby. But you know what? It ain’t happening. And neither is a Lewis homecoming.
Finally, I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention that I’m leaving the country this week. So if by some miracle Lewis does land in Houston, I’ll be more than happy to eat crow upon my return. Until then, I’ll be holding out hope for a more realistic free agent target; someone like Andres Nocioni. I just so happen to believe the Red Bull would look very good in a Rockets uniform. – Jason Friedman