The Houston Rockets are banking on the desperation of the Minnesota Timberwolves when it comes to Jimmy Butler. During the offseason, the Wolves and Butler were at odds after Butler declared he wishes to be traded. The situation took an even uglier turn after Butler went on a reported tirade in one of their practices before the start of the 2018-19 NBA season. What this has done is open the door for a general manager like Daryl Morey to make a play for the All-Star player.
The Rockets are loaded and one has to wonder if they are too loaded? No. Look at the Golden State Warriors and the Boston Celtics. Both teams are guided by three or more All-Star players and what Morey is trying to do for the Rockets with Butler is level the playing field.
But should it take four future first-round picks to do so?
Since Morey took over in 2007, the Houston Rockets have selected 10 players in the first round but only four (Clint Capela, Marcus Morris, Nikola Mirotic, and Nicolas Batum) have really amounted to anything in the league. Another crazy thing to consider is that Capela is the only one still with the team who produces. So, those four picks Morey is throwing away have little impact on the Rockets future.
What the Houston Rockets are going for is a lineup that will rival those of the Celtics and Warriors. As it stands now, the Rockets are still short on that extra firepower it will take to dethrone Stephen Curry, Kevin Durant, and Klay Thompson. Not to mention, how dangerous the Warriors will be when they get DeMarcus Cousins in the lineup.
Now, many will say that if not for the Chris Paul injury in the playoffs last season, this would be a different conversation. However, Daryl Morey has to understand like so many of us, that Paul’s injury is the norm for the future Hall-of-Famer. Paul’s body simply can’t be trusted.
With the Rockets offering the Timberwolves four picks, why is there such an outcry that Morey has lost his mind? Recent history will show that Morey has no use for first-round picks and the ones that he did use, haven’t amounted to much production-wise. While some were used in trades, those helped the Rockets become the team they are now.
The current roster is composed of players from other teams. Morey didn’t draft Paul, James Harden, Eric Gordon or Carmelo Anthony. Morey used his intelligence and analytics-driven approach to surpass GMs with more time on the job.
The way the NBA is built, it’s a win now or rebuild era. As much as the Philadelphia 76ers would like to take credit for building from the ground up, a big reason for their process is due to calculated and some risky moves by ex-GM Sam Hinkie. The 76ers took on bad contracts while taking draft picks from teams they hoped would be in tank mode. They got lucky.
The Rockets don’t have that sort of time. They’re right on the cusp of a title and just need that extra push to put them over the top. Let’s be honest here. No team in the Eastern Conference can counter the Rockets’ lineup. As good as the Celtics are, they just don’t have it. The Washington Wizards, 76ers nor the Toronto Raptors aren’t quite on their level, either.
What has Morey calling the Timberwolves regarding Butler are the Warriors and time.
The Time Is Now For The Houston Rockets To Win
Paul is not getting any younger and there are only a handful of players who can go toe-to-toe with Curry. Harden is a one-man scoring crew but how long can he keep his usage rate up before he begins to drop off? Gordon is one of the best perimeter scorers in the league, but without a facilitator, he becomes more like J.J. Redick and less Reggie Miller.
The time is now. The Houston Rockets are not concerned with the future. This is an annual playoff team who will fall in the late 20’s in terms of draft position. If the Rockets are giving themselves a window to win, what rookie at 28th or 29th will make such a huge impact that they will challenge Gordon, Harden or Capela for team supremacy? A reserve role may be open for 10-15 minutes per game but fans shouldn’t expect too much.
Daryl Morey did the right thing offering the picks for Jimmy Butler. The Timberwolves don’t want him there and Butler has no desire to remain there. He wants out and the Rockets are giving the Timberwolves an out. While fans will scoff at the haul it will take to get Butler, they will not be throwing stones Morey’s way if they win the championship. A move like this appears to be a step backward for the team, but it’s not. If the Rockets don’t make this type of move, that’s a step backward.
If this were the Phoenix Suns or Cleveland Cavaliers, then yes this would be considered a terrible move. But the Rockets are one player away and Butler could very well be that guy. Morey understands how the NBA works. You have to do what you have to do in order to survive. In his case, he wants to win and that’s more than a slew of other GMs can say.