Houston Rockets Aren’t Finished Dealing
In case you missed it, earlier this evening the Houston Rockets, Los Angeles Lakers and New Orleans Hornets orchestrated what will be a three-team trade sending Chris Paul to LA, Luis Scola, Goran Dragic, Lamar Odom and Kevin Martin to New Orleans, and Pau Gasol to Houston. As of this writing the details are still be worked out, and it could turn out that Emeka Okafor is going to LA, as well. The deal can’t be consummated until free agency begins on Friday.
The deal isn’t even final, yet the email and texts are pouring in from Rockets fans who want to know what the heck is going on. Did the Rockets really just trade a top five shooting guard and a solid power forward for an older power forward who makes dramatically more money and puts up similar numbers?
The simple answer is: yes, they did.
Pau Gasol as averaged roughly 19 points and nine rebounds per game during his NBA career, as compared to Scola, who averaged 18.3 points and 8.2 rebounds last season. The primary difference between the two is that Gasol makes roughly $10 million per season than Scola. A straight-up trade would be a head-scratcher, but adding Martin, dragic and the first round pick they own from New York to the mix has Houston fans positively perplexed.
The fact is, this deal by itself makes no sense for Houston. It doesn’t make all that much sense for the Lakers, either, and the Hornets are the clear winners if nothing else goes down.
But something else is going to go down.
HOOPSWORLD’s Eric Pincus will clarify the Lakers’ plans, but for Houston the next step is simple. This trade will enable them to make an offer to free agent center Nene starting in the neighborhood of $13 million in year one, and that may be enough to lure Nene to town.
If the Rockets have a starting front court of Nene and Pau Gasol this starts to make a lot more sense.
Plan B for Houston – in the event the Nuggets blow Nene away with a bigger offer – is to make an offer to restricted free agent DeAndre Jordan so big that the LA Clippers won’t want to match it.
Either way, this is turns into a dramatic leap forward for the Rockets.
There is a potential problem with this trade, which is that the NBA, which owns the Hornets, is pushing Hornets GM Dell Demps to kill the trade and keep Chris Paul in New Orleans. Demps has autonomy in making moves, so it will be interesting to see how much sway the NBA has in making this happen. Can the league force Demps to keep Chris Paul, only to lose him as a free agent without getting any compensation in return?
UPDATE: The NBA has officially killed this trade . . .see below: