NBA PM: Houston Rockets Trade Fix
In a perfect world, it won’t take a major trade for the Houston Rockets to get the major piece they need to get back in the playoff chase next season. They would love to just sign someone like Marc Gasol, Nene or Tyson Chandler and just right back into the mix.
Unfortunately, their track record for signing key free agents isn’t so good, so it’s more likely they will have to find their starting center by other means.
The Rockets haven’t yet engaged the Utah Jazz in trade talks, but it’s hard to imagine that connection won’t be made eventually. Perhaps it will take a few of their other plans falling through, as seems inevitable, but sooner or later Houston should have a discussion with the Jazz . . .about Mehmet Okur.
Okur would have been absolutely perfect for Rick Adelman’s system. He’s a big man who can knock down shots from all over the court and also has a decent passing game. Adelman may be gone, but much of his personnel is still there, and players like Kevin Martin, Luis Scola, Chase Budinger and Kyle Lowry would certainly benefit from playing with a center possessing all of the skills that Okur possesses.
The Jazz, of course, basically moved on from Okur while he was injured last season. They have Al Jefferson starting at center, meaning Okur is likely out of the starting rotation. The Jazz could get a decent backup from Houston in a trade, someone like Jordan Hill, for example, while also filling out some depth on the wing and at the point with Houston’s wide array of guard talent. The Rockets also have plenty of first round picks to throw in to help the Jazz open up cap space and build for the future.
Okur is going into the final year of a contract that will pay him $10.9 million, an amount the Rockets can easily absorb. He is also said to be fully healthy after missing much of last season with an Achilles’ tendon tear. He would represent a low-risk, high-return investment for the Rockets and might just be enough to get them back into the postseason in Kevin McHale’s first year as head coach.
Again, the Rockets are not targeting Mehmet Okur, and he may not even be on their radar, but as their radar starts to empty out while free agents commit elsewhere, don’t be surprised if there isn’t at least a discussion between the Rockets and Jazz regarding Utah’s former starting center.
Yi Returns To China
Few players arrive in the NBA with the level of anticipation that accompanied Yi Jianlian when he made his debut with the Milwaukee Bucks in 2007. Unfortunately, he never found a way to get out from under the shadow of Yao Ming, and also never achieved the level of success Yao did before he retired due to injury. Now, four years into his NBA career, there are questions about whether or not Yi even has a future in the league. He averaged just 5.6 points in an ever-shrinking role for the Washington Wizards last season, the final year on his contract. Now he’s returned home to China to prepare for the start of the Chinese Basketball Association.
“Yi looked at the lockout situation and wanted to be on the right side of the fence,” Jarinn Akana, one of Yi’s representatives, explained to Michael Lee of the Washington Post. If something came down, and they made an agreement he could come back and if not, he’s on that side that he can play. It was just a matter of looking at the situation and figuring out if it made sense to play.”
The Wizards declined to extend the $5.4 million qualifying offer that would have made Yi a restricted free agent going into the 2011-12 NBA season. Yi’s camp is hopeful that by continuing to work and showing some good things in China he can grab the attention of another NBA team in need of help at the forward position.
“Yi is still improving and working on his game,” said Akana. “Of course, like all young players, you need to keep playing to develop. If not, you lose that development time. All players know, sitting idle doesn’t help.”
So Yi returns to the team that saw him grow into the player who was of interest to the NBA, the one who led the Guangdong Southern Tigers to four consecutive CBA championships.
“Although he may not stay with us very long, I am quite sure his return is good for himself, the team and Chinese fans as well, “ Guangdong Hongyuan’s team manager Liu Hongjiang told the Chinese news agency, Xinhua. “He could keep his edge in CBA, our team will also benefit from his skills and fans certainly want to see him play at his best years.”
Unlike the other NBA players who have signed in China, because Yi is a Chinese national he will have the ability to leave as soon as the lockout lifts. It only remains to be seen whether or not returning to his roots can help Yi Jianlian get back onto the NBA radar.
Players Appeal To The Fans Via Twitter?
NBA players don’t really have much leverage in their ongoing discussions with NBA owners over the labor dispute. The owners have most of the money and can wait out the process, and they also have the branding power of the NBA. Players can stage small leagues and exhibition games, but to make the big bucks they need the NBA name behind them. There have been some concessions made by owners through the course of the negotiations, but the hard line issues remain the hard line issues.
What can the players ultimately do about it?
There are still plenty of weapons at their disposal, such as taking the NBA to court and decertifying the union, but today another effort seems to be underway. It seems one method to be employed by the NBA players is to get fans to apply pressure from the outside, an effort that is starting through players’ Twitter accounts.
Steve Nash: The NBA has experienced over 60 yrs of growth with new growth projected using the current model. After a banner year the players are still willing to GIVE the owners a higher percentage in good faith. Why are the owners unwilling to negotiate in good faith? As a player I apologize to the fans that we’re in this position.
Carmelo Anthony: I just wanna apologize to all the fans for this lockout. Trust me, I feel y’all pain. This shit sucks.
Jason Richardson: Dear owners, we want to play & our fans wants us to play! So Let Us Play!
Spencer Hawes: Let us play is trending. The movement moves on!!! #standunited. Thanks to all our great fans and all your continued support!
Manu Ginobili: LET US PLAY!! #StandUnited ~ Déjennos jugar!!
And a wide array of other players are simply sending out: “LET US PLAY!!”
The sentiment is clear – the players want the word out that it’s time to get the negotiations over with and get back to playing basketball.
It’s just too bad the owners aren’t sending out similar Tweets.
Reaching out to the fans is an admirable gesture from the players, but at the end of the day fans don’t have a whole lot to say in the matter. They’ve already made the NBA wildly successful, and they made the 2011 NBA Finals the most-watched in the history of the league. The NBA is as popular as its ever been and generating more revenue than ever.
At least, it was before the lockout started.
There is certain to be some negative fallout from the lockout, especially if regular season games are lost. The average NBA fan is suffering right along with the rest of the American economy, and will likely find somewhere else to spend their entertainment dollars for a while, even when the lockout lifts. Why support a billion-dollar industry that can’t even negotiate with its employees?
But how do fans convey that feeling to the NBA owners, who don’t seem overly concerned about that aspect of the lockout? Tweeting won’t be enough. Emails to teams, perhaps? Peaceful demonstrations at NBA arenas? What would actually get the attention of owners?
Or perhaps it will turn out that the fans have bigger problems to worry about . . .and the owners won’t fully understand the cost of the hard line approach until it’s too late.
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