Toronto Raptors get: PG Kyle Lowry
Houston Rockets get: A future-first round pick and some guy named Gary Forbes
What is your plan, Daryl Morey? Morey claims to be engaged in a seemingly infinite practice of “asset accumulation.” The idea, as the story goes, is to continue to accumulate “assets,” which in basketball parlance means young, cheap players and the rights to future draft picks so that when the next Disgruntled Superstar – be it Carmelo Anthony, Chris Paul, or currently, Dwight Howard – demands a trade, the Rockets can exchange a heaping scoop of assets for the Disgruntled Superstar.
To the casual observer, it feels like Houston has made lateral move after lateral move since the retirement of Yao and the decline of former basketball demigod Tracy McGrady, constantly exchanging good players for other good players, assembling a roster of good but not great talent, and finishing on the outside looking in come playoff time.
Last offseason, in the now-infamous “Basketball Reasons” trade which was nullified by Commissioner David Stern, Morey attempted to trade SG Kevin Martin, PF Luis Scola, PG Goran Dragic as well as a first round pick to get C Pau Gasol. The rumor at the time was that Morey would then turn around and sign PF Marc Gasol, Pau’s younger brother, as well. Basketball Reasons prevailed, and Stern wound up vetoing the trade which would have also sent PG Chris Paul to the Los Angeles Lakers.In the weeks preceding the draft, there were the usual Twitter grumblings that Morey would once again accumulate assets, this time to get child-man Dwight Howard. Kyle Lowry’s name was mentioned as possible trade bait, because after all, Lowry was so good through the first three months of last season that there was a “Kyle Lowry: All Star?” sentiment bouncing around the NBA Twittersphere. Not only was he just entering his prime and signed to an incredibly team-friendly contract through 2013-14, but he was putting up poor man’s Jason Kidd numbers – and I’m talking Nets Jason Kidd merged with the latest iteration who happens to shoot 3’s. Through three months Lowry averaged 16 points, 7 assists, almost 5 rebounds, and 2 steals in over 35 minutes per game, plus a 40% 3-point stroke. Lowry was filling it up, going for 18 assists on December 31st, 33/9/8 on January 14th, and his first triple-double on January 23rd in a head-to-head battle with Ricky Rubio (16/10/10). Lowry played defense like a pitbull, and fought in the paint for rebounds like a forward. He could push the fast-break, set people up, and hit the 3 when the ball came back to him. He would presumably be a very nice asset.
At the night’s conclusion, however, Morey and the Rockets were left with a very nice haul out of the first round: SG Jeremy Lamb, F Royce White, and F Terrence Jones. But still no Howard, still no superstar to build around, and still, Kyle Lowry was a rocket.
The Lowry made sense, to a degree, after Lowry’s backup, Slovenian Goran Dragic, had emerged as more than capable after Lowry went down late in the season with a slew of injuries (a bacterial infection and a sports hernia, among others). Lowry remained a Rocket after the draft, and soon after free agency started on July 1 it was announced that Dragic had agreed to a deal with the Phoenix Suns to replace outgoing PG Steve Nash. Now, with Dragic gone, surely the Lowry rumors would subside.
Alas, the Plan marches forward. More asset acumulation for Morey and the Rockets, as news broke today that Lowry would be traded to the Toronto Raptors for another “future first round pick”.
Lowry will fit in great in Toronto. Head coach Dwane Casey, the defensive coordinator of the Dallas Mavericks’ championship team in 2010, greatly revamped the Raptors defense last season, and will greatly enjoy finding ways to use Lowry to harass the opposing point guard.
For Houston, on the other hand, this trade marks what is looking more and more like a slow death march towards irrelevancy and the firing of Daryl Morey and his asset accumulation plan. Until that day, Houston fans will have to root for more future first round picks and continue to cross their fingers that one day, someday soon, a Disgruntled Superstar will demand a trade and the GM assigned the task of trading Disgruntled Superstar will take a look at the Rockets roster and think to himself, “Wow, a bunch of assets I really could use to jumpstart the rebuilding.”
Until that day, Morey is left with a team without a point guard, and a bunch of assets nobody seems to want.