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October 16, 2014 Updates

Rockets big men in foul trouble, coach Kevin McHale moved Kostas Papanikolaou to power forward for several possessions until Pelicans coach Monty Williams countered with John Salmons in a smaller lineup. That likely will not be the last time Papanikolaou, who started at shooting guard with James Harden out, works as a "stretch four." "We're going to probably have to do some of that," McHale said. That would be fine with Papanikolaou. "I'm here to play and help my team," Papanikolaou said. "If that means play like a stretch four, that means I'll play like a stretch four. I want to do the best for my team, what my coaches ask me to do. And my team wants to get the wins every night out." Houston Chronicle

October 13, 2014 Updates
October 12, 2014 Updates
October 10, 2014 Updates
October 9, 2014 Updates

The three-year, $46 million offer sheet that Chandler Parsons signed with the Dallas Mavericks might have been the means of his departure from the nearby Houston Rockets. But according to Dirk Nowitzki’s latest running mate, the cleanliness of his new team’s town is another boon compared to his old one’s. In an interview at media day last week, Parsons said that Dallas is a “nicer, cleaner” city than Houston. Dime

October 8, 2014 Updates

Cuban hopes it will be Duncan’s last and would like to honor the future Hall of Famer on March 24, the Spurs’ last scheduled trip to Dallas of the season. “If we get word that it’s his last year here, we’ll do something special,” said Cuban, who would similarly honor former Mavs Steve Nash and Jason Terry if they make it clear they plan to retire at the end of the season. “We did the same thing for David Robinson. I’m hoping Tim will bless us with those words.“ What kind of farewell prize might Cuban offer Duncan? The possibilities are practically limitless. "Probably worth a salary-cap violation,” Cuban joked. ESPN.com

The game ball was a reward for a performance that Ariza felt was another example of his importance to a Wizards team that would make surprising run to the second round of the playoffs. Turned out, it was the moment that put Ariza back on the radar for a return to Houston. “I did think I was going to be” with the Wizards, Ariza said after a practice at Toyota Center with the Rockets last week. “I thought they valued the things that I did there. At the end of the day, it didn’t work out.” Washington Post

Ariza eventually spurned the Wizards and accepted a contract for the same financial terms — four years for $32 million — with the Rockets, the same team that signed him to his first big free agent deal in 2009. Since Texas doesn’t tax income, Ariza will collect slightly more money than by staying in Washington, but was there really a difference? “It’s a big difference,” Ariza said, voice raising. “I don’t really want to get into that part of it. I’m here in Houston. I’m happy to be here. I can’t complain about anything that happened to me. Washington Post

October 7, 2014 Updates

The game ball was a reward for a performance that Ariza felt was another example of his importance to a Wizards team that would make surprising run to the second round of the playoffs. Turned out, it was the moment that put Ariza back on the radar for a return to Houston. “I did think I was going to be” with the Wizards, Ariza said after a practice at Toyota Center with the Rockets last week. “I thought they valued the things that I did there. At the end of the day, it didn’t work out.” Washington Post

Ariza eventually spurned the Wizards and accepted a contract for the same financial terms — four years for $32 million — with the Rockets, the same team that signed him to his first big free agent deal in 2009. Since Texas doesn’t tax income, Ariza will collect slightly more money than by staying in Washington, but was there really a difference? “It’s a big difference,” Ariza said, voice raising. “I don’t really want to get into that part of it. I’m here in Houston. I’m happy to be here. I can’t complain about anything that happened to me. Washington Post

The Rockets are widely expected to take a step back this season, thanks to all the depth they squandered on the Bosh dice roll, but they expect to have significant salary-cap room next summer -- when they can chase point guards as accomplished as Goran Dragic and Rajon Rondo if they choose -- as well as in the summer of 2016. Which is when, sources say, they'd like to give Harden an opportunity to serve as Houston's lead recruiter in the pursuit of a free agent named Kevin Wayne Durant. ESPN.com

"Daryl told me this process is going to be frustrating and you're going to read a lot of stuff you're not going to like, but at the end of the day, you've worked hard for this and you've earned this," Parsons said. "He warned me it could get ugly at times once the media gets involved and that you're gonna see people say you're not worth this or you're not worth that. [Morey] just sat me down and said, 'Go out and sign the best contract you can. Just know in the back of your head that we're gonna match the contract.' "Dan was trying to negotiate something with them early, and, to be perfectly honest, I would have accepted a lot less money early in the process to stay in Houston. But they told me they wanted to wait for the whole LeBron and Melo situation [to play out], which I understood. I just listened to them. I signed the best deal I could for my own career. ESPN.com

Two days before James announced to the world, in an essay co-written with Sports Illustrated's Lee Jenkins, he was indeed returning to the Cavs after four seasons on South Beach, Parsons and Dallas verbally agreed to a three-year deal that was a virtual three-year max. The Mavericks, sources said, would later learn the Rockets actually offered Parsons a two-year max deal, valued at more than $30 million, on that same day to stay in Houston. But Parsons elected to sign the Dallas offer sheet. "I was just very comfortable with those guys," Parsons said. "I know Mark will never let the Mavericks be bad. He's one of those owners that, if you get the chance to play for him, you gotta take it." ESPN.com

In one of his first interviews after Houston elected not to match the Mavericks' offer sheet to Parsons, Morey told SportsTalk 790 AM in Houston: "That structure of that [contract] is literally one of the most untradeable structures that I've ever seen." The wrinkle that made it so: Parsons signed a tricky three-year deal with the Mavs, with an option to return to free agency after Year 2, as opposed to the four-year offer sheet Dallas, or any other external suitor, could have lavished on him. Quite a difference that one year made. Parsons and his agent, Dan Fegan, were convinced they'd receive a meaty offer sheet as early as July 1 or, by the latest, July 5. But the four-year pitches being presented in those early days of free agency were all coming in well shy of max territory, thanks to Houston's effective campaign to convince the outside world the Rockets were going to match whatever came their way. ESPN.com

About a week into the process, Fegan decided it was time to try to propose something different. And that led him to the three-year construction, featuring the Year 2 player option and a maximum 15 percent trade kicker. He then took to it Cuban, convinced that the new formula would put the most pressure on Houston to let Parsons go if the Rockets hoped to maintain the utmost flexibility. For the following reasons: Players in the first year of a matched offer sheet can't be traded without their consent. With the ability to become a free agent after the second year, Parsons would likely have diminished trade value to small-market teams fearful he'd simply leave at the first opportunity ... while also potentially dissuading big-market teams that prize flexibility from trading for him and then seeing Parsons decide to opt in for the third year. The trade kicker in this contract could also prove to be even more expensive than usual, were Parsons to be dealt, if the salary cap rises as dramatically as some are projecting thanks to the TV money expected to pour into the league in the near future, as ESPN.com's Larry Coon explains in greater detail here. And in the Rockets' case specifically, Parsons' possession of an option to become a free agent in July 2016 meant he and Howard would likely be returning to the open market at the same time, which figured to be uncomfortable for Houston. ESPN.com

"It created the most amount of problems for them," Cuban said. "The trade kicker not only made [the contract] more expensive, but the opt out [after Year 2] could create a Kevin Love-type situation for any teams interested in trading for him, where you don't know if he's gonna opt in or opt out." The impact this three-year pact and its various complications had on Parsons' fate has some league observers wondering now if shorter contract offers from big-market teams to future restricted free agents, such as the San Antonio Spurs' Kawhi Leonard and Minnesota Timberwolves' Ricky Rubio if they make it to the open market next July, will become more commonplace. "The contract structure was extremely creative," Cavs general manager David Griffin said. "I think it will be a significant moment in the way restricted free agency discussions are handled in the future." Said Grizzlies general manager Chris Wallace: "The concept of a short-term offer sheet is intriguing and could be the wave of the future. With the reduction in the decision time to match reduced to three days, the team who writes an offer sheet is only out of action for a short period of time. [So] there is no downside. If the sheet is not matched, you have your player, and if it is matched, then the player will be back on the market soon, which increases the pool of players in free agency two or three years down the road." ESPN.com

 

THE TOP 50 PLAYERS IN ROCKETS HISTORY

Average height of the main three players is 6-foot-10. It's truly a big man franchise.

   

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