For a week now, we waited Rockets general manager Daryl Morey to say something about the three-way trade that was voided by NBA commissioner David Stern last Thursday.
Morey finally broke his silence Thursday and really said nothing, but maybe spoke volumes in doing so.
“On the advice of counsel I can’t talk about it,” Morey said when asked to address the situations during the team’s media day at the Toyota Center.
Morey was asked many creative ways to discuss the voided deal that would have sent Luis Scola, Kevin Martin and Goran Dragic to the New Orleans Hornets and in return the Rockets would have received Pau Gasol and the big fish Chris Paul would have ended up in a Los Angeles Lakers uniform.
Ultimately a deal did get done Wednesday that that sent Paul to the Los Angeles Clippers for some talented youngsters and a draft pick. The NBA, which owns the Hornets at this point, got what it wanted most and that was to keep value in the franchise with young cheap talent and draft picks for the future.
The Rockets, meanwhile, got crossed out of the deal and now are left to mend an uneasy relationship with three players everyone knows they don’t want.
“It was an unfair situation for Luis, Kevin and Goran,” Morey said. “They are professional just like the rest of our team. We love those guys and I’m sorry they got caught up in it.”
So where do the Rockets go from here? Working another trade that includes Scola, Martin and Dragic seems the best move but at this stage it’s unlikely.
“Even though I can’t comment, (Rockets owner Leslie Alexander) and I are fighting hard for the Rockets organization and our goal doesn’t change to continue to make this team better,” Morey said. “Mr. Alexander has a history of making moves and trying to get us in position to be championship contender. That’s what we are still going to do.
“We like what we are seeing with these guys here and we will continue to play hard.”
Still we keep coming back to what Morey alluded to at the beginning of the question and answer period with the media and that is he is under the advisement of counsel. There doesn’t seem to be anything legally wrong with what Stern pulled last Thursday.
It just reeks of a man whose power or sorely misguided.
The idea of looking into legal actions also seems odd because technically the Rockets would be taking actions against themselves, as well, since each team holds a piece of the Hornets and everyone has a vested interest in getting the greatest value possible when the New Orleans franchise is sold.
So what gives?
“I will just say right now, I understand the focus but I just can’t comment right now,” Morey said.
Certainly Morey and the organization are still smarting, not so much on losing out on Gasol but on the moves they now can’t make via a trade or free agency because they couldn’t unload salaries. Chuck Hayes now gone to Sacramento and Nene remained in Denver.
The Rockets have $9 million in salary cap room and really not anyone interesting to spend it on right now. But this is the NBA and this is a season of odd occurrences so you never know.
There is a train of thought to play the season with this group of players and see how they fit into new coach Kevin McHale’s system.
“We are always focused on improving the team any way we can. I think, as I’ve said many times, we feel like trade and the draft are the best way. We absolutely look at free agents, as well. We are going to continue to look at that. We feel comfortable going into the season with this group. There are some strategic players that we might still be able to add but we feel comfortable with the players we have right now.”