HOUSTON If the general manager of the Houston Rockets were in public office, Daryl Morey would be in big trouble this election cycle. Approval ratings would be way down. And it probably wouldnt even matter whom he was running against.
Are you better off now than you were even one year ago? Morey's opponent might say. No. One year ago you had Goran Dragic. Now you have Zoran Dragic. G comes before Z. So vote for me.
This has been an especially tough offseason for Morey, in the eyes of the public.
He let Goran Dragic, Kyle Lowry and Luis Scola go. The team currently does not have a center, unless you count rookie Donatas Motiejunas, who is probably more of a power forward. Morey offered a 25 million contract to someone named Omer Asik who averages three points per game. And, as usual, the Rockets have more tweeners than a Justin Bieber concert.
It is only July, and that needs to be constantly and dutifully emphasized, but the Rockets are much, much worse than they were in May.
Because of this, it is now widely assumed that anything Morey does is the wrong thing, simply beause hes the one doing it. The well has been poisoned.
Which brings us to the contract he offered New York Knicks point guard Jeremy Lin. The deal was reported to be for three years, 25 million, with 14.8 million of that coming in the final year. Lin is a restricted free agent, so the Knicks can match the offer and keep Lin, but they are not expected to do so. Lin is expected to become a 25 million Rocket.
And, like a doctors hammer just below the knee, the reaction was immediate and involuntary.
People keep focusing on the final year of Lin's deal, which is the wrong thing. Theyll compare it to the contract of someone like LeBron James, who makes 18.3 million per season, and correctly note that Lin is not nearly as good as James.
But look, Goran Dragic signed with the Phoenix Suns for 30 million over four years. Lowry is now with the Toronto Raptors under a four-year, 24 million deal. Russell Westbrooks contract with the Oklahoma Thunder is for five years, 80 million. Rajon Rondos with the Boston Celtics is for five years, 55 million. James contract is for six years, 110 million.
Jeremy Lin is not getting paid like a superstar. Lin is not going to make 14.8 million per season, hes going to make 8.3 million.
Carmelo Anthony can call the deal ridiculous, and that can make it seem OK for everybody else to call it ridiculous. But saying it doesnt make it true. A gallon of gas costs 3.30 where I live, and that seems ridiculous, too, but youre either going to pay that price or youre not going to be driving anywhere.
The market is what it is, and you cant blame the Rockets for participating in it. You want them living off the grid, foraging for wild berries and Estonian point guards?
Lin might not end up being a great player, but he doesnt have to be great to justify that contract. He just has to be a little bit better than Goran Dragic.
Yeah, the Rockets are taking a risk. Should they not? Should they just keep signing demonstrably solid players to respectable contracts and hoping to get lucky in the lottery?
The Rockets know how to finish right in the middle of the standings. The next step is either to get a lot better or get a lot worse.
The good news for Morey is that his position is appointed, not elected. Which means he doesnt have to be a slave to the whims of a frustrated fan base or a group-thinking media. He doesnt have to care what Carmelo Anthony thinks.
And he doesnt have to be popular. He just has to be right.