THE PALLILOG

Here's how a lockout could impact free agency for Carlos Correa, Astros

The collective bargaining agreement expires December 1st. Composite image by Jack Brame.

Winning a silver medal at the Olympics is a tremendous achievement. It is only disappointing when compared specifically to winning the gold. The "second place is just first loser" position is stupid, if an amusing phrase. The Astros losing the World Series for the second time in three years was disappointing for them and all Astros' fans, but getting there for the third time in five years was spectacular. The Braves were clearly the better team over the run of the series and them winning it is a very, very minor upset. There is nothing to be learned from it for the Astros unless "hit and pitch better" are learning points.

So now what? The white-hot front burner story is the Carlos Correa watch. How many years, how many dollars, and of course, with what team? Correa can cut a deal as soon as Sunday night. As opposed to the NFL and NBA, typically in baseball the megadollar free agent deals don't happen when the green flag for signings drops. This is not a typical start to free agency however. The collective bargaining agreement between the players and owners expires December 1st. Without a deal a lockout ensues. Along with shutting off dealmaking, a lockout raises the possibility of an ugly drawn out negotiation that disrupts the start of next season, in turn raising the spectre of significant financial damage going forward. You'd like to think the two sides wouldn't be so stupid as to get there but we'll see. If that were to occur what would that mean for the money landscape? With that in mind does Correa lock in a deal before December 1? It's not as if his soon-to-be son's college fund is riding on it, but it's a consideration.

Let's say Correa commands eight years 250 million dollars. That's three years and 125 million more dollars than the Astros' last offer back in the spring. Would Jim Crane and partners swallow hard and go that far? How would Correa respond to Astros' willingness to match a quarter billion dollar offer as opposed to originating it themselves? Correa has talked of his Astros tenure in the past tense. Is that in part preparing himself for a reality of moving on if the Astros' offer is non-competitive? Is it strictly most years, most dollars? Does he want to become "The Man" elsewhere such as a Detroit or Seattle?

Unless accepting that the end years of the deal will be at least somewhat sunk cost, a team would be silly to offer longer than eight years. Even eight is pushing it. Correa is a big guy. It would be unprecedented for him to be an elite defensive shortstop at 34 or 35 years old. He certainly could move to third base or first base or left field as he ages, but Correa's premium value is because he plays a stellar shortstop in addition to usually being a very good offensive player. He is not an offensive superstar.

Full steam ahead for Texans and Rockets, kind of

The Astros' 2022 season is scheduled to open March 31 (please, please, please!) In the meantime we have the Texans and the Rockets. Gawd. They both enter the weekend with records of 1-7. The Texans Travesty drones on with the passing of the trade deadline and nothing happening with Deshaun Watson. Reports a couple weeks ago of a deal with the Dolphins being close were obviously bogus. No one was ponying up anything close to what Nick Caserio was seeking, so Watson will make his full 11.2 million dollar salary to never play this season.

Reminder, the Rockets are paying John Wall over 44 mil to never play this season. However, with their rebuild underway, while the Rockets won't be good for a while, they are not the laughingstock organization of their sport.

It feels more like 40 seasons ago than four that Chris Paul helped the Rockets get closer to the NBA Finals than they've otherwise been in the last quarter century. Before helping the Phoenix Suns beat the Rockets Thursday, Paul this week jumped Steve Nash for third on the NBA all-time assists list. Going forward, if Paul averaged 10 assists per game and never missed a game until he turns 42, he still wouldn't catch John Stockton for number one. The assists gap from Stockton to CP3 (with Jason Kidd in between) is larger than the gap between Paul and Jose Calderon who is 63rd. No Rocket fan favorite, and like Paul, NBA championship ring-less, but Stockton was amazing.

Buzzer Beaters:

1. The college basketball season starts Tuesday. Yes! Off its Final Four run UH opens ranked 15th. Kelvin Sampson's team is different but I'd bet a small fortune they will D up, pound the boards, and be pretty, pretty, pretty good. Final Four again? Of course not likely, but not impossible.

2. Had Watson been traded to the Dolphins a couple weeks ago he'd play against the Texans Sunday. THAT would have been a must-watch. Instead, the 1-7 Texans at the 1-7 Dolphins? Run! Run away!

3. Greatest Dolphins: Bronze-Artis Gilmore Silver-Dan Marino Gold-Flipper

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Jae'Sean Tate had himself a night. Photo by Carmen Mandato/Getty Images.

No Christian Wood. No Kevin Porter Jr. No Jalen Green. No problem. Jae’ Sean Tate became a complete superhero for the Houston Rockets versus the Oklahoma City Thunder on Wednesday night.

He recorded 32 points, 10 rebounds, 7.0 assists, 5.0 blocks, and 2.0 steals and shot 73 percent from the field. With that stat line, he joined former Rocket Hakeem Olajuwon and other historic big men from the past, which Tim MacMahon reported.

Tate is known for his leadership and the ability to be humble. When a reporter asked Tate about the stat line, he said, “How many turnovers? Nah, 25 assists, that’s what sup! Can’t be mad at that.” An expression like that shows the importance of putting his teammates first before taking all the shine. Tate is providing more passion with communication and being the rock that the "Baby Rockets" can lean on.

Coach Silas' confidence in Tate is something built from last year and it shows. Those two have constant dialogue throughout the game, and it’s seen before the huddle or when Silas is standing on the sideline before he calls a play. Silas has run consistent sets for Tate, as he did that within the 15-game losing streak. He dialed up an out of bounds action with 33.4 seconds left, so Tate could make a clutch layup towards the rim.

“Long, long, long ago in his rookie year…we definitely have a bond and with those two guys out, we needed some scoring,” Silas said. “He was the guy who was playing the hardest from start to finish and down the stretch we ran that elbow iso for him. And he just went through his defender and finished. And he made some huge plays in the 4th quarter, which is what you need. Yeah, I trust him as much as anybody else, and he has earned that, and he deserves it.”

“That just shows the confidence Coach Silas, and my teammates have in me,” said Tate. “We lost some of our primary guys tonight. And not only me, but everybody also stepped up.”

His usage rating is slowly going up, which is posted at 18.9 percent per NBA stats. In isolation, Tate is averaging 1.00 points per possession, which puts him in the 75th percentile(!) per NBA stats. Tate is seeing more action out of the corner, so it can allow him to get to his left hand on offense. The elbow iso action is a play that Tate has run since high school, college, overseas, and in the NBA now. He mentioned that the set allows him to get comfortable when his number is called.

“That’s not my primary role and I think everyone knows that,” Tate said. “I am very confident [in] what I bring to the table offensively. Not only scoring wise but seeing the floor and being able to make [a] decision in space. And that kind of helps me when they overlook the scouting report.”

“[I've] been running that play since I was [in] high school. At Ohio St. I ran that. Even when I was overseas, Will Weaver, that was a play he put in. To have that called tonight, it felt familiar and it’s one of my strengths. And playing in the mid-post area and getting to my left hand.”

Tate was excellent for the Rockets on both sides of the ball, as he had a 116.9 offensive and 108.5 defensive rating with an 82.5 percent in true shooting versus the Thunder. Hopefully, Tate can be the leading catalyst again, as the Rockets face the Orlando Magic and New Orleans Pelicans, which are winnable games. It should become a six-game winning streak, as John Wall might play if his condition is right.

Up next: The Rockets face the Orlando Magic on Friday night.

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