When the NBA season ended with the Toronto Raptors beating the Golden State Warriors, many saw it as an opportunity. The Warriors were hobbled by injuries to stars Klay Thompson and Kevin Durant, both of which were set to become unrestricted free agents. With Durant out for the following season and Thompson set to miss a good chink, it was like the scene from Rocky IV when Drago was cut. The machine was made human and looked vulnerable.
Enter Rockets GM Daryl Morey. He saw this as the opening he was looking for to finally take down the bully of the league. With rumors swirling of a Chris Paul/James Harden beef, Morey sought to improve the roster by any means necessary. More rumors circulated about who was/wasn't on the trade block when it was noted that the team was going after Jimmy Butler via sign and trade. Turns out, this was another swing and miss for Morey and the Rockets as Butler was dealt to the Miami Heat.
This was yet another big time talent that Morey failed to bring to Houston. Although his tenure has been an overall success, it has failed to yield an NBA title. That is the true and ultimate goal of anyone involved in pro sports who actually gives a damn. After watching Morey shoot his shot and consistently fall short, it got me to thinking: what does this remind me of?
The marriage proposal rejection guy
This has to be one of the worst feelings of rejection. Here you are poised to pop the question to the woman you want to spend the rest of your life with. You've bought the ring, planned everything about the evening out, and get down on one knee. You're the center of attention wherever you are. But when she says no, your world is crushed! You have to go back to the drawing board because there's no way you can continue a relationship with someone who feels that much differently from you. Some people never recover from this. Morey has been fortunate to recover, but he's damaged goods.
Woman left at the altar
It's finally here! it's your day! You have the ring, the dress, the venue, your bridesmaids, the cake, everything is all catered to you. That is until he fails to show up. You thought your fairy tale life was set to begin. However, he realized that hitching himself to you for eternity would be a mistake because he's not ready to settle down and have kids with someone who has as many commitment issues as you do. Morey sees players as assets instead of individuals. Until he can start to see the more human aspect of trades, he'll continue to get left at the altar.
For years you were the place to be when it came to spring/summer/fall fun in Houston. You could stay open for months on end because of the weather. Generations grew up knowing you were the go-to move when trying to pick up on or impress the opposite sex. But after years of the same ole same old, you failed to make the necessary changes and grew old and tired. Eventually, you had to close your doors and were forced to become a staging area for Rodeo temporary buildings until someone decides how and when you'll be developed. Morey is in danger of becoming old and stale if he can't give this team the proper facelift and wins a title.
Off brand products
Here you are on the shelf or stockroom of a random store or warehouse. You look very similar to the real Nike shoes, General Mills cereal, an Avenger action figure, or a Louis Vuitton purse. In reality, you're just a knock-off Air Max shoe, a box of Frosty Corn Flakes, a Revenger, or a pure imposter LV purse. You look really good in most cases. Sometimes, you can even pass for the real thing when unpackaged and compared to the real deal. But ultimately, you're notwhat most people look for when they want top of the line products. Morey has been the Great Value brand instead of the General Mills brand far too often. He's been the knock-off that people settle for because they've spent their money elsewhere, but they want to "look" like they can afford things they really can't. In other words: he hasn't had the money to sign or trade for top flight talent because he doesn't have the cap space or assets to make moves like that happen very often.
I'm so frustrated by the debacle that this team is in as far as roster flexibility is concerned. It'll take several years before the Rockets are in the position or draft or sign high end talent. Les Alexander told Morey he's not down for tanking and wanted to keep the team competitive while needing to rebuild. Tilman Fertitta bought the team when it was good enough to make the playoffs and already committed to Harden as a super max player. Morey has been known to wiggle his way in and out of sticky situations. He can recover from proposal rejection or being left at the altar. But can he avoid becoming an outdated relic or a knock-off version of the real deal? That is what Rockets fans want to see. For those who have stuck with this team so long and so deeply, I hope that Morey can turn this thing around enough to the point where he can be recognized as a viable brand and not a knock-off. this fanbase deserves as much. Will they get it from Morey is the ultimate question.
Ten months from free agency, José Altuve knew what he wanted.
“Houston is my home,” he said.
He achieved his goal to remain with the Astros, agreeing to a contract that will pay $125 million from 2025-29, when he will be 39.
“I have obviously two homes," he said Wednesday at a news conference, a day after the deal was announced. "I grew up in Venezuela, my country. Every time I go there, I tell my wife ‘Let’s go home.’ And then when it’s time to come back, I tell her ‘Let’s come back home.’”
An eight-time All-Star, two-time World Series champion and the 2017 AL MVP, Altuve had started to discuss free agency last year with wife Nina.
“I come back every day, after a night game, and I see my daughters sleeping," Altuve said. "I can wake up the next day and take them to school, so that was where the conversation where everything started, and we decided to stay here in Houston. We will never move from here.”
Houston Mayor John Whitmire declared Wednesday Jose Altuve Day, with the date, 2/7, matching Altuve’s jersey number. More than a dozen of Altuve’s teammates and coaches attended the news conference along with Hall of Fame second baseman Craig Biggio.
“Jose Altuve is the heartbeat of this organization,” Astros general manager Dana Brown said. “He’s a franchise player. He’s on pace to be in the Hall of Fame. He’s a fan favorite, and without a doubt, he’s the spark to our Clubhouse, to our dugout, and he’s an Astro for life.”
Altuve's deal raises his career earnings above $300 million, the most among second basemen. It was negotiated by Scott Boras, who also represents Astros third baseman Alex Bregman. Boras said he spoke with Brown on Wednesday about Bregman, who can become a free agent after the World Series.
“Alex has made it clear that he’s open to listening to whatever the Astros have to say,” Boras said.
Just 5-foot-6. Altuve is among the shortest big leaguers. He went to an Astros tryout and was sent home without a contract but returned the next day at the urging of his father. He signed for $15,000 as a 16-year old in 2007.
Altuve debut in 2011 in the first of three straight 100-plus-loss seasons and helped set a winning culture for a team that went on to World Series titles in 2017 and '22. The Astros have reached the AL Championship Series in seven straight seasons.
“ José does a lot of things that not a lot of people get to see,” Astros manager Joe Espada said, “I get to witness his ability to connect with his teammates, to lead a clubhouse, to when we need somebody to step up and speak up and he speaks, and how he commands the room.”
Altuve joked that he didn't remember the lean years on Wednesday but said they made him a better player.
“Obviously, nobody likes to lose, so I think as an organization we learned a lot from those games, and we did the transition," he said. "Now we are a winning team.”