Time for a move?

Fred Faour: As strange as it sounds, Texans trading Jadeveon Clowney makes sense in a lot of ways

Jadeveon Clowney is having a big year. Should the Texans consider moving him? Photo by Michelle Watson/Catchlight Group

It might seem silly on the surface to suggest trading your best defensive player. But now might be the time for the Texans to cash in on a deal for Jadeveon Clowney -- before he cashes in himself.

Clowney has been one of the lone bright spots for the Texans in an otherwise dismal year. He has been a force all year, with a career-high nine sacks and is second in the league in tackles for loss. His value has never been higher.

He has one year left on a contract that will pay him over $13 million next year and will likely become the highest paid defensive player in the league when he gets his new deal. But if you are the Texans, does it make sense to pay him that much when you already have significant money tied up in J.J. Watt? Presumably, Watt will return healthy next season, although he may never be what he was. The defense will also get Whitney Mercilus back. Should there be a coaching change, it’s possible you would have three players all making huge money as pass rushers. Does that make fiscal sense?

The Texans have significant holes on the offensive line and secondary and will have to hit the reset button on several veteran players on defense. They have no early picks in this year’s draft and will have to commit money through free agency. While they have solid salary cap room, a Clowney trade could give them even more flexibility.

The pros and cons

The other key reasons to do it:

  1. Clowney may never be any better than he is right now, and you will have to commit significant dollars to keep him.

  2. As good as he has been, it has not helped. The team and the defense have been dreadful.

  3. Another team might offer a No. 1 pick to replace the one the Texans traded, and possibly a player as well who can help the OL or secondary.

  4. The Texans have always been good at finding D Linemen and linebackers. While you won’t get the same quality, you can mitigate his loss.

  5. He is the one player on the roster with the contract status and value to get back a significant return.

There are reasons not to move Clowney as well:

  1. There is no guarantee Watt will ever be healthy again, much less the dominant force he was before.

  2. Clowney is a rare talent and with more help he could get even better.

  3. You simply don’t trade your best players in the NFL. Deals like this are rare, although we have seen a lot more lately. 

In the end, however, the potential return outweighs those factors. Obviously, you would have to get a first round pick, another pick and a plug and play starter at a position of need, just to get the conversation started. Some might suggest dealing Watt instead, but after missing most of the last two seasons, he would have little trade value, and his onerous contract makes moving him almost impossible.

As silly as it sounds, the Texans best move might be to move on from their best defensive player and trade Clowney.

Johnny’s back?

In case you missed it, Johnny Manziel has been cleared to play football in the CFL and sign a contract. Details in my SportsMap story here.

Some fun stuff

If you like some non-sportsy things, check out my update on Houstonsportsandstuff.com. Making fun of a perceived slight, some TV news, gambling updates and more. And follow me on Twitter @fredfaour

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ROCKETS BEAT THUNDER

Rockets blast Thunder in home opener, 124-91

Rockets take care of business in home opener. Photo by Tim Warner/Getty Images.

The Houston Rockets had an impressive outing versus the Oklahoma City Thunder after an embarrassing loss against the Minnesota Timberwolves Wednesday night. They took care of business at home on Friday night, which was a surprising blowout. The Rockets didn't have to worry about Karl-Anthony Towns screaming at Alperen Sengun or Anthony Edwards telling Coach Silas to call a timeout. Instead, they took their frustrations out on the Thunder (another younger core).

"We responded and bounced back from that game 1," Silas said. "I wouldn't say it was taking anything out. It was just learning and applying to what you learn and that's going to be us this year. Applying to what you learn and getting better and having some games like we had the other day. Veteran teams have some games when they don't play as well they want."

Christian Wood led the way, as he controlled the paint on all aspects with rebounding and putbacks. He played an incredible game after having a poor performance versus the Timberwolves. Silas showed complete trust in allowing Wood to open sets, as he walked the ball down the court several times, and in transition too. Wood became aggressive on the perimeter with open shooting and tough shots, and long strides towards the rim. He finished the night with 31 points and 13 rebounds off 66 percent shooting from the field.

The young core for the Thunder had a tough night defending Wood from every aspect. Hopefully, he keeps this play up. Silas loved the space that was created throughout the game for Wood, which included the help from Eric Gordon, as he continued to play better. Wood continues to develop underneath the Silas umbrella. He had a great feel for off-the-dribble shooting a few times. Wood becomes more dangerous when space is created on the court.

"It allows me to show what I can do. It allows the floor to be open and I can create for other guys and create for myself," Wood said.

As Gordon continues to impress, his teammate Kevin Porter Jr was amazed with his performance.

Gordon looked marvelous inside and outside of the paint, as it looked like a time ripple. The younger guards of the Thunder had a tough time staying in front of Gordon. His size and strength gave the Thunder a huge problem. Gordon is shooting the ball better too, as he is shooting the three-ball at 70 percent this season. Although it's a small sample size, Gordon is trying to overcome his shooting struggles from last year. Gordon finished with 22 points on 66 percent shooting versus the Thunder.

"EG is the biggest part of this squad," Porter said. He comes in and just scores. We need somebody off the bench to do that. He is our guy when me and J come out, it's EG time and he knows that, and comes in aggressive. So much energy on the bench, and we need that every night from him if we want a chance to win."

As I recently mentioned Porter, his facilitation did look better versus the Thunder than the Timberwolves. Porter had nine turnovers in his first game but managed to have two Friday night. He made great slip passes and found open teammates in the open corner. Porter forced a good number of passes versus the Timberwolves but looked more relaxed Friday night. The hardest position in the NBA is the point guard position, but Silas will not allow Porter to fail. Instead of nine turnovers, Porter dished out nine assists. Silas said:

"Bounce back right, going from nine turnovers to nine assists… I think he had two turnovers tonight, which is great. He is making plays for his teammates, and he was really focused."

Porter's shiftiness and creative ability allowed his teammates to get open looks near the rim. He had 18 points because of his step-back threes and first step going towards the basket. Thankfully, Porter is a great ball handler, which confuses defenders on different spots on the court. It's almost like watching a ballerina skate on ice in the Olympics. Hopefully, his confidence continues to get better throughout the year. Porter shot the three-ball at 50 percent tonight. Efficiency is key for Porter this year.

"I'm just trying to let the game slow down," Porter said. "I had a lot of turnovers last game and I just wanted to piggyback and learn from them and learn from some of my forced passes and reads. And sometimes I still force it a little bit. My guys hate that, and sometimes I'm still passive and I'm working on that. When to pass and score and bounce it out, and tonight I felt like I did a good job of that."

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