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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The media has mixed feelings about the James Harden trade. Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

James Harden was 100-percent exactly right earlier this week when he said the Houston Rockets were "just not good enough."

How could they be? Not when their moody superstar scorer, who makes about half a million dollars per game, shows up chubby, looking like a kielbasa about to explode in the microwave. Hey, some people eat when they're unhappy, it's a defense mechanism. In Harden's case, the only defense he's exhibited this season. At least he had a good excuse for missing pre-season training camp and alienating his teammates - he was busy partying with Cinnamon and Cherish in Atlanta and Vegas without a mask. Worst of all, he went into the tank his last four games in a Rockets uniform, standing around, arms folded, scoring fewer than 20 points each time, all Rockets losses. Fans in the front row were asking him to move, he was blocking their view of players who cared about winning. James Harden sabotaged his own team, a team that offered him $50 million a year to stay. Something that crazy could only happen in professional sports these days.

There's a saying that drives the American labor movement: "a fair day's wage for a fair day's work." It's the motto of the American Federation of Labor. The National Basketball Players Association is not a member. Harden's sulking on the court, cheating the Rockets and their fans, was unforgivable.

Harden, sitting out games while somehow being on the court, forced the Rockets to trade him - and quick - to Brooklyn. The trade, when you ignore the fine print and unindicted co-conspirators Cleveland and Indiana, sent Harden to Brooklyn in exchange for Caris LeVert (immediately flipped for Victor Oladipo), Jarrett Allen, three first-round draft picks and four swapped first-rounders. It's true, when you trade a superstar, you never get back equal value. The other team wins.

If it makes Rockets fans feel any better, the media in New York already has problems with their new problem child. I should say newest problem child. Kyrie Irving plays for the Nets.

"They (the Nets) gave up everybody! There's nothing left now. I just want to cry, It's awful," weeped WFAN Radio talk host Evan Roberts. For those who don't subscribe to weekly Arbitron ratings reports, WFAN is the most powerful, top-rated sports talk station in the Apple.

"You're leading down the road of doom. Harden and Durant could be gone in a year and a half. I'm not convinced this gives them a better chance to win a title. I'm living a nightmare again. They better freaking win."

Circle March 3 on your Rockets schedule. That's when the Brooklyn Nets, with their Big 3 of Kevin Durant, James Harden and possibly Kyrie Irving visit Toyota Center. I hear talk radio salivating over the record jeers that will cascade over Harden's name, although I'm not buying it. Fans don't think like the media does. I'm thinking that Rockets fans will welcome Harden back - one night only - with cheers.

Toyota Center public address announcer Matt Thomas: "Usually when former Rockets come to town for the first time since leaving, I give them a positive introduction. It's up to the fans how to react."

James Harden spent eight seasons with the Rockets. He is a spectacular player who watched other NBA players engineer trades so they could compete for a title. Harden didn't think the Rockets were good enough, and he's right. So he wanted out. We've all been there, a job we didn't like for a company we didn't like, for a boss we didn't respect. Harden wanting to be traded is understandable. How he went about it was deplorable. He hurt his co-workers.

Houston will make Harden pay for his disrespectful departure. He has an upscale restaurant set to open here. The name of the steakhouse will be "13." Harden's business partners may want to change that number ... before the restaurant's telephone number is disconnected. There are plenty of other restaurants in Houston. Rich people who can afford steakhouse prices hold grudges.

Rockets fans searching for a silver lining say, "We got two decent players and a whole bunch of precious first-round picks" for a malcontent who would rather be anywhere (except maybe Sacramento) than Houston." Yes, a bunch of first-round picks does bode well for the future. Anywhere, except maybe Houston.

Houston's draft war room isn't the most successful operation in the NBA. Over the past decade prior to 2000, under the direction of general manager Daryl Morey, the Rockets made 16 draft picks. Not one of them is still in a Rockets uniform, many of them have sought employment outside of America, some outside of basketball. Among their first-round whiffs: Nikola Mirotic, Terrence Jones, Sam Dekker - all out of the league. Best of all, Royce White, who played three whole games in his NBA career and finished with a scoring average of 0.00 points per game.

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