PAUL MUTH

Rockets interest in Jimmy Butler makes perfect sense

Jimmy Butler would be a big acquisition for the Rockets. Tim Warner/Getty Images

Two weeks ago, the Houston Rockets were looking to get back to the Western Conference Finals. Today, they're looking for answers. As the Rockets welcome the return of Chris Paul back into the lineup, they do so in exchange for an injured James Harden and a team that could be staring at a 1-5 record by early next week. The answers are coming, but they might not make it in time.

The multitude of early season tweaks and pulls and twists and strains has become laughable, but their collective effect on the Rockets 1-3 record is anything but. A team with championship aspirations can't afford to be hamstrung (no pun intended) so early in the season.

Enter Daryl Morey, the Rockets’ savant general manager, who clearly sees the writing on the wall:

This is a great team, and this is their window.

Last night word leaked that the Rockets had offered four first round draft picks to the Minnesota Timberwolves in exchange for all star guard Jimmy Butler. A Houston team previously content to wait out Butler's high asking price had suddenly become very aggressive.

The move makes sense. The Rockets can survive with one or two guys out, teams do that all season long. When six guys are out though and your starters are forced into 40 minutes of playing time, it's easier to understand why the Jazz were able to run away with the game Tuesday at the end.

Charlie Pallilo said it best earlier this morning on his show: “It's not ok to overreact, but it's ok to react.” The truth is that the Rockets need reinforcements at the moment due to an unfortunate set of circumstances, and there happens to be a power shifting option staring them in the face.

I was neither here nor there when word initially broke that the Rockets were interested in acquiring Butler a few weeks ago. That's because the Rockets are reportedly interested in everyone all the time, and also because I saw a great team that would benefit but not necessarily need a third star to remain competitive. The situation has changed, however. Adding Butler isn't a move to put the Rockets over the top anymore. It's a move to keep them afloat.

Now is it too early to panic? Yes, absolutely. I still contend that, when healthy, this is one of the league's best teams. What these first four games have done, however, is expose the Rockets’depth (or lack thereof). A trade for Butler would address that issue in spades by allowing knicked up players to rest without sacrificing victories.

Whatever the case is, it's clear that the Rockets are all in on getting Butler now. I can't envision a scenario where acquiring such a top tier talent - provided he stays healthy - doesn't ultimately develop into a massive coup for the Rockets. Circumstances have a funny way of playing out, and the irony would not be lost in me if a Butler acquisition and possible title run were sparked by the worst possible way to start a season. A possibly great ending to a terrible beginning. Either way we'll find out sooner than later whether the Rockets will be welcoming Butler into the locker room.

Stay tuned.

 

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Houston is falling down the rankings

Tigers pound Odorizzi, Astros with homers as Houston drops fourth in a row

The Astros have not looked great in their last four games. Photo by Harry How/Getty Images

After watching their hot start of 6-1 cool down to a 6-4 record with three straight losses, the Astros returned to Minute Maid Park on Tuesday night, looking to do a better job at home against a beatable Tigers team.

Recent games' woes would continue, though, with Houston's pitching getting blasted by the opposing offense and their own bats primarily quiet.

Final Score: Tigers 8, Astros 2

Astros' Record: 6-5, tied for second in AL West

Winning Pitcher: Matthew Boyd (2-1)

Losing Pitcher: Jake Odorizzi (0-1)

Astros score first, then Tigers unload on Odorizzi

Houston looked to have something brewing in the bottom of the second, with three singles in the first four batters of the inning, the third an RBI-single by Myles Straw to put the Astros in front 1-0. However, Matthew Boyd would limit the damage, getting back-to-back strikeouts to end the threat.

After two easy innings for Jake Odorizzi in his regular-season debut for his new team, he would allow a game-tying solo homer to Akil Baddoo, his fourth of the year, in the top of the third. Detroit struck again in the top of the fourth, getting a leadoff double to set up a two-run go-ahead home run to jump ahead 3-1.

They didn't stop there, getting another two-run bomb later in the same inning; a frame that would take Odorizzi 31 pitches to get only one out before Houston would bring in Bryan Abreu to get the last two outs. Odorizzi's final line in his debut: 3.1 IP, 7 H, 5 ER, 3 HR, 0 BB, 4 K, 80 P.


Detroit continues home run parade, Houston loses fourth in a row

Abreu would hope to do what Luis Garcia did the night before, eat up as many innings as possible after a poor outing from Houston's starter. The Tigers would get yet another two-run homer, though, in the top of the fifth, extending their lead to 7-1, with all seven runs coming over a three-inning span. For good measure, they'd knock one more out with two outs in the top of the ninth, making it 8-1.

As far as Houston at the plate, other than their string of hits to bring in a run earlier in the second, they were getting nothing done against Boyd, who would go six and two-thirds innings. Detroit's bullpen would finish things off, despite an all-too-late sac fly by the Astros in the bottom of the ninth, with Houston dropping their fourth-straight game and continuing to lose ground in the division.

Up Next: The finale of this three-game set with Detroit will be an hour earlier on Wednesday, getting underway at 6:10 PM Central. Lance McCullers Jr. (1-0, 1.80 ERA) will try to maintain his perfect record and improve upon his two five-inning one-run starts for the Astros, going opposite of Michael Fulmer (0-0, 2.57 ERA) for the Tigers.

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