Team opts for bargains over flash

Texans fans melting down over free agency: Don't panic (or do, a little)

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On the surface, the Houston Texans have some work to do in free agency. But despite what you read on Twitter, the sky is not falling because they did not dive in the first day with high profile signings.

To quote the cover of The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy...Don't Panic.

Yes, they lost both Tyrann Mathieu and Kareem Jackson in free agency, but Jackson was not part of their future plans. They wanted to keep Mathieu, but were not willing to pay top dollar. Instead they signed former Jaguar Tashaun Gipson at roughly half the price.

At best, it is a break even move. But Gipson comes much cheaper than Matthieu ($14 million per season) and Jackson ($11 million). He also specializes in covering tight ends, which the Texans have struggled with for years. Is he better than Mathieu? Probably not. But is the drop-off that extreme? Not at all.

Adding help

Denver Broncos v Kansas City Chiefs

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They also added former Broncos corner Bradley Roby. He has been inconsistent, but is young and has upside. He should replace Jackson. He is one a one-year, $10 million prove it deal, much like Matthieu signed last year. Is he perfect? No, but no one in free agency is. These are two smart, low risk high reward signings.

More to come?

Jonathan Joseph

Jonathan Joseph is old.

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Are they done yet? They should not be. But adding another cornerback after Tuesday's signings - perhaps Pierre Dessir - at least gives them serviceable players at the position. Adding those to Jonathan Joseph, who is closer to the NFL graveyard than being an elite corner, and free-agent bust Aaron Colvin gives them at least some options at the position. Colvin was hurt and could be better, but they should not count on that. And they did not overspend for Roby.

Still problems

Texans offensive line The Texans offensive line has been in decline since 2014. Frederick Breedon/Getty Images

The offensive line, however, remains an abject mess. They needed to sign at least one decent player, and much like last year, they are down to scraps. They will have to nail the draft - something they have not done with offensive linemen - or next year will look a lot like last year. There is certainly cause for concern there unless they can make a deal or find a hidden gem. They tried that last year and we see how it worked out.

But at least they made an effort on one position group with decent, low-risk options. That should mitigate some of the panic.

It's hard watching teams like Cleveland push all their chips in the middle while the Texans plug holes with homeless guys. It is easy to panic. But free agency is not over. If this is all they do? Then they have failed. But there is still time. Let's wait it out.

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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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