CARDS ON THE TABLE

Finally some real talk about the Watson saga’s most probable resolution

Texans Deshaun Watson
Here's where things stand with the Texans and Watson. Composite image by Jack Brame.

Last Saturday night, I got a call from a media buddy who's usually in the Texans know. He said, "I'm at NRG Stadium and Deshaun Watson could be traded tomorrow to the Miami Dolphins." I hit the Internet and sure enough from reliable sources: talks were heating up for Watson to be traded to Miami for three No. 1 picks and a pair of No. 2's.

The next day, the Dolphins denied a trade was imminent or even being discussed. The online rumor mill backed off. There was nothing brewing on the Deshaun Watson trade front.

So how did the Saturday night trade rumor start? An overeager sports writer looking for clicks? A team other than the Dolphins hoping the rumor, once shot down, would pressure the Texans into lowering their price for Watson? Or maybe it was Watson's camp trying to put a bug in the Dolphins' ear.

You know if you hear something enough times, you start to believe it's true. For example, Twinkies don't stay fresh forever – their shelf life is 45 days. Turkey doesn't have high levels of tryptophan and won't make you drowsy (sorry, Seinfeld). Undercover police working a massage parlor sting don't have to identify themselves as cops before you proposition them and take off your underpants. George Washington did not have wooden teeth. The hardest thing to do in sports is not hitting a 100-mph fastball. Actually, it takes more body control and faster reflexes to avoid getting hit by that pitch.

Here's where it stands with the Texans and Watson and how it likely will play out. If it's true that the Texans are asking for three first and two second-round picks for Watson, that's pie-in-the-sky crazy talk. That would have been a king's ransom in the best of times, before he was accused of sexual misconduct by multiple women. You know the score, 22 civil suits and 10 criminal investigations involving the Houston Police Department and FBI. Also the NFL is conducting its own investigation to see if Watson violated the league's personal conduct policy.

With all the legal turmoil surrounding Watson, there's only one team dumb enough to make such a precious offer for such a flawed player – and Watson already plays for that team.

Seeking three firsts and two seconds for a player facing a mountain of legal issues would be as ridiculous as trading one of the best wide receivers in the NFL for a worn-out, second-string running back and a bag of marbles. OK, bad example.

Ever watch Pawn Stars – you know the show, Rick Harrison, the Old Man, Big Hoss and Chumlee running a pawn shop in Las Vegas?

A guy walks in carrying an original handwritten copy of the Declaration of Independence. Harrison asks the guy, how much are you looking to get out of this?" The guy says, "This is an incredible artifact of American history. The document and all the signatures have been authenticated by the U.S. National Archives. It's been in my family since 1776. It's the real thing and I'm asking $500 million for it." The negotiation begins.

Harrison: "It's an incredible item, but look at the edges, they're yellow and frayed. And I'm going to have to get this framed, which will cost me money. If you had brought this in last year, I would have given you the $500 million. But I'll be honest, John Hancock doesn't sell like he used to. I'll give you $100 for it."

The guy says, "I was looking for $500 million but I guess a hundred bucks is fair. I need to get a new tire for my truck. You got a deal, let's shake on it."

That's how it is with Watson. If the Texans had offered him in a trade last year …

Now Watson is on the Texans 53-man roster but will be inactive each week until he's placed on the commissioner's exempt list, or suspended, or a trade is consummated or his legal problems vanish and he's cleared of all accusations. He really hasn't practiced with the Texans offense in training camp and didn't play in any pre-season games. Unlike Dirty Dancing, the Texans did put baby in a corner.

Watson reportedly has put the kibosh on a trade to Philadelphia, a team that has the draft capital to meet the Texans demands.

Philadelphia media says no thanks to Watson anyway. Watson saying no to the Eagles is like Pee-Wee Herman insisting the only acting job he'll accept is playing Hamlet. And the Royal Shakespeare Company in Stratford-upon-Avon says, uh, were we asking you?

A doomsday return might be two firsts and two seconds. The Texans would be smart to shake on it. Depending on how the wheels of justice grind, there could come a time when the Texans call teams dangling a bargain trade, and all they hear back is, in the words of Michael Corleone in Godfather 2, "My offer is this, nothing."

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Rockets defeat Clippers, 116-105 Photo by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images.

Rookie Cam Whitmore scored 21 points and the Houston Rockets beat the playoff-bound Los Angeles Clippers 116-105 on Sunday to finish at .500 season and avoid a fourth straight losing season.

Rookie Amen Thompson had a triple-double of 18 points, 11 rebounds and a career-high 10 assists for the already eliminated Rockets, who finished 41-41 in coach Ime Udoka's first season. Houston was 22-60 last year and 20-62 in 2022.

The Pacific Division champion and fourth-seeded Clippers are headed to the playoffs, where they'll meet Luka Donic and the fifth-seeded Dallas Mavericks in the first round next weekend.

Terance Mann scored 24 points and Amir Coffey added 18 for the Clippers in their last regular-season game at Crypto.com Arena. It's where they've juggled dates with the Lakers and NHL’s Kings since 1999. The team is moving to its new Intuit Dome in Inglewood next season.

The Clippers couldn't avoid their first three-game losing streak since James Harden's first game with the team, when they lost six in a row from Nov. 1-14.

Clippers superstar Kawhi Leonard missed his eighth straight game because of right knee inflammation. The team went 4-4 over that stretch.

Coach Tyronn Lue gave his usual opaque answers about Leonard’s status for the upcoming playoffs before the game. “We’ll see. He feels OK,” said Lue, who, when asked if Leonard has been working out, said, “He’s been doing a little something.”

Also sitting out for the Clippers were Paul George, Harden, Ivica Zubac, Russell Westbrook, Norman Powell and Bones Hyland, who scored a combined 64 points in his previous three games.

Xavier Moon had 14 points, six rebounds and six assists in his first career start for the Clippers. Moon, a 6-footer, beat 7-foot-4 Boban Marjanovic in a jump ball in the fourth. They matched up again and Marjanovic stuck out his long arm to poke the ball away from Moon.

“He's a big boy,” said Clippers assistant Dan Craig who coached the game, “but X got that jump ball against him.”

Marjanovic scored 13 points in 12 minutes of the fourth. The former Clipper delighted the fans when he smilingly missed two free throws to ensure they would receive free chicken sandwiches.

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