Every-Thing Sports

Watson's comments and extension: Here's where they should go from here

Composite image by Jack Brame.

When it comes to contract negotiations, teams and players will use whatever leverage they have at their disposal. Whether it's a team leaking what they've offered a player to show fans and media that they offered something fair, or it's a player and his camp leaking details of the organization's unwillingness to meet reasonable demands, there's always a spin put on things.

Deshaun Watson has been a bit more outspoken than Texans fans are used to over the last few weeks. He's not only appeared at protests of social injustice, but he's also spoken out against such topics as well. Recently appearing on Carmelo Anthony's podcast, Watson has made comments saying he hasn't spoken to team owner Cal McNair about the recent events and going as far as suggesting conversations will be uncomfortable when everyone returns to the locker room. Couple this with the fact that Watson is looking to negotiate an extension, and you could be looking at a recipe for disaster.

Add all of that to the fact that head coach Bill O'Brien is also the general manager, and we could be looking at a flaming dumpster fire. So what could all of this mean for Watson and the Texans moving forward? Here's what I'm thinking:

Watson's alleged preferences

We've heard through the grapevine that Watson prefers a shorter deal than the 10 year/503 million dollar deal Pat Mahomes has signed. There's a few reasons I agree with this sentiment. For one: it allows him to reset and reenter the market. A shorter deal, potentially with more guaranteed money, allows him to see the landscape and sign another deal making more money while Mahomes is still under his long-term deal.

Good business sense

Seeing as how the current racial/social climate is, Watson knows he's holding the cards. Add that to the fact that the organization traded the best receiver he had in a decision to move in a different direction, Watson is clearly in the driver's seat when it comes to the business end of things. If he follows the Russell Wilson model, he can reset the market every three to five years when it comes to quarterback extensions. Wilson has roughly 70-plus percent of his four-year deal guaranteed, whereas Mahomes has only 12.5 percent of his deal guaranteed. While one is a four-year deal and the other is ten years, you can see why Watson would prefer the shorter term deal with more guarantees.

Social injustice playing a part

When Bill O'Brien came out and said he'd kneel and support his players, I wasn't too surprised. A guy in his position should be willing to do anything he can to support the guys that have afforded him the power and job security he's acquired. The organization has put out a series of sit-downs on their website with ownership and several former players and dignitaries talking about social injustice. How Cal McNair reacts to being called out by Watson will play a huge part in this process. If he reacts in a manner that is pleasing to Watson, he'll most likely re-sign. But if he reacts in a manner that Watson deems anything less than acceptable, he won't be back.

Watson holds all the cards here. The Texans know it, and so does the general public. We've seen Bill O'Brien fumble personnel moves since being installed as the general manager. This contract negotiation needs to be different in order to save this franchise. While I don't expect Watson to set a new market for quarterback contracts, I do expect him to be fairly compensated. Something along the lines of what Russell Wilson got, but with a bump in overall value and guaranteed money seems fair in my eyes. A four-year deal worth $144 million with $108 million fully guaranteed is what I'm thinking. This way, Watson can say he has the second highest annual average ($36 million) and the most fully guaranteed money at the time of signing (Mahomes only has $63 million of his whopper deal fully guaranteed). Will cooler heads prevail? Or, will this franchise suffer another devastating loss due to stupidity?

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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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