February 19, 2009
Rafer Alston headlines this deal. People know who he is, they know Orlando needs a point guard, and all the attention will be focused along those lines.
But the Houston Rockets made a huge move, here. Picking up Lowry, who is younger, better, and comes cheaper than Alston? Big, big move.
The Rockets also got Brian Cook, who badly needed a re-start to his career, while the Grizzlies get a first-round pick from Orlando. I wonder if the pick is deferred, or if there are some stipulations to it. You see, Memphis is trying to cut costs, at any, uh, cost. And a lower-rung first round pick (Orlando is due to select 27th in this June's Draft) comes with a guaranteed salary.
And that's fine, if you get the right player. But if the pickings are slim, and you get a second round-type talent that you have to pay guaranteed money for a few years, you're kind of left holding the bag. No matter what your salary structure is.
Coincidentally, the Grizzlies have the 27th selection in last year's Draft already on their team, in goofball big man Darrell Arthur.
Lowry is definitely worth a first-rounder, the guy can really contribute across the board, but I'd be surprised if the Grizzlies don't trade the pick come draft night. The team has the cap space to take on a good player without giving anyone up save for a draft choice, and even if the Grizz pass on making a big move, this pick seems due to sell off to a team like Portland.
Back to Alston. He can help the Magic, make no mistake, but I can't help but think the Magic would have been better served just sending Cook and a pick to Memphis for Lowry. The Grizzlies have the cap space to absorb the difference in salaries, Lowry is contributing more per-minute than Alston is, and he's nowhere near as inconsistent as Rafer can be.
I'm not trying to pump up Lowry to be more than he is, he's an average point guard with Kidd-like abilities on the glass, but Rockets fans should be quite chuffed with this move. Magic fans should be too, this is an upgrade over Anthony Johnson, but I can't help but think they should have gone for Lowry.