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Offseason 2001 Loaded with Promise for Rockets
WEDNESDAY, MAY 2, 2001   10:29 PM CT
By Clutch
Copyright 2001 ClutchFans.net
How much can the Rockets clear off the cap for Webber?
By: davo of the Clutch BBS

The absolute minimum payroll the Rockets could attain, by renouncing all free agents, all exceptions and either renouncing or trading all draft picks is around $32 million.

With the salary cap estimated to be around $43 million for 2001/2002, this would give the Rockets about $11 million to pursue free agents. Would this be enough to pursue Chris Webber? I don’t think so. As an 8 year veteran, Webber will demand the maximum of around $12 Million. Even if we can squeeze him in under the cap, that would leave us only 9 players under contract and no exceptions to sign any one else. All other players would have to be free agents signed to the minimum. Hello Pig Miller. Of course this all assumes that the Rockets stick with the current contracted players and no-one is traded. If we traded Walt Williams or Kelvin Cato the picture will change, but you have to assume that we would get equal value back for them.

I personally think that Webber will not sign as a free agent anywhere, but will rather do a sign and trade with Sacramento to a club of Webber's choosing. So a sign and trade is a realistic option for Houston to get Webber, especially if we are somewhat under the cap, and Sacramento does not have to take any baggage in the deal. He would not come cheap though – Houston would have to offer something decent in order for Sacramento to be interested.

Oh yes, Offseason 2001 should be a doozie for the Rockets.

After the NBA unleashed new rules allowing zone defenses in the league (aka the "Stop Rudy T" rules) for 2001-2002, the Rockets' brass no doubt got to work and possibly even changed early plans for this offseason. After all, the new rules could make different kinds of players valuable, and others less important.

However there is one player very important to the Rockets, zone or no zone, and that's Chris Webber.

The Sacramento Kings' 6'10" 250 pound big man is the prize free agent this summer and the Rockets, expecting to clear millions in cap room, are licking their chops.

Do the Rockets have a realistic shot at Webber? That remains to be seen. New York appears to be his top choice, playing alongside buddy Latrell Sprewell. Orlando is trying to lure him there. No doubt Miami will be interested and Sacramento can still offer him more money than anyone, continuing to play on the young, explosive ballclub.

Sources have been telling us since January: It's all geared towards Webber. He will be the Rockets' primary focus this summer. Do not be deceived: Until CWebb tells Carroll Dawson to place phone calls elsewhere, they will go all out to sign him. Most don't give the Rockets a realistic shot, but the organization believes they can get him.

So is this adios, Mo Taylor?
Not at all. Any pursuit of Webber shouldn't send the wrong signals to Maurice Taylor. The Rockets like Taylor a great deal and he loves it here as well. No matter how unlikely it is, any successful courtship of Webber doesn't necessarily end Taylor's tenure in Houston. One source tells us that scenarios that would land Webber and keep Taylor in Houston have been considered, though that would take a sign-and-trade with Sacramento.

All I know is I wouldn't want to be the one responsible for that creative financing.

Who stays and who goes?
Carlos Rogers is gone. He will not be asked back with the team. 'Los was a hard worker on the floor and didn't seem to get a fair shake, but for some reason he couldn't get in to the rotation consistently with Rudy T and his roster spot will go elsewhere.

Moochie Norris is expected back with the team, though you can bet a few teams will come knocking on his door. Moochie proved to be a very capable backup to Steve Francis and lets face it: the 'fro itself puts asses in the seats.

The Rockets will continue to look to move Kelvin Cato. That's a song and dance we've heard before, but if all goes well Cato won't be a Houston Rocket in 2001-2002. In fact, ClutchCity.net will be holding a group prayer on Thursday, May 10 2001 in the hope that Cato's lazy, overpaid ass will be shipped elsewhere, preferably somewhere freezing cold and without indoor plumbing.

Pray my brethren, pray hard.

A name you will hear a lot: Dan Fegan
Why in the world Hakeem Olajuwon picked this guy as his new agent is a mystery, but now the Rockets will be dealing with Fegan for Dream and Shandon Anderson. Several sources tip us off with info, but amazingly enough, all is dead quiet in regards to Dream and Shandon.

Will Anderson opt-out of his deal, looking to reel in a more lucrative contract with the Rockets?

As much as I personally like Anderson, we get the feeling the Rockets haven't been overly impressed. If he opts out and wants more money than Cuttino Mobley signed for (an Early Bird contract worth $31 million over 6 years), he may be on the first train to elsewhere.

As for Dream, that's anyone's guess. The signing of Fegan as his agent means he's not just taking some veteran's exception from the Rockets, which is all they would probably offer. He means business. Peter Vecsey's report that the Rockets will sign-and-trade him to Miami is garbage, but look for the Heat, Lakers, Suns and possibly the Magic to make that call... that is if Michael Jordan and Charles Barkley don't get him in Washington first.

Feeling an Early Draft
Barring a lotto miracle, which would give them a top 3 pick, the Rockets will be selecting 13th, 18th and 22nd in this year's draft. Three first rounders in what could be a good draft (damn, and we thought last year's draft chat at ClutchCity.net was the "Mother of all Chats").

Despite the initial thought that the Rockets are overjoyed with this development, rumor has it that's not the case. The plans to pursue Webber are for real and the Rockets, whether they get the star forward or not, will need all the cap flexibility they can muster. First round picks are guaranteed salaries for three years and sources tell us the team would like to unload 1 or 2 of those picks in the hopes of moving up.

The Rockets are in a situation not unlike Orlando's last season. In fact, the way the Magic executed last year's draft would be ideal for Houston. Orlando, needing cap room to pursue Tracy McGrady, Tim Duncan and Grant Hill, unloaded the 10th and 13th picks in the draft for future picks and cap room, unloading the likes of Corey Maggette and Derek Strong.

Make no mistake, the Rockets will be targeting a small forward in this draft. The Shandon Anderson situation is up in the air, Walt Williams is one-dimensional and Dan Langhi is still a young pup just looking to come off the bench.

Two names already being thrown around are Duke's Shane Battier and Arizona's Richard Jefferson.

Shane Battier
Battier was the AP Player of the Year, Naismith Award winner and Wooden Award winner, leading Duke to the NCAA championship. The 6'8" forward also won two Defensive Player of the Year awards in his stint at Duke and is an offensive threat as well, from both the inside and outside. Battier, who averaged 19.9 points, 7.3 rebounds, 1.8 assists, 2.1 steals and 2.3 blocked shots this season, helping Duke to a 35-4 record, would be a very good fit for a Rockets team looking for intangibles out of the three spot.

Richard Jefferson
Jefferson on the other hand doesn't possess the all-around game that Battier sports, but he's a tremendous athlete and defender. He's extremely strong for his size and will attack the basket relentlessly. His stock took a huge jump after terrific showings in the NCAA Tournament, helping Arizona to the title game against Duke. The 6'7" leaper would also be a great pick for the Rockets.

Few other names you will hear a lot of are 6'9" SF Rodney White out of Charlotte and Arkansas' 6'9" sophomore forward Joe Johnson.

Full draft coverage at ClutchCity.net is coming...

And in Closing...
Signing Scottie Pippen... $80 million
Seeing him have no one to blame this time? PRICELESS
Lets recap...

When the Rockets traded Scottie Quitten to the Blazers, Portland fans swarmed the BBS, insisting Scottie was "the man". A champion. A true All-Star. It was all Houston's fault and he was simply poorly handled by Rudy T.

We tried to warn them.

In two years, Jordan's caddie has turned a contending Portland Trailblazers' team, priding itself on chemistry at the time, in to a bickering bunch of babies. When they needed leadersip, they had none. He whined about being "misused" in Portland's offense. He called it the "worst season of his career". Then he promptly went out and got swept by the Lakers in the first round of the playoffs (I mean hell Scottie, atleast in Houston we won one of those games).

We're talking about a guy who simply handed over a playoff game to the Lakers with a turnover and went out and blamed Charles Barkley after the game. Does anyone question why the Rockets unloaded this waste now?

Sorry Scottie, Charles' "fat ass" isn't there this time to take the blame. Now maybe those in Portland know why we say a few things here at ClutchCity.net: Loud. Proud. Original...

And 100% Quitten-Free, baby.

Good luck trying to dump off the bitch... and that bloated contract.

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