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Top Ten Things I Want This Offseason
WEDNESDAY, MAY 2, 2001   12:33 AM CT
By Jeff Balke
Copyright 2001
We all have things we want. I want $100 million, world peace and decent ranch dressing. Maybe you want something too like a better haircut or for Survivor to not survive another season. Ok, ok, that's me again. Well, it is my column! Anyway, here is my top ten list from the home office in Lexington, Kentucky of the things I want the Rockets to get or do this offseason.

10. Action Jackson

Call me nuts (ok, you're nuts!), but I see Marc Jackson as a filling a real need for the team even without other additions. The guy can rebound, play some D, post up well and he's still a young man. He also won't demand a ton of touches on the offensive end. I've heard arguments for Antonio Davis, but I want a true center who is closer to the age of our superstars and Jackson fills the bill.

9. More Jive Talkin' or I'm So White, I Can't Believe It

Personally, I like Steve Francis showing up on MTV's Cribs and Cuttino Mobley layin' down some hip hop in The Source magazine. It's fun and it is good pub for the team and the city. However, I don't want either of them doing anything unless bobrek can be their offical translator.

8. World Wide Webb

Chris Webber makes only number 8 on my list because I don't see him in the same light as many. I like the guy, but I just don't view him as the be-all, end-all for the Rockets. He would be fun to watch and he is at the peak of his game, but I just don't get goosebumps thinking about him. The Rockets have marked him as their number one target, but he may be the first free agent in a long while that could dramatically change the team if he is brought here but probably wouldn't hurt them if he didn't. If we can get him and it doesn't ruin the chemistry or handcuff the team with regards to signing other players, I say go for it. If not, I'll pass.

7. Be Good to the Earth, Recycle

In this case, it is "Be Good to the Rockets" and the recycling being done is with players. More specifically, re-sign Mo Taylor, Moochie Norris and Hakeem Olajuwon. Ok, so it was a stretch. Gimme a break, it's late!

Taylor proved he is valuable on offense and has terrific chemistry with the young players on this team. Even if Webber signs, keeping Taylor should be a priority. Norris MUST be back but for more than just his look (see below). He is a fantastic compliment to Francis and a leader on the floor. It doesn't hurt that the fans love him either.

Most importantly, bring back Olajuwon. No doubt he will want more than the veteran's exception especially since he hired an agent, but Dream is as much a part of Houston as Buffalo Bayou, NASA and the beer can house. Bring him back.

6. A Quiet Wave Goodbye

Shandon Anderson and Carlos Rogers are both solid players but neither fit with this team. Anderson is a great guy and a tough defender but he is going to want more money than the guy that took his job (Mobley) and that isn't going to happen. I know I'm going to take some heat for waving goodbye to Rogers, but the Rockets have no choice. Rogers is a solid role player and a heck of a nice guy, but he can't stay healthy and is out of place in Houston. Bon voyage and best of luck to both of them!

5. Get on the Phone to Monty Hall (or Let's Make a Deal)

The Rockets have so many options, it is almost ridiculous. They have three first round draft picks, several tradeable commodities and tons of cap space. Alone, any of those could turn into a good deal for the Rockets. Together, the possibilities are endless. I wouldn't be surprised if Rudy T. and Carroll Dawson are more confused by the options than happy with them.

Priorities should include dumping salary by moving players like Kelvin Cato and Walt Williams (Cato is a bust here but he still has trade value and Williams no longer fits this team) and dealing one or two of the picks as a way to clear cap space and possibly move up in a draft loaded with talent right where the team needs it.

4. Pull a George Jefferson

In other words, mooove on uuuup - in the draft, that is. Using picks and even players to move up is something the Rockets should strongly consider. At 13, assuming they don't hit the lottery jackpot, they may be just out of range for players they really want. Getting into the top 10 would assure them of nabbing a player that could have a real impact. And speaking of Jefferson's...

3. Not George, not Thomas, but...

Richard Jefferson! I like Shane Battier and I'm impressed with Joe Johnson, but Jefferson is my man. What really makes me shiver isn't just his athleticism, but his defense and all-around play. He can pass, defend, leap to the ceiling and run the floor. If he improves his shot, he will be a stud. Most of all, the kid is tough as nails and strong as an ox. He would be the perfect compliment to Francis and Mobley. Can you imagine Francis, Mobley, Jefferson and Webber on the floor together? Ok, nevermind, I don't want to think about it.

2. Secure the Franchise

No one has discussed it yet and I'm sure many of us are afraid to, but Francis will be a free agent before too much longer. After next season, the Rockets can begin talking long-term deal and I strongly urge them to start thinking about it sooner rather than later.

1. Jungle Boogie

Bring back the 70's! Gimme some bell bottoms, a little P Funk and one giant afro! If we all aren't wearing fro's by mid season next year, something is seriously wrong in Clutch City. Charlotte has their headbands. Dallas has their personal translators. Portland has their mug shots. Ever since Clutch, Kagy and I saw Moochie decked out like Jimi Hendrix after the last game of the season, I realize that the fro must be our new adornment and Moochie must wear it every game! Groovy, man.

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