To Our Friends in Houston

Hello Houston fans, Rockets management, General Manager Morey.  It's just us Blazer fans stopping by to see how you're doing.  Hot enough for you?  Us too, actually.  It's above 100 here.  That's one of three things, along with snow and losses to the L*kers, that our city doesn't handle that well.  I guess you don't handle snow that well either, huh?  But then who does?  Except Timberwolves fans, that is.  I hear the last of their snow just left, eaten up by mosquitoes.

So, anyway, we wanted to talk to you about something.  We've been friends for a while now, right?  Well, I guess "friends" is stretching it a little between any two franchises.  But hey, we've at least been on decent terms.  There's always been respect between us. We've rooted for you every single time you've faced the L*kers in the playoffs.  When we lost to you in the first round this year most of us admitted straight out it was because you were the better team.  And hey, remember that thing back in '94 with Clyde Drexler?  That's right.  Hall-of-Famer.  Best player in our franchise's history.  We traded him to you for Otis Thorpe, if memory serves.  He played half a season for us before heading to Detroit.  Clyde helped you win it all and is still hanging around.

Actually, that's kind of what we wanted to talk to you about.  Back then we were coming to the end of an era while you guys were peaking.  It's funny how life turns around sometimes, isn't it?  We couldn't help but notice that right now you're going through a transition period.  We know it's not time to call it the end of an era for you because Yao Ming will surely be back at some point and he is the era.  But when he does come back the team is going to look different.  In fact it already looks radically different than it did even a year ago.  You guys are retooling for sure.  We, on the other hand, are starting to hit our stride.  It's not an exact parallel to 1994, but you can see the similarities, right?  Us too.

So, anyway...we just signed Philadelphia's Andre Miller to run the point position for us for a couple years.  We have plenty of youth and talent but we needed a little veteran savvy and know-how to make things gel.  And you know, we couldn't help but notice that you've got another nice veteran guy on your team, Shane Battier.  We know you love him.  We love him too.

See, here's the thing.  It would be really, really good for us to have Battier in the starting lineup on the other side of Brandon Roy.  Just think about this for a minute.  You have Miller's pure point-guardishness providing one veteran plank and Battier's defense, intelligence, and perfect blending ability providing the other.  Can you think of another couple of veterans better suited to play with Roy, LaMarcus Aldridge, and Greg Oden?  Battier would make up for all of the things we lack in acquiring Miller and would accentuate all the positives of his teammates.  It would be a thing of beauty...not just for us, for basketball itself.  Unselfishness, smarts, compatible skills...that starting lineup has it all.  Then you bring Joel Przybilla, Rudy Fernandez, and Nicolas Batum off the bench to provide some offensive and defensive support.  You can see the gorgeous possibilities there, right? 

And you know, that kind of scenario would be great for Shane too.  He's been a team guy his whole career, doing whatever needs to be done without complaint.  But he's getting older, Houston, and he's not really had the chance to go deep in the playoffs or play for a ring.  I know there are flashier names out there as far as starting lineups, but the "whole-is-greater-than-the-parts" aspect of that potential Blazer roster is off the charts.  This would be a team.  Can you think of a more ideal fit...a combination of needing Shane and at the same time being able to provide him the possibility of realizing his dreams?  We can't.  He'd be in heaven here.

We know the thought of parting with him causes you pain.  We know there's an instinctive, almost visceral "No" there.  But in reality Shane's not going to be the same player for you that he was when Yao and Tracy were suiting up on a regular basis.  You need more punch.  You need more youth...guys who won't just make it until Yao gets back, but for the years beyond too.  You're not looking at the next year or two as being your time.  That's farther down the road.  Battier's contract will be up by then and he'll be well along into his 30's.  He's just not the right fit for you anymore.

Maybe the players the Blazers are willing to offer aren't the perfect fit either.  We've liked Travis Outlaw, Jerryd Bayless, and Martell Webster, among others.  Naming them in this context isn't meant as an insult to them.  We're just kind of jammed up at a couple positions.  We have an overabundance of young-ish scorers.  We lack experienced defenders.  For us, we'd be trading apples for an orange.  But the apples are good! 

We know you'd be hoping for a LaMarcus Aldridge level offer for Shane, but at this point he's just not going to draw that.  But these guys we're talking about aren't chopped liver.  In fact we'd venture to say any of them would be more productive for you than Otis Thorpe was for us, and Shane Battier is wonderful but he's no Clyde Drexler.  You do remember that trade, don't you?

In case you're thinking you'd make a conference rival stronger, well, there's some truth to that.  But really we're only talking the next two years which, as we said, is not going to be prime time for you anyway.  After that Battier and Miller will be aged or gone and today's kids will be taking over.  Some of those will be ex-kids of ours, now on your roster.  It's really not that damaging to you.  More so to the Nuggets and L*kers and, dare we say, the Jazz?  Teams that have aspirations to be good immediately, those are the ones that would suffer.  I'm sure that Jazz fans would have some choice things to say about you sending Battier to one of their chief division rivals.  You can almost hear the squeal from Salt Lake now.  That's music to all of our ears, eh?

So come on, Houston, give us a call.  Pick out one or two of those young scorers.  Let's talk contracts.  Let's talk draft picks. Let's talk getting third teams involved.   Let's just talk, OK?  We're sure we can find a way to make everyone happy.  Don't do it just for us.  Heck, don't even do it just for yourselves.  Do it for Shane, and for beautiful basketball.  Some things are just right.  They make too much sense not to happen. 

--Dave (blazersub@yahoo.com)

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