You Are Viewing All Posts In The Houston Rockets Category

Rockets add another asset; Wolves get much-needed help on the wing

Decrease fontDecrease font
Enlarge fontEnlarge font

The Rockets love the combination of size, passing, defense and all-around game from small forward Chandler Parsons, the 38th pick in last year’s draft. They also love that they control Parsons’ rights for the next three years at a cost of less than $1 million per season. And so on Tuesday they agreed to acquire the 18th pick in the draft for Chase Budinger, who plays the same position as Parsons but will be eligible for a market-value contract in free agency a year from now. (Budinger, also a former second-round pick, will make $885,120 next season in the final year of his contract.)

The sexy storyline is Houston’s Dwight Howard end game: the possibility that the Rockets are trying to obtain a cache of first-round picks to dangle before the Magic, along with an expiring contract (probably shooting guard Kevin Martin’s) and salary-cap relief. Howard’s camp let it be known late Monday, via this David Aldridge piece on NBA.com, that Howard will not sign an extension in Houston after his contract runs out at the end of this season. But the star center’s camp has let a lot of things be known over the last 12 months, and these declarations aren’t worth much before Howard has had the (theoretical) chance to experience playing for Rockets coach Kevin McHale, working for a smart organization committed to winning or talking regression to the mean with general manager Daryl Morey.

The player’s camp, such as there is one monolithic “camp” here, can say what it wants now, but there is no way to know how Howard will take to Houston — or how much he’d end up valuing the extra few million dollars only his incumbent team will be able to offer on his next contract.

Read More…


  • Published On 12:05pm, Jun 26, 2012
  • Dwight Howard to Rockets? No surprise Houston is looking to be aggressive

    Decrease fontDecrease font
    Enlarge fontEnlarge font

    Point guard Kyle Lowry could be trade bait that Houston dangles to shake up its team. (Bill Baptist/NBAE via Getty Images)

    The most important four words in any report on a potential draft-day or predraft trade are: “No deal is imminent.” Still, the Rockets, flush with draft picks and cap flexibility, are always active in their search for a superstar, and so there is little reason to be skeptical of ESPN.com’s report that Houston is shopping the No. 14 and No. 16 selections for higher lottery picks via the Raptors (No. 8) and Kings (No. 5) — with an eye on a potential shot at Dwight Howard.

    The steps here are complex and may involve Houston’s surrendering point guard Kyle Lowry, who has perhaps the best contract in the league. Lowry will make just $5.75 million next season and $6.2 million in 2013-14, and as if that wasn’t enough of a bargain for a very good starting point guard, only $1 million of that $6.2 million is guaranteed, according to ShamSports. The Rockets would be the first ones to tell you that Lowry’s contract ratchets up his value to a place far beyond where his prodigious basketball skills alone might take it.

    The prospect of dealing Lowry for the Kings’ No. 5 pick or the Raptors’ No. 8 pick alone seems dicey, even factoring in Goran Dragic’s stellar two-way play during Lowry’s absence due to injuries and a bacterial infection. Dragic is an unrestricted free agent, leaving no guarantees he’ll return to Houston, and on the flip side, the Rockets are open to the idea that he and Lowry might be able to work effectively together. (Lowry doesn’t agree, and he isn’t keen on playing for coach Kevin McHale anymore, either.) Those lineups didn’t have much of an impact either way this season, but the sample size is small (316 minutes), and this season wasn’t exactly conducive to that kind of chemistry development.

    (Just a reminder: Houston got Dragic and a first-round pick from Phoenix in exchange for Aaron Brooks. Ouch.)

    Nevertheless, dealing Lowry for a mid-level lottery pick isn’t necessarily a bad outcome if the team is confident in Dragic’s return; the average production of a No. 8 or even No. 5 pick is exponentially lower than that of No. 1 or No. 2, but the ceiling remains quite high. The Rockets as constituted aren’t title contenders, and Lowry makes obvious sense for a Raptors team in need of a point guard to succeed Jose Calderon. Toronto’s Jerryd Bayless is a free agent, and though he finished last season on a scoring spree, the long-term track record suggests that he is not the post-Calderon solution. Lowry is better than Calderon now, particularly on defense (it’s a landslide), and he comes cheaply.

    Read More…


  • Published On 11:34am, Jun 25, 2012
  • The Blazers tank, the Rockets go big, the Lakers say goodbye

    Decrease fontDecrease font
    Enlarge fontEnlarge font

    The Trail Blazers sent Marcus Camby (pictured) to Houston after shipping swingman Gerald Wallace to the Nets. (Sam Forencich/NBAE via Getty Images)

    The Blazers have given up on the season, having now traded two starters in the span of a few hours for precisely zero players who will provide much help this season. In their latest move, Portland traded Marcus Camby to the Rockets for Hasheem Thabeet, Jonny Flynn and a future second-round pick.

    This is all fine, Portland jokes aside. Camby and his $11 million expiring deal weren’t part of the long-term plan — a plan that got a boost Thursday, when the Blazers acquired a 2012 first-round pick from the Nets that will be theirs unless it falls within the top three of the draft. With Portland clearly surrendering, it’s possible the Blazers will now have two 2012 lottery picks to add to a decent collection of assets going forward: a franchise big in LaMarcus Aldridge, two solid wings in Wesley Matthews and Nicolas Batum (a restricted free agent this summer), an intriguing young guard in Elliot Williams and near max-level cap space to use this summer or beyond.

    Thabeet and Flynn will be unrestricted free agents after this season, and so the most likely outcome is Portland dumping both after getting a free 20-game look at two unfortunate lottery busts. Perhaps one of them will show some spunk over those 20 games; the Blazers certainly have openings at center and point guard, where Raymond Felton remains, despite Portland’s best efforts to dump him after a miserable 40-plus games in the PDX.

    FULL LIST OF COMPLETED DEADLINE DEALS

    As for Houston, this is a sound move, if not the splashy one the Rockets have been dying to make for years. Thabeet and Flynn have very little value around the league at this point, and the Rockets have managed to turn them into a second legitimate center to use when Samuel Dalembert is on the bench. Read More…


  • Published On 3:42pm, Mar 15, 2012
  • Making sense of playoff race in West

    Decrease fontDecrease font
    Enlarge fontEnlarge font

    It’s time to give up trying to figure out the Western Conference and just enjoy the ride, as 11 teams battle for eight playoff spots, and two others — the Suns and Warriors — improbably lurk just one game behind the 11th-place Trail Blazers in the loss column. I can’t remember a season in which it has been so difficult to get a firm grip on a simple question: How good is Team X? This is especially so in a lockout-shortened season, when veteran teams may well be saving something for the playoffs.

    We’re nearly 40 games into this thing, and I feel comfortable saying two things about the Western Conference:

    The Thunder are clear favorites, but their D needs improvement. (Layne Murdoch/NBAE/Getty Images)

    1. The Thunder, as we all expected, are the clear favorites. They’re 31-8, rolling to home-court advantage, and even if their scoring margin (plus-6.0 points per game) paints them as a team that really should be something like 27-12 and not all that far ahead of their conference peers, that scoring margin is still nearly two full points ahead of the Spurs’ second-best mark.

    That said, the Thunder, as documented here and here, are riding a ridiculous wave of super crunch-time play that has pushed their record above where it probably should be. They remain a so-so defensive team, except in the final minutes of close games, when they turn into the 2008 Celtics. They struggle to find any scoring at all beyond their top three players; Oklahoma City piled up 115 points last night against the Suns, and only five of their players scored any points. Floor-spacing can be an issue, Russell Westbrook remains addicted to pull-up 20-footers in the first five seconds of the shot clock and the three core big men –Serge Ibaka, Kendrick Perkins and Nick Collison — are almost total non-threats on the pick-and-roll.

    If this team really has another gear on defense, as perhaps evidenced by its crunch-time play, they might be able to waltz through this conference. If they’ve been lucky, they could be had. Read More…


  • Published On 2:27pm, Mar 08, 2012
  • Rockets in prime position, even without Yao

    Decrease fontDecrease font
    Enlarge fontEnlarge font

    Kevin Martin, whose deal expires after the 2012-13 season, could generate leaguewide appeal in a trade. (Derick E. Hingle/US PRESSWIRE)

    Now that Yao Ming is officially gone, leaving us with memories of his youth and his glorious press conferences, it’s time to think about the Yao-less future of the Rockets — something the franchise has been thinking about for a long time already. This may not be news to all, but Houston is one of the most interesting franchises in the league right now, both in terms of its on-court product and (especially) its potential for a major roster move.

    Daryl Morey, the Rockets’ GM, has not hidden his desire to land a superstar, and he has positioned Houston as one of only three or four teams who could: a) be players in the next free-agent market, whenever that happens; b) realistically offer the assets necessary to land a disgruntled star or soon-to-be-free agent in a trade; and c) be players in the free-agent market a year from now. The Nets and Warriors might also be members of this club, and the Nuggets’ roster could go in a dozen different directions depending on what happens with Nene, their other outgoing free agents and the new collective bargaining agreement.

    But Houston is here for sure. It has been fortunate in that two mid-tier prospects, Chase Budinger and Patrick Patterson, have shown that they can be productive rotation players. If Terrence Williams, Jordan Hill, Marcus Morris, Donatas Motiejunas or (we can dream!) Hasheem Thabeet joins that group, the Rockets will be flush with more decent young players than any team really needs. They also own New York’s 2012 draft pick, though they owe future first-rounders to both New Jersey and Minnesota, so they have lost a bit of their flexibility in terms of trading future picks.

    Read More…


  • Published On 12:03pm, Jul 20, 2011
  • Rockets on tear in pursuit of playoff spot

    Decrease fontDecrease font
    Enlarge fontEnlarge font

    Can Kyle Lowry's improved long-range shooting propel the Rockets to the playoffs? (David Dow/NBAE via Getty Images)

    By Rob Mahoney

    With Zach Lowe off until April 4, Rob Mahoney, of TrueHoop’s Mavs-themed blog The Two Man Game, has been kind enough to lend his basketball expertise to The Point Forward. You can read more of Rob’s work at Hardwood Paroxysm, NBC Sports’ ProBasketballTalk, The New York Times’ Off the Dribble blog and Voice on the Floor. You can also check him out on Twitter @RobMahoney.

    By winning six of their last seven games, the Houston Rockets have crept within striking distance of the eighth-seeded Grizzlies. The race for the West’s final playoff spot has been incredibly competitive over the last few weeks, as both Houston and Memphis have overcome opponents of every ilk in their pursuit of a postseason berth. Whatever dignity is to be gained in a likely first-round loss to the Spurs, the Rockets and Grizzlies intend to fight for it till the bitter end.

    The effort from both teams has been noble, but the Rockets have made a particularly rousing recovery from their January slump. An 8-4 February and 9-4 March so far have propelled Houston back into the playoff hunt, and regardless of the outcome, every Rockets game remaining is a must-see affair. If they do overtake the Grizzlies for the final playoff spot, then these last eight games are a crucial part of the Rockets’ season-ending narrative and a testament to the endurance of their playoff aspirations. If they fall short — or if the Grizzlies simply take care of business, as has been the case thus far — then these final eight games are the last we’ll see of one of the league’s most beautifully functional offenses.

    Read More…


  • Published On 4:20pm, Mar 30, 2011
  • The Opening Tip: Wednesday, March 30

    Decrease fontDecrease font
    Enlarge fontEnlarge font
    • Ken Berger, CBSSports.com: The NBA plans to investigate contact between Nets part-owner Jay-Z and members of the Kentucky basketball team after the Wildcats beat North Carolina Sunday to advance to the Final Four, a person with knowledge of the situation told CBSSports.com. The hip-hop mogul’s visit was documented in photos and video showing him congratulating players in the Kentucky locker room, which happened to have been occupied by two potential lottery picks — Brandon Knight and Terrance Jones. … [T]his offense would seem to be comparable to Celtics GM Danny Ainge sitting with Kevin Durant’s mother during the 2007 Big 12 tournament. Ainge was fined $30,000, a slap on the wrist in exchange for the opportunity to schmooze a top prospect’s mom.
    • Paul Coro, Arizona Republic: “Once the Suns’ playoff hopes ostensibly were crushed with home losses to New Orleans and Dallas, Suns co-captains Steve Nash and Grant Hill began talking about the Suns’ future. A future with Nash, while always subject to trade, is tied to the final year of his contract. But with Hill, his look ahead was an acknowledgement that he wants to re-sign with the Suns for a third contract in Phoenix this summer. … When the Suns missed the playoffs two seasons ago, Hill re-signed for a two-year deal talking about unfinished business. He had seven interested teams and narrowed his choices to Phoenix, Boston and New York but did not enjoy the drawn-out process. “I’m too old for all that,” said Hill, 38. “Depending on what happens, for all free agents, if there’s a work stoppage and if we miss some of the season, there will be a mad dash or scramble to get everyone signed. You have a new labor agreement that you have to understand and interpret. I anticipate it being a lot different than it was two years ago. Let’s say the lockout hypothetically ends in November. Going off what happened 12 years ago (for the 1999 lockout), we’re starting a week later. There will be a lot going on. It will be kind of a frenzy.” Hill will turn 39 next season and has expressed an interest in playing at age 40, especially after looking like one of the NBA’s top defenders this season as the Suns stopper on opposing team’s star point guards, wings and even power forwards. He has done that while averaging 13 points per game, the seventh NBA player to do that at his age.

    Read More…


  • Published On 8:02am, Mar 30, 2011
  • The Opening Tip: Tuesday, March 29

    Decrease fontDecrease font
    Enlarge fontEnlarge font
    • Alan Hahn, Newsday: Dwight Howard, swarmed all night by a physical Knicks defense, had 29 points and 18 rebounds for Orlando (47-27) but fouled out with 1:17 left in overtime on a questionable call as he went for a rebound against Chauncey Billups. It prompted Quentin Richardson to scream from the Magic bench, “The fix is in!” It’s a dangerous allegation for an NBA player to make, especially after the Tim Donaghy investigation, but Magic players were furious about several calls in the game.
    • Gary Washburn, Boston Globe: When the consummate professional is angry, he doesn’t lash out in the media or bare his soul when his emotions are raw. He slips out of the back of the visiting locker room at Conseco Fieldhouse, nearly jamming his nice travel bag in the door, pulling it through so hard that a piece breaks off and falls onto the floor. Ray Allen kept walking, hardly concerned about the condition of his bag, more consumed by his lack of involvement in the Celtics’ offense and the team’s struggles to score down the stretch. The Celtics lost to the Pacers, 107-100, last night and once again Allen was hardly a factor in the offense. He logged 36 minutes and attempted just eight shots, scoring 11 points. It’s not that Allen wants Kevin Durant-like numbers of attempts, but he wants to be more involved in the offense in the early going, allowing him to gain rhythm for the critical stretches in games. Last night was a perfect example of how Allen is becoming less of a factor in the offense.
    • Ryan Lillis, Sacramento Bee: Sacramento launched a game of hardball Monday in its effort to keep the Kings – or at least keep the team from walking away from its city-backed $77 million loan. City officials, hinting they might go to court, called on the city of Anaheim to stop negotiating a deal to bring the Kings to Orange County. In a terse letter Monday to Anaheim officials, Assistant City Manager John Dangberg said Anaheim was ignoring the “blighting impacts” that luring the Kings from Sacramento would have on the capital city. The move would cause “irreparable harm,” the letter said. If, however, Anaheim “insists on continuing the negotiations,” the letter said, that city must require the team to honor its debt to Sacramento. In a phone conversation Monday night, Kings co-owner George Maloof told The Bee he was angry at the city’s letter. “It is interfering with our business,” he said. “We’re going to take every measure possible to protect ourselves. We have no intention of leaving that town without paying our debt. For someone to imply that we are not going to pay our debts, it’s wrong, it’s ridiculous.”

    Read More…


  • Published On 8:46am, Mar 29, 2011
  • The Opening Tip: Friday, March 25

    Decrease fontDecrease font
    Enlarge fontEnlarge font
    • John Canzano, The Oregonian: “Consider that the Blazers did not extend [Greg] Oden’s contract. He became the first No. 1 overall NBA pick since Kwame Brown to not receive that extension. As a result, the Blazers have the period from the day after the last game of this year’s NBA Finals to June 30 to make a one-year qualifying offer of $8.8 million to Oden. If the Blazers make this offer, Oden becomes a restricted free agent this summer. He may field offers from other NBA teams, but the Blazers would have the right to match any offer and keep him. If the Blazers don’t make a qualifying offer before June 30, Oden would simply become an unrestricted free agent. He’s free to leave. And that’s that. The Blazers maintain that they’ll probably make that qualifying offer, as long as Oden’s rehabilitation is progressing — as they say it is. And they’d be wise to do so. But further, they’d be wise to attempt to turn the one-year deal into a multiyear contract, tacking on two or three seasons to Oden’s deal. Yes — keep Oden. Don’t build the future around him, but view him as a start-up project that might just develop someday. The Blazers have invested too much to give up totally on him. I fear Oden’s not as happy in Portland as he’ll publicly say. That a one-year deal in a potentially locked out NBA season would be a waste. And the last thing this franchise can withstand is having Oden get healthy, come back in 2011-12 and end up in, say, a Bulls uniform, winning titles in the most productive years of his career. Not talking about operating from a position of fear and fret here. Just pointing out that the shrewd business move isn’t to cut bait on a guy who hasn’t paid off on the Blazers’ initial investment but still has value on the open market.
    • Jimmy Smith, New Orleans Times-Picayune: The New Orleans Hornets gutted out a 121-117 overtime victory against the Utah Jazz on Thursday night, but in the process may have lost power forward David West for an extended period of time with a left knee injury. West sustained what is being termed as “left knee trauma” on a driving slam dunk with 22.5 seconds to go in regulation. X-rays were negative, but an MRI – a much more revealing diagnostic procedure – is scheduled for today in Phoenix, where the Hornets play the Suns tonight. West was laid out on a training table in the dressing room in obvious pain, his knee encased in ice and his face covered by a towel. A large immobilizing splint and a pair of crutches were brought into the locker room. West stayed on the table for more than 30 minutes was the room was opened to the media, then managed, with the aid of the crutches, to get to the shower. He put no weight on the leg at all. As he was dressing, West said through a team spokesman he was in too much pain to speak to a reporter. “We’re all praying it’s not as bad as it looks,” said one Hornets player in the subdued dressing room.
    • Mike Bresnahan, Los Angeles Times: Abdul-Jabbar became the special assistant coach in charge of mentoring Bynum when the Lakers drafted a gangly 17-year-old kid in 2005. “I’ve been waiting for him to do just what he’s been doing,” Abdul-Jabbar said Thursday. “I watched the San Antonio game and it seemed to me at that point he had it figured out, how to help this team. When he plays like that, all over the boards and blocking shots and changing shots, it makes it very easy for this team to win.” Abdul-Jabbar stepped back from his Lakers coaching duties in November 2009 when he was diagnosed with Philadelphia chromosome-positive chronic myeloid leukemia, a cancer of the blood and bone marrow that produces cancerous blood cells. He used to consult with Bynum at home games and practices, sometimes going to Bynum’s home for extra video study and discussions about basketball history. Now it’s easy to sense the feeling of pride from the player who scored 38,387 career points. “He changes the game,” Abdul-Jabbar said. “When the other team can’t get easy shots around the basket, or second shots, that’s a negative for them. And when he’s getting our team second shots with offensive rebounds, that’s a positive for us.

    Read More…


  • Published On 9:26am, Mar 25, 2011
  • Gay is done for season; are Grizzlies, too?

    Decrease fontDecrease font
    Enlarge fontEnlarge font

    Grizzlies forward Rudy Gay will undergo season-ending shoulder surgery. (Joe Murphy/NBAE via Getty Images)

    The Grizzlies got the unexpected news that Rudy Gay’s partially dislocated left shoulder requires season-ending surgery. The development comes with Memphis poised to make its first post-(Pau) Gasol playoff appearance to complete a regular season in which Gay has shown major improvement as an all-around player.

    The knee-jerk reaction is to say that Memphis’ playoff hopes have taken a major hit, and the Rockets and Suns have been given new life. There is truth to that; the Grizzlies are only one game up in the loss column over the Suns and two over the Rockets – and the latter, strong in John Hollinger’s playoff odds calculator, have a cupcake-heavy schedule the rest of the way. Gay is Memphis’ primary shot creator in clutch, half-court situations, and teams will be able to give even more attention to Zach Randolph now on those crucial possessions. Houston has already won the tiebreaker over Memphis by virtue of a 3-1 edge in the head-to-head series, and given the advantage Memphis currently holds in what would be the next two tiebreakers (record against division and conference opponents, in that order), Houston’s overtime win over Memphis on Feb. 5 that clinched the head-to-head series looms as a monstrously important win.

    And even so: If I had put money on the Grizzlies making the playoffs, I wouldn’t feel terrible about making that bet today. The Grizzlies have the tiebreaker in hand over Phoenix, and they’ve got plenty of talent on the wing now that O.J. Mayo is back and Shane Battier is on board. Memphis’ remaining schedule is almost as easy as Houston’s, and it will get substantially easier once the Grizz get through their next three games — roadies against Boston and Chicago, and a home game against the Spurs. Gay was going to miss those games anyway, and that Spurs game got a bit more winnable when Tim Duncan turned his ankle Monday night against Golden State. After that, Memphis has five of its final eight games at home and only three against winning teams. Toss in the two-game edge in the loss column over Houston and Phoenix’s more difficult schedule, and odds systems like Hollinger’s would probably still favor Memphis, despite the bad news about Gay.

    Read More…


  • Published On 11:18am, Mar 22, 2011


  •