Rockets wing options: who ya got?

I’ve been writing about Rockets wing options at Forbes for the past couple of weeks. In all, I looked at Courtney Lee, Kent Bazemore, James Johnson, Tyler Johnson, and Nic Batum. Aside from Tyler Johnson, there’s a case to be made for any of them. Bazemore is probably the safest acquisition, but then again, I don’t like the idea of needing to part with future assets, if possible to avoid. Even in ‘win-now’ mode, a team needs a pipeline of cheap assets under club control, particularly when facing the prospect of cap hell. I also think rookie De’Anthony Melton has a chance to be a good player in this league eventually.

Bazemore is the best shooter of the group, and an elite defender. But he’s only 6’5. That’s not ideal in an anticipated rematch against Kevin Durant and the Golden State Warriors. Meanwhile the 6’8 James Johnson can slide between both forward positions. And it was brought to my attention today by a reader that he’s shot 41% from the right corner over the past two seasons. Add in the fact that he probably costs you less than Bazemore in the way of assets, and I’m sold. Johnson is my top choice.

I honestly think if you swing a trade for Johnson or Bazemore, and platoon that player with James Ennis and P.J. Tucker, with Melo being a huge upgrade over Ryan Anderson, and expected improvement from Capela, you’re an even better team than you were last year. But I was told the Rockets window has closed.

in musings

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If you frequent this page, you don’t need to be convinced of Hakeem Olajuwon’s greatness. He was, without a doubt, the most versatile big man in basketball history. He was dominant defensively and had an arsenal of moves unthinkable for a man of his size. His production resulted in two titles for the city of Houston.

But I’m wondering how he’d be viewed in today’s game. This is not in reference solely to his legacy although I do believe he is one of the most underrated greats of all time. I’m thinking about just how much of a complete phenomenon Dream would be on social media – his game was almost made to be played back on loop on thousands of Twitter feeds across the country.

in musings

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Rockets offseason roundtable: Capela, Melo

I got back together with old friends Forrest Walker and Richard Li to talk Rockets offseason.

Forrest: This Capela contract is an absolute steal. Not only is it the lowball offer they pitched to him at the start of the summer, it also has zero options, team or player. It’s well below what he would get in any other offseason, and even includes bizarre incentives, making the deal in practice even smaller than the $18 million per year that contract appears to be. In fact, the bizarre nature of those incentives moves this contract from not just team-friendly to outright player-hostile. The idea of making Capela chase after defensive rebounds, free throw percentage and conference finals appearances is honestly a bit beyond the pale, and I understand why he balked at this otherwise tolerable contract.

Be that as it may, the team has locked him up for five years, and any hard feelings will likely fade quite rapidly, especially if they keep giving him those conference finals checks.
My question: Are Trevor Ariza and Luc Richard Mbah a Moute replaceable? Not just their production, but also their fit and chemistry. How much, if any, will Houston miss them?
Richard: Probably not. Part of me believes that the NBA, miraculously, still undervalues long wings who can defend multiple positions and shoot threes. You could make a legitimate case that, outside of your top-25 players, 3-and-D guys who know their role and play within it are the best value for money in the NBA. I mean you would definitely take Mbah a Moute for $5 million over someone like Reggie Jackson for $15 million, right? Every game in the conference finals, both of them, basically ended with alpha dogs and 3-and-D guys on the floor. Everyone else was relegated to the bench. They are the mold of the modern NBA. The best players are increasingly just bigger, better, longer versions of this mold (AD, Kawhi, KD), or a very select few who have some other worldly skillset that compensates for them not being made from the mold (Curry, Kyrie). [read more…]

in conversations

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