I wrote back on August 3 that Ty Lawson was the biggest key to the Houston Rockets’ 2015-2016 season.  Lawson, of course, was a complete and unmitigated disaster, going on to average just 5.8 points and 3.4 assists on 39% shooting in 53 very forgettable games.  He was the biggest flop that I can remember during my time following this team, and that includes the Rockets careers of Scottie Maurice Pippen and Kelvin T. Cato (the latter of Slim Thug and ESG’s graceful request for the return of our communal currency).

[As an aside, because I haven’t really touched on this much yet, also from that not-so-prescient August 3 piece: “Harden is pretty likely to be about as good again, and Howard is pretty likely to have better health, if even only slightly.  (If he only plays half a season again, they already won 56 games withstanding that output).”  Harden pretty much was just as good, except he regressed defensively, and Dwight was healthy…except that may have been a bad thing for everyone involved.  Oops.]

Back to Lawson.  This piece also could have aptly been titled ‘Can James Harden co-exist with a ball dominant point guard i.e. would it be completely insane to give Mike Conley a max?’ but I’m trying to push this ‘what went wrong?’ series to like ten pieces because such a duration would only be fitting for such a disastrous season.  I theorized earlier in the year, in accordance with what appeared to be the prevailing conventional wisdom at the time, that it might be wise to pair Harden with another shooting guard (i.e.: Bradley Beal) because the Lawson experience definitively proved that Harden could not co-exist with an actual point guard.  This was before Lawson went on to post an on-off offensive rating difference of -21.9(!!!!) for the Indiana Pacers in the postseason, demonstrating that rather than providing anything of value regarding Harden and intra-team dynamics, Lawson’s stint was only useful in establishing that he probably just isn’t very good anymore.

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Houston Rockets Potpourri: May 29, 2016

  • I was planning on writing a post today about the Ty Lawson disaster, but I woke up later than expected and don’t feel like staring at numbers.  So I will treat you all to some thoughts, some (most) of which I already tweeted about in the past five minutes.  First, Klay Thompson: he’s incredible and was a God last night.  But just watch – in a display of the recency/significance bias which characterizes much of sports discussion, the absurd notion that Thompson is a superior shooting guard to James Harden will even further cement itself over the summer.

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The Houston Rockets hire Mike D’Antoni

I wrote my thoughts on what was at the time still a potential D’Antoni hiring last Friday.  For the most part, those sentiments remain in tact, but I do have a few additional remarks now that the hiring has become official:

  • As I tweeted last night, it’s very likely that owner Les Alexander is currently very smugly pleased with himself over what, in his mind, was another big-fish signing.  To that end, what I’m most fascinated by at present is the market interplay between consumers, public opinion, and ownership.  If you have been reading the Rockets blogs and forums or on Twitter interacting with Rockets fans the past few weeks, pretty unanimously most everyone in those die-hard venues was in opposition to this hiring.  In such echo chambers, you would have seen sentiments bemoaning this apparent slap in the face of the fan base, even encouraging boycotts of ticket sales.  But is this really a slap in the face to Les’s target audience?  As I had argued in Episode 99, I don’t think so at all.  It’s easy to get lost in the echo chamber and think your own surroundings are representative of society at large, but I would assert that the vast majority of ticket-buying consumers have no idea who Mike D’Antoni is, much less that he’s gone 202-290 since his Phoenix stint.  People aren’t that informed about something as inconsequential as sports, nor do they really care.  So to that end, if Les is even aware of the staunch opposition to this move by the fringe elements of his customer base, there’s absolutely no motivation for him to care.  It’s not going to affect his bottom line in the least.

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On Dwight Howard in the post

In an admirably diligent effort at image rehabilitation, Dwight Howard has been making the rounds of late, first in a televised appearance on TNT (where I thought he came off surprisingly well) and most recently, in an interview with ESPN’s Jackie MacMullan.

The MacMullan interview in particular was a treasure trove of bizarre revelations, from Howard’s philosophical views on team-building (“I was saying, ‘Let’s have Magic cereal, Magic vitamins with our players’ faces on it so they can get to know our team.'[??????])” to Howard’s admission that despite having practiced shooting 1,000 shots per day, it was the fear of failure preventing him from actually shooting those same shots when it mattered (“I didn’t want to turn on the TV and see people say, ‘Dwight is taking all those outside shots, he’s screwing around, he doesn’t care, he doesn’t want to win.'”).

But most noteworthy was Howard’s recount of an in-season interaction with team general manager Daryl Morey:

“I felt like my role was being reduced. I went to [Rockets general manager] Daryl [Morey] and said, ‘I want to be more involved.’ Daryl said, ‘No, we don’t want you to be.’ My response was, ‘Why not? Why am I here?’ It was shocking to me that it came from him instead of our coach. So I said to him, ‘No disrespect to what you do, but you’ve never played the game. I’ve been in this game a long time. I know what it takes to be effective.”’

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The situation (hopefully) remains fluid, but at the time of writing, Mike D’Antoni appears to be the frontrunner for the Houston Rockets’ coaching vacancy.  If you follow me on Twitter, you’re aware of my thoughts on the matter, depicted through a rant on all things D’Antoni, spanning all waking hours of my Thursday.  But to recap: reports indicate D’Antoni has become the frontrunner to land the position, due to the support of team ownership.  Reports stated while general manager Daryl Morey preferred and held interest in Jeff Van Gundy and Frank Vogel, neither candidate even so much as received an interview due to the lack of interest from team owner Les Alexander.  Reports have stated that if D’Antoni is to land the job, the Rockets would seek to assemble a staff with strong defensive oriented minds as uhh…accommodating of his deficiencies.

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