“If Boston wants a big haul, it has to hope a potential Rondo suitor feels some unexpected desperation early in the season. Houston is under pressure to win now, and if it starts slowly, Daryl Morey might swallow hard and meet Boston in the middle. Rondo and James Harden make for an awkward fit, but talent tends to work itself out, and the Rockets are confident they can re-sign stars once they get them.”
The above cited tidbit from Zach Lowe’s latest at Grantland leads to a question to which I had not previously given much thought. For Houston, this season, is the opportunity cost of waiting for “the best deal” justified? If we assume that this roster, as currently constructed, cannot win a title, and that an upgrade somewhere is necessary, a premise with which I think most observers are in agreement, then when should Daryl Morey strike? History tells us that Morey never settles for what he considers a bad deal. But the changing circumstances inherent to this season are that, maybe for the first time, time is actually of the essence. In the past, Houston was content to wait patiently, letting assets accrue, keeping an eye towards the offseason. But now, the Rockets face uncharted waters, with Dwight Howard’s prime (and impending free agency) on the clock. Simply put, the Rockets have to make progress this season, and simply put, they took a step back this summer.
It’s been three years since the Rockets played their last NBA game, and even an ugly preseason game is like a sip of sweet water in the desert. Well, it may have only been a few months, and the water may not have been that sweet, but a grudge match win over a division rival in the Dallas Mavericks is a relief for the Houston Rockets and their fans. It was among the longest and most grueling affairs ever to unfold in preseason, and may have ended on a comical, if appropriate, note, but a win is a win. Even if the win doesn’t matter.
Why was the game so ugly? There had been 49 fouls by the end of the first half, and the game ended with a total of 81. The Rockets and Mavs split 109 free throws, with the Rockets hitting only 64% of theirs. The game came in at three hours long and featured Dwight Howard fouling out in under sixteen minutes of play. The Rockets couldn’t buy a bucket to save their lives in the first half, and for much of the game Howard led the team in free throw percent with 50%. It was a horrible, awful, no-good game… that the Rockets ended up winning.
The new NBA season is just around the corner, and it can’t come soon enough. It’s time to get ready for the next chapter in Houston Rockets history, and therefore it’s time to make serson predictions. Until the first game ends, everyone starts out undefeated and all the potential is untapped. But what will the Rockets look like at the end of the year?
The most direct question is also the most obvious. How many games will the Rockets win? A simple question with a simple answer, right? Simple? Yes. Easy? Nope. Predicting wins in most seasons is hard enough as it is, but with the off-season the Rockets have had, the challenge is doubled. Challenge or no, there’s an answer to that question and a process to that answer. [read more...]
In today’s episode, we picked our team MVP and LVP for 2014.
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