Past, Present and Future – Grantland’s Zach Lowe takes an in-depth look at the current state of the Rockets in one of the definitive articles on the team this year, taking a look at recent team history from striking out on Bosh, Dwight and Melo to landing Harden, Lin, Asik and Robinson. It also makes it very clear that Morey doesn’t think the team has arrived:
But the Rockets aren’t crowing. Morey understands how much work, and how much luck, went into landing Harden, and he realizes they need two more things to become a real contender: a second star and a good defense. “We haven’t done anything yet,” Morey says. “We are still on pace to be a no. 6–no. 10 seed. We still have a long way to go, but we definitely like our position better. We probably got the hardest part done, but now we have to get a second star to go with James. Until we become a real contender, it’s fair for the critics to sit back and say, ‘What have they really done?’”
And on the topic of T-Rob, Kelvin Sampson says what everyone is thinking:
Fitting Robinson in this scheme will be tricky because he can’t shoot 3s. Houston can’t stick him in the elbow areas, near the foul line, because stationing a big man there just gets in the way of Houston’s pick-and-roll game. “The elbow is a no-fly zone for us,” says Sampson, who does not hide his anxiety about the in-season trades. “My initial impression of the deal was: We’re going to have to figure out how [Robinson] fits with us offensively. It is absolutely a concern.”
Tweet That – Of course, all of this attention is making Morey nervous:
D-Mo-ment – If you’re as excited as I am about Donatas Motiejunas getting his first start tonight (or half as excited as Rahat) then don’t miss this feature on Rockets.com about the smooth Lithuanian.
The Man With the Eagle Tattoo was also great in his post practice interview. One priceless bit this exchange with the reporter (who judging by his voice was Jonathan Feigen from the Houston Chronicle):
Reporter – When did Kevin tell you you were starting tomorrow?
D-Mo – He didn’t tell me. You are the first guy to tell me that.
Reporter – I’m not the coach.
D-Mo – Yeah, I know.
Reporter – (laughs) Well, he told us. Congrats.
D-Mo – Okay, thank you. I appreciate it.
McHale did tell the assembled reporters that D-Mo was getting the nod. Of all the things I’ve heard about D-Mo so far, this comment from McHale might be the most fascinating:
“He’s gotten a lot stronger, he’s gotten better, he’s really been diligent and he’s been patient. I know he really wanted to play earlier; in fact he’s one of the few guys who ever said, ‘Put me down in the D-League, I need to play more.’ He just keeps working hard and he’s going to get his chance.”
Men with Motiejunas’ combination of high confidence and lack of ego are truly rare, and that attitude has earned him respect from his coaches and teammates. Lin described him Tuesday as “probably our hardest worker.”
Mystery Man – I confess to still not knowing much about the Rockets’ newest player, Timothy Ohlbrecht, other than that he owned the D-League, but DraftExpress has the skinny on the skinny German’s unorthodox career (he left Euroleague for the NBDL Draft in 2010) after sitting down with him in January. Here’s a snippet:
Matt Kamalsky: Early in your career, as a German 7-footer who can shoot, some people compared you to Dirk Nowitzki. Do you feel that those comparisons were fair, do you feel like they hindered you in any way?
Ohlbrecht: I mean, it was an honor for me even to be in the same sentence with Dirk Nowitzki, but we are totally different players. He’s a going who can play away from the contact, he’s a great shooter, a finesse guy. I think I look more for contact, I’m going to work under the basket more, I’m going to be in the low-post. We both come from Germany, we’re both tall, but I think we’ve got very different games.
By the way, apparently Dirk is a fan:
Rough Translation: “Congratulations to Tim Ohlbrecht. Fighting your way up from the D-League is danged hard. Huge Respect. Welcome to the NBA.”
Got any sweet links or suggestions? Email them to firstname.lastname@example.org or message John Eby on Twitter @EbyNews.