If you’re wondering why the background of this interview seems unfamiliar, it’s because it took place in the Toyota Center storage area. Monta actually ducked out of the lockerroom and headed off before we were even let in. Bucks PR rushed and stopped him so we could get in a word. Typical Monta, I’m told.
I don’t know what it is about this team this season. I really don’t. Whether it’s Trevor Ariza or John Salmons or OJ Mayo, I feel like more often than not in our defeats, this team has dealt with one chucker or another just firing up stuff that goes in. And at the end of the day, as the great Bill Russell observed, it’s about buckets. Milwaukee fired up a lot of junk that went in, culminating in a Monta Ellis prayer that Jordan himself would have missed, and the Rockets had the opportunity to make a lot of easy shots that didn’t go in. That’s all there is to it.
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:
Last week’s trade deadline saw no splashy moves. The biggest headlines came from the Rockets, who stole #5 overall pick rookie Thomas Robinson from the Kings, under the nose of every GM with a pulse (I can’t wait to see Robinson’s scary athleticism near the rim work into the most running team in basketball), and from the Bucks, who sent expiring contracts to the Magic for J.J. Redick. That’s it. While the Bucks move was a bit puzzling—seeing as J.J. Redick is not that guy who can put them over the top, into a new competitive bracket, and seeing as his contract is also expiring, and Milwaukee’s potential financial commitments to Brandon Jennings and Monta Ellis are quite the albatross—Houston’s trade made complete sense: here’s a competitive team that’s rising, and building fast to a very bright future.