Get Omer It – The news that Omer Asik wouldn’t be traded after all, came as no surprise at all to Kevin McHale, who has basically been going about his business as if the trade was never going to happen. McHale’s take on the situation–as a coach and former GM–after Thursday’s practice was unique:
“I’ve never believed you can say, ‘Well, we’re going to trade this guy,’ and a trade magically appears. So yeah, I thought he was going to be here the whole time. His knee is bothering him. He’s seeing another doctor today, but I think we’re going to get over the hump on that, and then we’ll get him back in the rotation and playing.
McHale went on to talk about how he still believes Asik will be a key part of the team’s success, not just backing Howard up, but playing alongside him. If McHale still thinks the Howard-Asik pairing is going to work night-in and night-out, then I disagree with him. If he’s trying to get them to the point where they can work together to kick the stuffing out of mismatches here and there, then I support him 100 percent.
Sadness – Apparently, Asik isn’t the only one bummed about the trade talks being called off. According to Jake Fischer at Liberty Ballers, Thaddeus Young was champing at the bit to be traded to the Rockets:
When Tanner [Young’s agent] informed Young that the Rockets had called about the tweener forward, Young grew excited about the opportunity to leave the Sixers, though he’s loved his time here. The chance to play for a contender with legitimate championship aspirations is too enticing.
If only Asik were as jazzed up about playing for a contender as Young, then we wouldn’t have to worry about this whole soap opera to begin with. [read more…]
During the recent game against the Chicago Bulls, Aaron Brooks came off the bench for a few minutes. Jeff Van Gundy remarked, “If Aaron Brooks were on the Bulls he would be their best offensive player. He’s the third string point guard on the Rockets. That’s how deep this team is.”
JVG is right. The Houston Rockets are incredibly deep. Coming off the bench regularly are a scorer (Lin), two 3-and-D wings (Garcia, Casspi), a big (Asik… yeah, I know), and a grinder (Smith). Seeing spot duty or injury fill-in duty are a microwave man (Brooks) and a stretch 4 (D-Mo). Those are very useful roles to be filled by young, talented players. Just ask the Pacers or the Bulls (when Rose was whole) how valuable a productive bench can be.
Here’s how the Houston Rockets bench ranks league-wide, according to NBA.com:
- 3rd in points per possession
- 4th in TS%
- 5th in net points per possession
- 8th in +/- per game
But here’s the most important stat about the Houston Rockets bench:
The Indiana Pacers are good at basketball. They’re one of two teams in the Eastern Conference who appear to have a shot at winning it all, the others being the defending champion Miami Heat. Hot off a thrilling barnburner between these two teams, the Pacers now have to host the Houston Rockets, an upstart young contender in the making. The good news is that the Rockets put paid to the Pacers twice in the preseason, and looked comfortable doing it. The bad news is that the Pacers aren’t just good at basketball; they’re as good as it gets in the league this year.
As with last season, this matchup promises to be a battle between extremes. The Rockets feature a top offense, and the team is calibrated to create open looks inside and at the three point line. No team is as set up to oppose that onslaught as the Indiana Pacers, the ultimate defense-first team in the NBA today. Whichever team can define the pace and the tone for this game will come away with a signature win against a quality opponent. Whoever loses will have a lot to learn from in their fight to contend.