Morey, you magnificent bastard.  At the time of writing, the Houston Rockets just acquired Denver Nuggets guard Ty Lawson for literally the four worst players on their roster.  Recall that at free agent’s commencement, I repeatedly stated that I preferred the avenue that saw the Rockets trade for Lawson over even potential acquisitions of Kevin Love or LaMarcus Aldridge.  And that rationale was assuming the team would have to give up Terrence Jones or the #18 pick.  Instead, because of “the DUI discount”, as Forrest Walker put it, the team has landed a fringe All-Star at their weakest position, for basically a bag of trash.

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in musings


Josh Smith is going to the LA Clippers. After one half-season of erratic but awesome play, he’s off to the team whose hopes he crushed in the playoffs, and Rockets fans are left wondering what to make of him.

To me, it’s obvious who to compare him to.  I’ve been a Rockets fan my whole life, but I would say that I became a crazy one ( ie. one able to name every single player on the roster without breaking a sweat) in the 2008-09 season. That season, we brought along another semi-star with a history of spotty play  who also really shot too many three-pointers.

And Ron Artest was just all kinds of awesome.

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in essays


Houston Rockets offseason check-in

  • I can’t even apologize to you guys anymore for being MIA because it keeps happening.  I’m like Will’s dad on Fresh Prince in that episode where he keeps promising that they’ll hang out and getting Will’s hopes up and then canceling.  Remember that episode?  That was like one of the greatest Uncle Phil moments in the history of the show, at the very end.  Anyways, I don’t really know what to say.  I just got married at the end of May and work’s gotten pretty crazy of late.  But I will get it together again.
  • I just went to the car wash and saw the weirdest thing: I’m in line, in my car, and in front of me, there’s this guy who I perceived to be the car wash manager, standing next to a worker.  So the manager is this burly ape of a fellow while the worker was this short pudgy little creature.  So the manager is berating the worker, saying “I didn’t tell you to do it.  I told you to just show me where the hose is.”  But the worker is like still holding onto this hose-like thing that is hanging from the ceiling.  And the manager is going on and on about this.  Suddenly they get the hose down and hell breaks loose as the two men begin struggling, each tugging at this hose, trying to rip it out of the other’s hands.  I have no idea what the hell was going on.  Everyone in the vicinity just stopped and observed.  The worker, being of vastly inferior size, strength eventually succumbed, but not before the end of the hose hit a nearby car against its door, rather violently.  The weird thing was that the two men didn’t even go to blows after that, as you’d expect.  The worker just sort of cowered away.  My wife and I reversed and went to a different car wash.
  • Okay, on to basketball.  If you follow me on Twitter, you already know where I stand on things, so I haven’t completely gone MIA.  If you don’t follow me, why not?  I’m not really too down about missing out on Aldridge.  I mean I guess it would have been really cool, but I don’t exactly know that that was what this team needed.  I think an improving Motiejunas and Josh Smith are enough at the ‘4’ for this team.  What this team needs is a new point guard.  So in that sense, this was nothing like last year when several of you had to check in on my well-being after the Bosh announcement.
  • While recanting that episode above at the car wash, I just suddenly remembered the Ron Artest quote after the brawl, when he, now infamously, asked Stephen Jackson, “do you think we’re going to get in trouble?”
  • It kind of shows where you are as a franchise, and as a fanbase, that the pursuit of a third star sort of leaves you apathetic.  Christ, remember when Kevin Martin was this team’s best player?

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in columns


How important is Ariza?

By now, if you’re a capable Internet user, you’ve heard the talk – the Rockets again this offseason intend to be active in free agency.  The names tossed about, as par for the course for Daryl Morey, are the two big fish at the top of the class: LaMarcus Aldridge and Kevin Love.  Unfortunately, barring some feat of cap gymnastics I have yet to conceive, any outgoing permutation suitable for a match would involve Trevor Anthony Ariza, Houston’s esteemed emotional leader.  Is it worth it?

The examination requires various questions.  First, we’re all in agreement that the Ariza role is definitively essential.  Last year, at this time, I posed the question of whether the Parsons-Harden duo could go deep in the playoffs.  The premise was that the team’s defense simply could not sustain the pressure of having two weak points at the wings.  Through this past season’s results, that question has been unequivocally answered.  I hate to mix causation with correlation, but let’s be real – Houston doesn’t even get past Dallas with that kind of ease without Ariza on the wing, much less make it all the way to the West Finals.  We learned that you absolutely must pair James Harden with a stout defender at the ‘3’ to go deep.  There just weren’t any other variables overwhelming enough to directly attribute to Houston’s success.

The question now becomes whether Ariza himself is replaceable.

First, can you even replace him?  People toss around the ‘3 and D’ phrase nonchalantly as if these guys grow on trees, but how many of these players really exist?  You can try and develop one, but we’re no longer in a phase to be waiting on player development at critical positions (see: Jones, Terrence).

But lets say you’re even able to replace him with another veteran wing – maybe K.J. McDaniels shows signs this summer of developing an outside shot.  Is there something intrinsic to Ariza himself, after this run, that is indispensable?  What is the value of continuity?  I’m not really sure.  It helps of course, to keep a group together; the value of chemistry cannot be overstated.  But if you think someone else can replace that same production, how much are you really sacrificing, if it means the ability to also add an elite piece?

To me, it’s emotional.  I, like every other fan, become attached to certain players, especially after a run like the one the Rockets just had.  It’s important to disentangle those emotions from the raw, cold analysis, and that’s why Daryl Morey is paid the big bucks to make the decisions.  I tell myself that the Rockets need Ariza next year because they’ll lose the experience they gained in giving up a vital cog who was part of the run.  But in the end result, I don’t know how much that even matters.

in musings


2015 Red94 Season in Review, sort of

Hello all.  This is Rahat.  You may remember me.  Well, if you’re wondering where I’ve been, and why I went silent on Twitter following the Game 2 thriller, I got married this past Sunday.  But Mrs. Red94 is asleep right now, so I have a few moments to reflect back on this season.  Where to start?  I can’t remember the last time I was this excited about the team’s prospects following a season.  Maybe 2004-2005 after the Game 7 loss to Dallas?  The Rockets basically gutted their entire team this past summer in a failed pursuit of big game, appeared to be punting on the season in letting Chandler Parsons walk, and ended up as the third best team in the league.  Remarkable.  We learned many things along the way, but our prolonged season also gave rise to many new questions looking ahead:

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in columns

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