Royal Beatdown - ESPN Stats and Info provided some fun facts about James Harden’s performance last night.
When the smoke had cleared after the first 12 minutes, Harden had single-handedly outscored the Kings 22-17.
He also had seven field goals to the Kings’ four and had either scored or assisted on 11 of the Rockets’ 14 baskets.
For those few fans that still believe the Rockets would be better off with a two-way shooting guard as opposed to Harden’s one-sided approach, he reminded them just how good he can be. Not to mention he had three steals last night and is averaging 2.1 a game for the month of February.
Another tidbit from the Stats and Info guys, and passed along by reader Majik19:
The Rockets are leading the league in both 3-point attempts and free throw attempts per game. How odd is that combination? The 1983-84 Utah Jazz are the only team to finish a season leading in both categories.
The Rockets finished 4th in free throw attempts last year and no team that Dwight Howard has played for since becoming an All-Star has ever finished outside the top-10 in attempts, so this is no surprise. And after covering the Grantland piece yesterday about Morey’s D-League mad experiment with the 3-point shot, I wouldn’t expect that one to go away anytime either.
Buy In? - It’s that time of the season, post-trade deadline, when all the veterans and young guys who no longer have a place in their current franchise’s plans can be bought out of their contracts and sign with a new team. As long as the players that are bought out have finalized their deals by the Saturday deadline, they will be able to join any roster in the league and still be playoff eligible. Several names have been bandied about, including Caron Butler, Danny Granger and Jimmer Fredette. Rich Kraetsch of Hickory High answers the question, “What’s next for Jimmer Fredette?“, and makes a brief mention of the home team.
Fredette could easily supplant Francisco Garcia as the backup SG in Houston and wouldn’t be asked to backup the point on a team with two capable guys running the show in Jeremy Lin and Patrick Beverly.
It would be hard to see Houston making a move for the combo-guard out of BYU. His shot-charts are impressive – so much green – and his playing style fits the Rockets game plan of shooting threes and avoiding the mid-range. But signing another player would force to Rockets to (presumably) cut Troy Daniels, who they just signed this week. Fredette is an interesting talent with excellent pedigree, but does Houston really need another all-offense, no-D gunner?
The more interesting questions revolves around the former All-Stars Granger and Butler. Granger would be a perfect fit for the impact 3&D player the Rockets were looking for at this year’s deadline. He may yet prove to be washed-up following all his recent health problems, but if he finds any kind of form close to his previous time in Indiana, the Rockets would be lucky to have him come playoff time. And Butler, while never the defender Granger was, is still an excellent outside shooter capable of filling-in for Chandler Parsons at small forward.
Both Fredette and Butler will have no trouble finding work should they be bought out (and it looks like Butler is already set on joining the LeBrons), but as far as the Rockets are concerned, Granger is the real prize. He would more than likely have to sacrifice some dollars out of the remaining $14-million left on the final year of his deal, but if he wants to play meaningful basketball this spring (and indications are that he does), he’ll have multiple teams vying for his services. Even with the addition of Jordan Hamilton, if Granger has anything left to offer he fills a need in the Rockets lineup. And if the Rockets choose not to pursue Granger there is a good chance he will end up with a potential playoff opponent like the Spurs or Clippers. That alone should warrant a look.
Dwight the Mentor - The New York Knicks season is beyond crumbling. Their point guard was just arrested for felony gun charges. Their sixth-man got reprimanded earlier this season for untying opponents’ shoelaces mid-game. They’re almost $33-million over the salary-cap and a long way out of the playoff race. All the while their superstar forward, who is opting-out of his contract this summer, has had to sit idly by and watch it all fall apart.
Carmelo Anthony has some big decisions to make this summer. And despite the differences in the type of erosion of their respective teams, Melo’s season has been awfully similar to the one Dwight Howard had to endure last year with the Lakers. So it’s no surprise that Anthony and Howard have spoken about the decisions facing Melo this off-season.
In an interview with USA TODAY Sports on Tuesday, Howard said he has discussed this fascinating dynamic privately with Anthony on several occasions. While he doesn’t yet know what Anthony will do, his view of what’s important in this process has clearly not changed: focus on the winning, and the rest will follow suit.
I think it’s pretty clear that Dwight made the right decision this past summer, so it makes sense that Anthony would want some insight into his thinking when he made his own career-defining move just a few months ago. And I wouldn’t go as far as to say this counts as recruiting, but Howard telling other stars around the league how happy he is in Houston sure seems like a good thing to me.
George Karl Knows - Speaking of Melo, former-Rockets nemesis George Karl believes the Beard is the second-best offensive player in the Association.
Mike Malone Knows, Too -
Michael Malone on Rox: “That’s best team in the NBA right now, since Jan 1. We allowed them to come in here and establish their dominance.”
— Jonathan Feigen (@Jonathan_Feigen) February 26, 2014