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The Rockets Daily – January 8, 2013

Down But Not Out - David Barron of the Chronicle’s Ultimate Rockets blog has a story detailing the latest proceedings in the involuntary Chapter 11 bankruptcy petition filed against Houston Regional Sports Network, the Astros-Rockets-Comcast partnership that owns CSN Houston.

The unanimous consent rule has been cited as a hangup in efforts to increase coverage for the network, which is available to no more than 40 percent of the area’s 2.2 million TV households. Limited carriage led to limited income, which led to the bankruptcy filing by four Comcast affiliates last year in an effort to prevent the Astros from retaking their broadcast rights after they were not paid for several months.

There still appears to be a long way to go in all this mess, with the Rockets leading negotiations with multiple possible investors who might be able to rescue the network from an escalating legal battle.

As someone who currently resides outside of Houston city limits, with a cable provider other than Comcast, I can assure you I’m at the top of the list of people hoping for a quick resolution.  A person can only watch so many iPad-streamed Rockets’ games and nationally televised, mediocre Lakers’ games as a way to get his basketball fix.

Door Number 2 - As I speculated yesterday in the Daily, the Rockets appear to be using the D-League Showcase as a way of shopping Donatas Motiejunas to the rest of the league.  Yahoo’s Adrian Wojnarowski has tweeted that the Rockets are calling teams to talk about D-Mo.

I know Motiejunas has been a disappointment so far this season, especially compared to fellow sophomore Terrence Jones, but as I stated yesterday, I’m still in his corner.  Maybe it’s just me, but I’ve quit expecting the stretch-4 we hoped he would be, and started seeing a versatile, scoring – albeit soft – center.  Armed with only the Grizzlies game from a couple weeks ago, and with plenty of ammo to go against, I still root for Mchale to find a way to give him more minutes.

But Kevin McHale is an old school coach and came off the bench for a lot of years before he got his chance to be a regular starter. And he ended up of the greatest forwards of all time; so maybe he knows something about it.

Ratings Galore - ESPN had a ranking bonanza yesterday, covering everything from the Committee of One’s Power Rankings, to the best shooting guard and center in the league, to the neutral court rankings ranked by Vegas betting wizards.  All said links are ESPN Insider content, except for Marc Stein’s take.  Stein released his weekly power rankings, with the Rockets dropping one spot to eighth.

The Rockets are undoubtedly enjoying this leisurely start to 2014 after a chaotic December ended with a deflating home loss to Sacramento in their 2013 finale. Who knew a two-point escape at home over the Knicks — given what New York pulled off in San Antonio and Dallas — would feel so good?

The Warriors and Suns have ridden hot streaks to jump ahead of the Rockets, but the rest are all pretty secure in their positions ahead of Houston.

Brad Doolittle updated his positional rankings, based on a players preseason forecast and his 2013-14 results thus far, starting with shooting guards.  The Bearded One led things off.

Any concerns about whether Harden would have trouble integrating with Dwight Howard have been answered, as he’s responded with a virtual repeat of his breakout 2012-13 season. Harden is still the No. 1 option in Houston, and he has surpassed Dwyane Wade for the top spot in our rankings at the 2-guard spot. Harden’s 3-point percentage is about 4 percent under his career mark, so there is a strong likelihood that the second half of his campaign will be even stronger than his first.

I’m counting the 3-point percentage as hokum.  Lower leg injuries keep a player from getting sturdy, balanced lift out of your footwork, something absolutely required on long jump shots.  That need for compensation will dissipate when (if) Harden’s complete health returns.

Dwight Howard comfortably rounded out the top four of the top 10 centers.

Howard is having a better statistical season than he did during his one season with the Lakers. However, he’s still well off the level of play he established in Orlando. Howard is having an excellent season — see the No. 11 overall rank in WARP above — but his shot-block percentage is down by a full percent and he’s averaging his fewest minutes per game since his rookie season.

Even with his dominance in the paint and on the boards as the season has progressed, Dwight really hasn’t ever really flashed the super hero that carried Hedo Turkolu, Jameer Nelson and the boys to such a dominant defensive unit in Orlando.  Still though, keeping his minutes low is ideal, and being able to do so without Omer Asik has been a task.

Lastly, Evan Abrams leads up a team of would-be Vegas handicappers ranking how all 30 teams compare when taking into account the betting lines.

As mentioned in the first edition, these rankings represent the perceived neutral court value of each NBA team in the eyes of Vegas bettors and handicappers. In other words, if the Pacers played the Suns on a neutral court, you could use the ranking system to determine what these four panelists would grade as the perceived line of the game (before adjusting for home-court advantage).

The graph also shows Stein and Hollinger’s rankings for each team, as well as their SCHOENE score (Insider).  And no one in the top 10, save for Dallas, saw a bigger disparagement from their statistically based rankings (average of 8.33) compared to their Vegas odds (6th overall), as much as Houston.  If there’s one thing Simmons has taught me over the years, “the house always wins” really stands out.

Well, “if gambling were legal,” one of the favorites would reside in Houston.

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