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Rockets Daily: Monday, September 6th, 2010

  • They say a Houston Rockets season has not actually begun until the first injury. With an upcoming training camp heralding the start of actual professional basketball, Chase Budinger sprained his ankle and will be out for four to six weeks. The high-flyer and generally chill bro was set to immediately increase his role thanks to Trevor Ariza’s departure causing a sudden dearth of flexibility at the 3. His defense and consistency will be closely scrutinized in a way they weren’t last season if he plays next to a roster that can contend, so losing a month or more of practice seems particularly ill-timed. Although, I suppose we’ve had less convenient injuries.
  • Chuck Hayes does not play around. He doesn’t let anyone back him down, doesn’t want to take any guff about how short he is and perennially exudes an aura of being too old for this stuff, even though he’s only 27. So if Chuck Hayes thinks the Rockets will be one of the five best defensive units in the NBA next year, we should all prepare for some crisp rotations and active feet. When talking to Rockets staff writer Jason Friedman, Hayes pointed to his current team’s character as evidence of a defensive resurgence for the boys in the ketchup and mustard: “It’s all about the guys we have here and how hard we play. We’ve got guys who can defend and with Yao down there, he’s kind of like a safety net. Sometimes we use him as a crutch and we obviously can’t do that and I’m surely early on we’ll have nights when we’re good and others when we won’t be. But I think we can put it together. Brad Miller is an unselfish player. Patrick Patterson is a real humble and willing-to-listen rookie – he doesn’t have an ego. Then you throw in Yao who is probably the most unselfish superstar out there. I think the pieces are all there. We don’t have any egos in this locker room. Nobody thinks they’re better than anyone else. And that’s a big key to playing good team defense.”
  • As has become the norm for this summer in basketball, though many are talking about the ethics of Carmelo Anthony’s non-trade-demand while obviously enjoying the ability to continue the Summer of LeBron, few have discussed the on-court merits of Anthony going to New Jersey, Houston or any of the other 27 teams that would be happy to have him join their ranks. Kelly Dwyer, of Ball Don’t Lie, decided to actually consider the packages available to the Nuggets and whether Anthony’s prospects in a different destination would produce significantly better results for Melo than he saw in Denver: “Sure, the Rockets would get better with Luis Scola in his prime and Aaron Brooks working it and Yao Ming coming around. The Knicks fans would swear up and down that this is the next step toward securing Chris Paul (who, mind you, is under contract until 2012). And the Nets would have a pretty fearsome troika with Anthony, Brook Lopez, and Devin Harris (and, if he pans out, Derrick Favors). But those teams don’t scare me. Maybe New Jersey, if Favors turns into a borderline All-Star. But that’s about it. And, the scary thing for those teams? Anthony could hang around for merely a year.”
  • Despite severe penalties for making the brand name look bad and the need for constant press coverage, the NBA will, at least for one more year, be a players’ league; therefore, when a story like Luther Head’s comes out, it gives NBA fans pause. Head was signed to a two year deal by outgoing Hornets GM Jeff Bower before allegedly failing a physical that made the contract null and void. According to Yahoo! Sports’ Adrian Wojnarowski, Hornets president Bruce Weber made up the report that Head’s surgically repaired ankle was still a problem in order to get his salary off of New Orleans’ books, leaving Head with a tough summer for finding a job. While Head may be best remembered by you and me as the worst Rockets playoff performer in recent memory, he deserves his chance to consistently underperform in this league as much as the next Tim Thomas, and Weber blatantly lied to achieve a less-than-worthy goal. In order to retain leverage and at least deal with a sated beast in ongoing CBA meetings, David Stern may need to do some talking to Weber, who just hurt his brand name.
  • It may be an older piece, but Dave Zirin is truly introducing a revolutionary idea to sports fans: ownership. According to Zirin, sports teams are more than payrolls and legal titles; they are entities with histories and ties that bind them far more to cities than the titles that owners possess. In the muddled discussion of race, ethics, loyalty and everything else known to man that came in the wake of The Decision, talk of Dan Gilbert and his “right” to signing LeBron James was quiet. Zirin, though, is not: “I’ve got something in the next Progressive where I defend LeBron not on the basis of what he did, but on that question of choice. It’s absolutely, positively his right to choose, and when people have this sense of entitlement regarding individual athletes, you get into some very bizarre, very morally nebulous territory, as if the athlete somehow owes the individual fan, or the organization, something… I would say that we need to make sure that owners do a certain group of things, or else there has to be a public debate and discussion about the city or the state putting the team in the hands of fans, or making it a public utility to serve the city. All I’m trying to do with this book is at least start a discussion about changing the terms of the debate here and changing some of these power relationships.”
  • I got a basketball cake for my birthday this year, and since, I have considered myself a basketball cake connoisseur. No, I don’t have any other reason, thank you for asking. Thus, I present the newest Houston Rockets cake, in all of its red-velvet-glory. I think I speak for a lot of people when I say, “Meh” to this confection. She makes an impressive ball and hoop, but after putting all that work into the rounded shape, it seems “Sheela” lost her focus and kind of whiffed on the rest. Thankfully, as a basketball cake connoisseur, I can always look back at former Rocket Allen Leavell’s wedding day masterpiece and be satisfied.
  • The New York Knicks will probably not be that good in 2010-2011. That doesn’t mean it won’t be as interesting to watch as any team on hardwood north of South Beach this year, though. Hardwood Paroxysm‘s Matt Moore ably discusses why the D’Antoni Knicks may look, at once, completely similar and antithetical to what we think of as a D’Antoni team.
  • Before I lose all available credibility, I’d like to point any interested Rocket fan towards Puma’s championship packs, a series of shoes based around the NBA title winners of different decades. In the 1990′s pack (I’m betting you’ve solved this one) comes these fly reminders that Houston remains Clutch City. Look out for the Dallas and Utah colorways, coming to stores as soon as either of those franchises gets some hardware.

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