The Die Is Cast – Marcus Camby and Reggie Williams have been cut. The opening night roster is set. Please secure all belongings and turn off your cellular devices. Thank you for flying with the Houston Rockets.
You Don’t Love Dwight – Danny Nowell loves Dwight. He may, in fact, be the first person I’ve ever read who said Dwight Howard was his favorite player. Nowell writes about it on Hoopspeak with a persuasive argument about how Howard has changed the game:
In fact, I would argue that no single player has done as much to usher in the current era of the space-and-shoot offense as Dwight has. LeBron and Erik Spoelstra can claim credit for making it work in pursuit of a championship, but Dwight was anchoring a 4-around-1 attack before Twitter existed. His Magic teams were built around his ability to suck defenses into the paint and find his teammates on the perimeter; the space Dwight created was large enough to make Hedo Turkoglu look like a franchise player. Howard, maligned by his critics for lacking a certain grace and finesse, is the brute force that ushered in this era of beautiful offense.
All That Power – The Rockets climbed all the way up to no. 5 in Marc Stein’s ESPN power rankings:
The sense I get from most well-wired observers is that the new Rockets, as well as they seem to be meshing already, aren’t going to be ready to contend for a title in Year 1 of the Dwight/Harden tag team. But Jeff Van Gundy, for one, is adamant that they can. Which has us re-evaluating.
If there’s anything that sets the Van Gundy brothers apart, it’s that they never seem to hold grudges against franchises or players with which they’ve parted ways.
John Schumann’s NBA.com rankings have the Rockets at no. 6, a leap from the no. 11 spot they occupied at the end of last season:
With a deadly pick-and-roll game, a commitment to space the floor and (now that he’s healthy) the best defensive anchor in the league, the Rockets are a tempting pick to come out of the West, especially if you believe that Daryl Morey will eventually swap Omer Asik for a power forward who can shoot and defend. Thirty-five percent of their preseason shots were threes, the highest rate in the league.
“Ouch” – That was Ed Davis’ reaction on Twitter to getting slapped with a $15,000 fine for hacking Donatas Motiejunas in last week’s preseason game between the Grizzlies and Rockets. Between Davis’ foul, Quincy Pondexter’s knee knock with Harden, the shoving match between Beverly, Howard and Gasol, and the flagrant called against Nowitzki during the Dallas game, it was an unusually violent preseason. Glad it’s over.
Denial? – The Oklahoman offers a well-reasoned defense of the Harden trade from the OKC perspective. It begins thusly:
The Thunder did not want to trade James Harden.
And the Thunder did not trade the James Harden you see today.
As the one-year anniversary of the most controversial transaction in Oklahoma City’s NBA history came and went Sunday, those are the two most important things to remember.
I’m sure Daryl Morey would love for every team he has fleeced to believe that they won the deal, so I bet he loved that article.
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