Rockets Daily: Tuesday, September 7th, 2010

  • The final highlight of McGrady as a Rocket was appropriately brutal. For a man that had made “Houston Rockets” a YouTube search staple thanks to his ability to do things people shouldn’t be able to in 35 seconds, coming across the lane and putting one in the face of Tyrus Thomas should not have been an accomplishment that had to be lauded or elicited much hope. But, in 08-09, after weeks of questioning whether this team’s Big Three (such a mistake in concept that sports memorabilia are probably the best ways to have ever seen the three of them together) would ever be able to see the court together, seeing No. 1 springboard, even awkwardly and jarringly, anywhere felt downright inspirational. Things could be done. Line-ups could be penciled in. Titles could be discussed. Alas, looking back, it wasn’t much of a highlight. He looks unsure every moment of the drive, even as he saunters past Luol Deng, and almost falls backward after the dunk, barely avoiding the hovering Thomas’ hands that would have inevitably turned this last moment of glory into the demoralization it would eventually cause. The team’s reaction certainly couldn’t be called victorious; Yao Ming seems genuinely confused as to what has just taken place, and young contributors like Aaron Brooks and Carl Landry just seemed shocked, realizing that guy they saw in Adidas ads as a Magic really was their teammate. Only McGrady saw redemption in this moment, as evidenced in the sneer he projects a little too long in the face of Thomas, as maybe Tracy thought this was only the first of many jangling dunks en route to his first ring, or at least playoff success. As depressing and hollow as Tracy McGrady’s career has been, there isn’t much more tragic than looking at the high hopes of someone so obviously doomed.
  • Oh yeah, news. Oklahoma City architect Sam Presti and former Portland GM Kevin Pritchard have constantly been mentioned in the same breath with Daryl Morey, whether it be for their penchants for basketball analytics, youth or general success. Understandably so, both GMs lost many of their surrounding executives to NBA teams desperate for the same magic. The Rockets have, luckily, mostly avoided that, keeping our best kept secrets as close to the vest as possible. Gersson Rosas, Rockets VP of player personnel, is one one of those talents. Pro Basketball News‘ Chris Haynes spoke with Rosas about perhaps moving on and getting his own team in the future: “‘I value the opportunity to one day have my own team and to assume full operations of a basketball team,’ Rosas says. ‘But, there’s nothing like working for your hometown team and I have a great working relationship with Daryl Morey. Daryl really values my opinions and when your boss does that, it enhances your job.’”
  • Rivalries come few and far between in the NBA. While Rockets fans may have deep-seeded hatred for certain franchises, calling anyone the Rockets’ rival would be disingenuous, and this is for a team that has existed for more than four decades. For a team from a city best known for its amusement parks and essentially created to bring a little extra cash in to the Orlando area, rivalries seem almost out of the question. Well, unless the only other team in the surrounding area just became the most abhorred NBA creation since the synthetic ball. Magic Basketball‘s Eddy Rivera sees little difficulty in choosing his team’s biggest “rival”: “My vote would be for the Heat, more so because the stakes have never been higher between two teams from the state of Florida that will be vying for a championship in the same division, let alone the same conference. To me, the storyline is more compelling with Miami. There’s no question that the Celtics are a rival for the Magic, but it’s the Heat. It’s personal on a number of levels.”
  • The New Jersey Nets wonder who will be taking the majority of its shots in the 4th quarter. Though Brook Lopez is obviously the best Net on the roster, Nets Are Scorching‘s Evan Kaplan seems pretty intent on making sure the last shots go through the perimeter. He doesn’t believe Lopez has enough experience under pressure to be able to react to double teams, though Lopez is generally the team’s best offensive option and a sterling free-throw shooter. The Rockets, of course, find themselves in a similar situation. Are the Rockets’ perimeter options (Martin and Brooks) better than the Nets’ (Harris and Outlaw)?  Yao Ming is probably better than Lopez on his best day, but should any slow-footed big man be counted on for the quickest decision-making? Yao has found himself an uncomfortable last-minute playmaker in recent years, and I find it hard to believe he would have become significantly better in these situations after a year of inactivity. Is a team’s best player its default option at the end of games? What is the acceptable disparity in talent level between first and second option before it becomes insulting to the former to doubt his late-game abilities? These are not questions that are likely to be resolved soon and may only become muddier with a roster-shifting trade.
  • Sebastian Pruiti, of both Nets Are Scorching and the brilliant NBA Playbook, has created this fantastic “Season at a Glance” infographic that clearly illustrates the (less-than-imaginative) playbook of the 09-10 Nets. Because the world is a fantastic place at times, Pruiti will be creating one for each NBA team.
  • 48 Minutes of Hell recently talked about the death of the Spurs role player, an interchangeable burst of effort and shooting that had seemed child’s play for R.C. Buford to replace (Bowen, Barry, Kerr, Horry, Mason, Finley… even Stephen Jackson and Derek Anderson). That was until the Spurs realized it could only focus on its role players because of the stability of its core, a core that’s abilities are rapidly eroding. The Rockets have been building around Yao Ming for so long that we may have been accused of the same crime without half of the reasoning, yet I think its clear Morey has always been in the game for superior talents that could contribute to the point of, if not stardom, at least the appearance of stardom for the sake of future deals. Carl Landry sparkles as an example of a talent that was seen as one-dimensional, given the opportunity to flesh out and sold high. Now, as Aaron Brooks seems to be prepared to take a lesser role in this year’s offense, it seems like his value may soon decline; I know it’s been said here before, but it seems like this situation is begging for another upcoming deal.
  • Remember, Red 94 still needs a video contributor. If you have the skills and are interested, contact Rahat as soon as possible. Having highlights with these Rockets Dailies throughout the season would allow me (and the rest of us) a lot of creative flexibility and give us another very useful member of the team. Thanks to all of those who’ve already responded.

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