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The Rockets Daily – August 29, 2013

ICYMI – Defensive specialist Ronnie Brewer’s signing is official, bringing the number of players signed to the team to 19. Just to review, an NBA roster holds 15 players, the active roster holds only 12, and most coaches–including McHale play with about an 8-man rotation. Allow me a few inferences:

  • Chances are that less than half of those players will make a meaningful contribution to winning this year.
  • Training camp may call to mind the pre-1989 days when the draft had seven rounds, and the struggle for roster spots probably looked like this.
  • The role-redundancy on the roster–every position has at least 3 potential rotation guys–may be Morey’s way of maintaining the flexibility to make a blockbuster trade mid-season while still winning on the way to a high playoff seed. Virtually no one on the team outside of Howard, Harden and Asik cannot have his production conceivably replaced by other guys on the roster. That’s not a knock on Parsons and Lin as much as an endorsement of the depth of talent at the point and on the wing.

J.B. Q & AThe interview with assistant coach J.B. Bickerstaff on Rockets.com might be the most interesting thing you read about the team all week, and sheds some light on the team’s coaching philosophy. Pull-quotes after the jump.

On playing Lin and Beverly together in a super small-ball lineup against OKC in the playoffs:

What we figured was that we had to put as much skill on the floor as we possibly could. That’s not a knock to our big guys, but (Oklahoma City) was just crowding the lane and living with our big guys having to catch and shoot and taking the ball out of James’, Chandler’s and all our playmakers’ hands.

So we figured the more spacing we could put on the floor, and the more guys who could catch the ball and then make plays from the perimeter – driving their bigs, making Ibaka have to guard a guy on the perimeter and have to slide his feet – that was what we were going to have to do to have success.

To all of you who would trade Jeremy Lin in a heartbeat for Ryan Anderson: go back and read his comments again. Then go watch how the Heat beat the Spurs in the Finals again. Good defenses in today’s NBA force complementary players to put the ball on the floor and make plays. Lin is the team’s second-best playmaker. You could replace him with a one-trick-pony role player who looks more efficient in the regular season, but when that one trick is taken away, that role player becomes a liability. Exhibit A: Danny Green’s game log for the NBA Finals. Rant over.

On playing Howard and Asik together:

We’ve got a roster of very talented people and, at the end of the day in this league, talent wins. So we have to do a great job of being creative and getting our best five players on the floor. If that ends up being (Asik) and Dwight more often than not, then so be it.

But I think when you look at the teams that win, they put talent on the floor. We can’t sit back and say, ‘Oh well, these guys are too big to play together.’ We have to be creative enough on both sides of the ball to put them in positions to succeed, and if it’s together then so be it.

On pace:

We’re going to play up-tempo. If it’s going to be as fast as we played last year I don’t know. Obviously again: we’re going to play to our guys’ strengths. Our bigs have proven that they can run. Our smalls have proven that they can play fast. We still believe that things happen easier in the first part of the clock. So we’re going to try to get up and down, but we’re not going to do it to spite our strengths. We’ve got bigs who can get busy in the paint – if we need to hold for a second to get them down there, then we’re going to hold it for a second to get them down there.

On chemistry:

It’s not always easy. It could go seamlessly but you never know. Some guys, when they play with other elite players, they end up being too unselfish; or guys who are used to having the ball in their hands all the time, now they’re not as aggressive or as instinctive because they’re thinking too much out there. The game changes. There’s a transition process that has to take place and it doesn’t always go according to your timetable.

Just go read the whole thing. It’s a good late-August basketball fix.

HypeThe Dream Shake has some great media analysis of the pressure being placed on the Rockets this season. One salient point was that some pundits will put championship expectations on the team, not because they expect the team to be able to win a championship this year, but because making this season a referendum on Dwight’s decision will be a good storyline in lieu of the Lakers having a decent team.

Let me put it in a little more vulgar terms: some media members will root for the Rockets to implode because that storyline will create content that millions of Laker fans will devour, which will be good for business. Money talks.

It’s not much different from what teams in L.A. and New York endure every year, but it’s the new reality for Houston. If the Lakers perform as badly as expected, plenty of Laker fans will be hate-watching Rockets games, looking for validation in Howard’s failure.

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About the author: John Eby got on the Rockets bandwagon in 1994 and never got off. He is a public relations guy and recovering TV journalist living in South Carolina.