The Rockets are in the midst of a start reminiscent of the dreadful 2015-2016 campaign which veered the franchise off its course of respectability onto a brief detour before the subsequent recovery. They famously lost all-world talent Trevor Ariza last summer, and famously signed all-world malcontent Carmelo Anthony to the league minimum. Houston is terrible, and the slothful early takes ascribe the fall from grace directly to those two causes.
The fact of the matter is that Houston has problems everywhere, far beyond which a re-signed Ariza [and exploding tax bill] could have fixed. Three of the team’s five games have been played without one of its two best players. Eric Gordon has been terrible. Clint Capela has regressed. The man signed to replace Ariza has also barely played.
The Rockets are currently 25th in defensive rating. But they are also 20th in offensive rating. They are 27th in rebounding percentage and 22nd in defensive rebounding percentage. They are 24th in overall field goal percentage. Right now, the Rockets are a bad team overall, in almost every facet of basketball. Keeping Trevor Ariza would not have been the fix.
The new rules could be contributory. And the loss of Jeff Bzdelik has perhaps not been underscored enough. The team does not have the personnel currently to defend the way it wants. And its offensive personnel has not performed.
The team went 14-0 last season without Ariza and played its worst ball of the regular season when Luc Mbah a Moute was missing; Mbah a Moute was not a part of the team in the conference finals. In theory, replacing Ariza with Ennis should have plugged the hole. But Ennis has been out. Perhaps we should wait upon passing judgment until the team is at full health?
I thought where Houston would miss Ariza would be in the area of defensive communication. But filling that void would have required an adjustment, regardless of the team’s ineptitude in every other area.
I think more than ever, Daryl Morey needs to go all in on Jimmy Butler, as has been rumored. Aside from the obvious–he would give the team a defensive-minded wing–they’re past the point of hedging. They can’t cling to the future when the deals they’ve already inked have them “all in.”