Houston Rockets Potpourri: May 29, 2016

  • I was planning on writing a post today about the Ty Lawson disaster, but I woke up later than expected and don’t feel like staring at numbers.  So I will treat you all to some thoughts, some (most) of which I already tweeted about in the past five minutes.  First, Klay Thompson: he’s incredible and was a God last night.  But just watch – in a display of the recency/significance bias which characterizes much of sports discussion, the absurd notion that Thompson is a superior shooting guard to James Harden will even further cement itself over the summer.

  • I think I’d prefer Jeremy Lin at his expected price tag over Mike Conley at the max.
  • We’re all down on the team right now, and understandably so, but Harden and Capela gives you two rock solid building blocks upon which to build.  That’s a pretty good start.  To that end, I regret how things played out this season and I regret my motivations in wanting that the team make the playoffs.  Had they been able to fetch a first rounder for Howard, had the Motiejunas trade not been rescinded, and had they missed the playoffs, you could have been staring at three first round picks and wads of cap space through which to build your team this summer.  That was obviously Morey’s plan.  And if you hit on those picks, you can have a young foundation without needing to rely on success in free agency.
  • I kind of hope the Rockets eschew the big game market this summer and focus on Class B free agents like Lin and Alan Crabbe to solidify their depth.  If you strike out on the top guys, you end up with nothing.  I also still think sometimes about how the Rockets had Kyle Lowry wait while they courted Chris Bosh a few summers ago.  There’s no clear indication Lowry would’ve chosen Houston over Toronto, but one can’t deny the odds would have been greater had they made him feel like a priority.
  • You can tell the Dwight saga has shifted my views on free agency a bit.  I don’t regret any of what the Rockets have done.  There was a sound rationale behind their team-building strategy in this era.  But imagine, had they traded for Millsap (using the cap space earmarked for Howard), retained Asik, and kept Chandler Parsons, would they have been better off than they currently are?  Most likely, yes.
  • Maybe this imminent choke job by OKC shifts the pendulum in Durant’s mind back to testing the waters this summer?  (Despite what I wrote literally a few lines above, I just can’t stop big game hunting).  Maybe if they go down in a sea of Westbrook turnovers and bad decisions, he decides a change of scenery would be for the best.  The chances are slim to none – had Klay Thompson not gone supernova, the Thunder were on their way to Cleveland.  But its really a shame, because Durant and a prime-Harden really is a match made in basketball heaven.  Westbrook might be the better overall player, especially when factoring in his intensity, but I really think Harden, with his natural playmaking abilities and overall composure is the better fit for Durant.  This current evolved version of Harden–but as a full-time facilitator–is something I’ve salivated over in my mind’s eye, and we’ll probably never see it because he’ll probably never have a teammate he deems worthy of necessitating that he take a step back.  Pun intended.
  • I’m still thinking about D’Antoni, and as I said before, I’m intrigued.  But I just can’t shake the idea of marginal return.  Houston was 7th in offense and down in the 20’s defensively.  If that 7th ranked offense improves to say, 4th, does that really move the needle?  Lets say they go up to 4th in offense and 15th in defense.  I don’t think that would be anywhere near the same net payoff as the scenario where they fell to 11th in offense, but climbed to say, 9th in defense.  That’s my problem with the D’Antoni signing.  Sure, it’ll be much more aesthetically pleasing.  But is the marginal benefit really adding any value?  The same thinking applies to Harden as well.  Maybe he gets a little bit more efficient; maybe D’Antoni puts him in some better spots to get off his shot.  Is there really that much room for improvement on the offensive end?  (The only facet in which he declined this year was in shooting the ‘3’.)  Where he could have really taken the next step for himself and for his team is if an authoritarian figure challenged him to commit on the defensive end full time.

About the author: Rahat Huq is a lawyer in real life and the founder and editor-in-chief of www.Red94.net.

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