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@  majik19 : (13 October 2015 - 09:09 PM) Apparently we claimed Arsalan Kazemi off waivers from the Hawks today... yet another undersized (6'7") power forward for Morey's cupboard.
@  Mario Peña : (10 October 2015 - 01:12 PM) If your part if the Red94 Fantasy Basketball League check the thread to vote for the date and time for the draft event. Thanks y'all!
@  jorgeaam : (07 October 2015 - 08:47 PM) Guys we need 1 more owner for the Red94 fantasy league, if interested please comment on the post in the fantasy basketball thread
@  slick shoes : (07 October 2015 - 06:50 PM) Kobe ranked one spot higher than Ariza? Is this based on legacy or...??
@  slick shoes : (07 October 2015 - 04:13 PM) It was hard to keep up with both the Astros and Rockets at the same time. Should be interesting on Thursday with the Texans and Astros on simultaneously.
@  Mario Peña : (07 October 2015 - 04:09 PM) It was fun to have the Rockets on last night! Right now I'm watching the Celtics versus Milan and Alessandro Gentile is impressive.
@  jorgeaam : (06 October 2015 - 07:47 PM) Well, thinking twice about it, I'd rather have him score less and have the team as a whole do better. Lawson should take a lot of his load off
@  jorgeaam : (06 October 2015 - 07:47 PM) Loving that, hope he hits 30 PPG this year
@  thejohnnygold : (06 October 2015 - 06:15 PM) Someone is feeling confident :) : LINK
@  jorgeaam : (06 October 2015 - 05:54 PM) 10 Teams done, will need 2 more
@  Mario Peña : (06 October 2015 - 02:35 PM) Alright guys, if anyone is interested in joining the Red94 fantasy basketball league we could use one more player to get us to 10 teams (or three to get us to 12 teams). Just check the thread in the Fantasy Basketball forum. Thanks!
@  thejohnnygold : (05 October 2015 - 06:23 PM) I use leaguepass here in Austin with no problems...
@  skip 2 my lou : (05 October 2015 - 03:14 PM) Hey fellas, I'm a rocket fan but I live in the heart of Dallas. Does anybody know if I buy NBA Leaguepass if it's too close to be subject to blackouts?
@  Losthief : (02 October 2015 - 02:24 AM) tks jg
@  thejohnnygold : (29 September 2015 - 05:16 AM) FYI, it was media day today. Interviews are up at NBA.com
@  slick shoes : (23 September 2015 - 06:37 PM) kind of late in the day but NBATV is broadcasting classis Rockets games all day today.
@  SadLakerFan : (16 September 2015 - 04:37 AM) Man, as a Laker fan, I'm learning how little you care about the off season when your team sucks. Anyway, a quick moment to remember Moses. Still remember watching the 81 team as a kid - losing record, NBA Finals. I would have cried w/joy if they could have beaten the Celtics.
@  jorgeaam : (15 September 2015 - 08:30 PM) http://bleacherrepor...ist-after-crash
@  jorgeaam : (15 September 2015 - 08:30 PM) So to celebrate his new contract, Montrezl Harrell saved someone's life on monday
@  thejohnnygold : (14 September 2015 - 04:36 PM) A good article from Blinebury talking about when Hakeem and Moses used to play in the park. LINK

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Josh Smith and the end of Moreyball?


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#1 Doug

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    Posted 06 January 2015 - 05:57 AM

    I’ve been a Rocket fan since 1991.  After watching the Rockets for over two decades, the Rockets decision to sign Josh Smith has led me to doubt whether I’ll continue to follow them this year and in the future.  I’d like to explain why I feel this way.  (Given the overly dramatic tone of this first paragraph, the more astute readers may have been clued in on the fact that this post is primarily a therapy session for me.  Please feel free to skip.  J

     

    I like the Rockets for two reasons.  The first reason is geography.  I was born in Houston and grew up watching them.  That’s probably why most people like the Rockets.  The second reason is Morey.  Ever since I read Moneyball in 2003, I’ve been a huge fan of the use of statistics to better understand sports.  That book really opened my eyes to a lot of things, including how often conventional wisdom in sports is completely bogus.  I now find it inconceivable that such rampant stupidity and superstition dominated sports for so long. 

    Given that, I’ve been a huge fan of Morey and how he heavily relies on number crunching to make smart decisions.  He’s also not afraid to try new things and go against conventional wisdom.  Given all of that, cheering for the Rockets for me is like cheering for the triumph of science over superstition.  I want the Rockets to win not only because they are my home team, but because their success is further proof that data-driven decision making is the right way to run a sports team. 

     

    But then Morey signed Smith. 

     

    I find Morey’s move to be disheartening on two levels. 

     

    The first is that Josh Smith is not good at basketball .  Wait.  Let me rephrase that.  He’s terrible at basketball -- terrible.  An average power forward in the NBA has a true shooting percentage of 54%.  Smith has matched that once in his entire career.  This year his true shooting percentage is 42% (!); last year, it was only 46% (!).  We all know the issue here.  He takes way too many threes, despite not being a good three-point shooter.  He is a terrible free-throw shooter.  And he takes way too many long twos.  He’s not a young player who you might expect to improve.  This is who he is.  Thus, with respect to one of the most important things to being a good player -- scoring efficiently – Smith fails miserably.  And the rest of his game can’t make up for his horrific shooting -- indeed, it would be impossible for almost any NBA player to be decent with Smith’s shooting percentage.  It’s true that Smith is a decent shot blocker and can get some steals, but those added possessions are cancelled out by his high number of turnovers.  He’s an average rebounder at best, so no advantage there.  He does get an above average amount of assists.  But a couple of extra assists a game, and whatever else you want to give him credit for that does not show up in the box score, cannot make up for his terrible, terrible shooting.  He’s a net negative on the floor.  It’s like every game we start off with a 2 or 3 possession deficit.    

     

    When we first signed Smith, those who supported his signing said he’d wise up on the Rockets and play better at the 4 instead of the 3.  But the exact same Josh Smith who was terrible on the Pistons has been terrible on the Rockets.  Indeed, he continues to take long (and even contested!) twos and threes -- despite the fact that he can’t hit either.  His turnovers have also been through the roof.  Nor has his shooting abated.  He has somehow managed over 10 shots a game playing only 26 minutes a game.  That’s the second most shots per minute on the team, behind only James Harden.  That’s right.  The worst shooter in the NBA takes the second most shots per minute on our team.  Let that sink in.

     

    So, we just signed a terrible basketball player to play meaningful minutes.  In my view, we went from a potential title contender to a team that will be lucky to make it out of the first round. That’s disheartening. 

     

    Morey’s decision is disheartening on a second and more pernicious level.  The decision to sign Smith, in my view, shows a serious lack of judgment by Morey and makes me doubt his commitment to data-driven decision making.  Smith’s failure is entirely foreseeable.  Smith is exactly the type of player a smart, data-driven GM should avoid.  It was an incredibly stupid signing.  (And the fact that Smith was allowed to start is beyond baffling to me.)  And while this may appear irrational to the two people who have read this far, it makes me not want to support the Rockets.  I feel betrayed.  I do.  No longer will cheering for the Rockets be like cheering for the force over the dark side.  We’re now just another team, who sometime make entirely inexplicable decisions based on superstitions and data-free hopes that a player will be something that he is not. 

     

    Or maybe Morey will restore my faith in him by realizing he made a terrible mistake, not fall for the sunk-cost fallacy like most GMs, and cut Smith.  Maybe.  But probably not.  


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    #2 timetodienow1234567

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    Posted 06 January 2015 - 06:32 AM

    He had to try. He's thinking about being able to re-sign Dwight in 2016. Plus Smith is very cheap.
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    Why so Serious? :D


    #3 Sir Thursday

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    Posted 06 January 2015 - 11:12 AM

    Worth pointing out that Smith does contribute in ways other than his [bad] shooting (and presumably those are the things Morey was looking for when he picked him up). It's difficult to look past it when he hoists three 3s in crunch time of a close game though...

     

    ST


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    #4 adonneus

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      Posted 06 January 2015 - 01:55 PM

      Josh Smith was a short-term, low-risk gamble. If you listen to the latest podcast from the Rockets website, in which you'll hear an interview with Morey, you'll be reminded of how much confidence Morey has in McHale to bring the best out in his players. Just like Morey gives McHale young, unproven talent to mold into great NBA players (Parsons, Beverley, D-Mo, to name just a few), Morey has decided to give McHale a shot a fixing a veteran up. It might work and it might not, but again, it's low-risk at the price.

       

      One thing I don't understand about the pervasive lamentations concerning the Josh Smith signing is that everyone seems to think that, despite Morey/McHale's history of complete willingness to bench underperforming players, some people seem to think that, even if Smith completely ignores everything that Morey and McHale tell him to do, we'll still start him every game and pass him the ball on some blind hope that he'll get better.

       

      There were a few games where they started Smith since allegedly, that was part of the deal. But when it wasn't working, they benched him. By benching Smith, the Rockets have shown already that they are very willing to knock him down a few notches if he doesn't  play his part on the team. I see absolutely no reason not to believe that they will continue to knock him down through the rotation if he doesn't shape up and take the right kinds of shots. That leaves us with a worst-case scenario of an extra couple million on the books and a pissed-off guy at the very end of our bench. If we had paid K-Pop and Ariza an extra million each, would anyone be saying the sky is faling? I don't think so, which is why I can't understand why you think that we "will be lucky to make it out of the first round."


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      #5 Doug

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        Posted 06 January 2015 - 03:48 PM

        I thank you each for taking part in my therapy. 

         

        Timetodie, why did he “have to”?  We were a very good team without Josh Smith.  And with the team slowly getting healthier, we were going to get better.  And while Smith is cheap, he wasn’t free.  Setting aside the money we are paying him, he is taking up precious minutes, which have been costly.  He also costs us Black, who was looking like he was going to be a very good role player for us. 

         

        ST, but he doesn’t really contribute all that much in other things.  He’s not really elite at anything else.  And while he does get a few more steals and blocks than the typical forward, the advantage gained there is lost by his high turnovers. 

         

        Adonneus, I disagree he was a low-risk gamble.  The expected pay off in signing a player as terrible as Smith is close to zero.  On the other hand, it wasn’t cost free.  We are giving up some wins by playing him.  That’s a cost.  We are giving up a roster spot, which was a pretty huge cost because we gave up a young, promising player in Black. 

         

        Moreover, I disagree with your point that Morey was smart to see if McHale could fix Smith.  Smith doesn’t need fixing like most players.  He just needs to stop shooting threes and long twos.  It’s very simple.  Every basketball fan knows this.  Everyone reading this knows this.  Presumably, Smith has been told this.  Nevertheless, for whatever reason, he keeps doing it.  He’s not going to stop.  This is who he is.  This reminds me of my female friends who date losers because they really think they are going to fix them.  Smith is not some young player who just needs some coaching.  When I first heard the Rockets had signed Smith, I had hoped that they had basically told him he wasn’t allowed to take long twos or threes.  (To be fair to me, I was still in denial at that point.)  But that hope was dashed when, in his very first game, he took a fade away (!) contested (!) long two (!) relatively early in the shot clock (!).  I’m not sure I’ve ever seen a player with worse shot selection.  What’s been so shocking with Smith is how many incredibly stupid plays he makes a game.  Those sorts of plays lead me to believe, perhaps incorrectly, that he’s just not very bright and not a good candidate to respond to coaching.  (But, again, saying he needs better “coaching” is misleading because he just needs to stop freaking taking long shots.) 

         

        Regarding your point that you think we’ll eventually bench him and stop playing him.  Maybe.  Maybe.  But I doubt it.  I doubt it because the decision to sign him at first was so mind-numbingly stupid, that I don’t have faith that they’ll do the right thing with him.  And to the extent that they signed him believing that he’d really change, they can see for themselves that he’s not going to.  Either he’s going to stop taking lots of stupid shots or he’s not.  Why would he suddenly stop?  Why continue to let him play now?  What rational human being believes that he’s just going to finally get it after so many years? 

         

        And even if we do bench him eventually, how many wins will he have cost us by then?  Last year, the gap between us as the number 4 seed (a fringe contender) and the number 7 seed (lucky to make it out of the first round) was four games.  Smith will almost certainly cost us that many games, particularly in light of the minutes he’s taking away from much better players.  


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        #6 thejohnnygold

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        Posted 06 January 2015 - 04:02 PM

        Josh Smith was a short-term, low-risk gamble. If you listen to the latest podcast from the Rockets website, in which you'll hear an interview with Morey, you'll be reminded of how much confidence Morey has in McHale to bring the best out in his players. Just like Morey gives McHale young, unproven talent to mold into great NBA players (Parsons, Beverley, D-Mo, to name just a few), Morey has decided to give McHale a shot a fixing a veteran up. It might work and it might not, but again, it's low-risk at the price.

         

        One thing I don't understand about the pervasive lamentations concerning the Josh Smith signing is that everyone seems to think that, despite Morey/McHale's history of complete willingness to bench underperforming players, some people seem to think that, even if Smith completely ignores everything that Morey and McHale tell him to do, we'll still start him every game and pass him the ball on some blind hope that he'll get better.

         

        There were a few games where they started Smith since allegedly, that was part of the deal. But when it wasn't working, they benched him. By benching Smith, the Rockets have shown already that they are very willing to knock him down a few notches if he doesn't  play his part on the team. I see absolutely no reason not to believe that they will continue to knock him down through the rotation if he doesn't shape up and take the right kinds of shots. That leaves us with a worst-case scenario of an extra couple million on the books and a pissed-off guy at the very end of our bench. If we had paid K-Pop and Ariza an extra million each, would anyone be saying the sky is faling? I don't think so, which is why I can't understand why you think that we "will be lucky to make it out of the first round."

         

        I agree here.  I'd like to add that McHale said, "it's not who starts a game, but who finishes it".  They have already decided Smith isn't a starter and with a couple more showings like last night against Chicago he won't be seeing the finishes either.  Morey and McHale aren't going to let one guy ruin what is a very good shot at a title run.  They aren't going to let one ego hamstring an entire organization.  Despite Morey's Micro-approach to basketball, I have always marveled at his "big picture" focus that dominates all other decisions.  That is a rare combination.

         

        Going back to one of your points, Doug, I'd like to suggest that Morey is very much on top of this signing.  The statistical analysis of Smith is hard to argue against.  So I will put out this idea: I presume that Morey and Co. (coaches included) are frantically scouring every second of game tape with Smith and crunching numbers day and night.  His performance here and with these players is what matters.  They will figure it out.

         

        Smith does bring a lot to the table.  His passing is good--just not right now.  Guys aren't where he thinks they will be.  Harden never even thought Smith was going to whizz a pass by his head when he was under the basket (which would have led to a lay up or foul shots).  Let's be frank, D-Mo is in the same boat here--some of his passes result in turnovers because players (mostly Dwight) don't see them coming.  This will work itself out.  Not completely, but every player--EVERY PLAYER--suffers from bad passes at times.

         

        Smith will be reigned in.  These guys watch film.  The coaches tell them what's what.  Smith is quickly going to see that he is not as good as the guys he is playing with.

         

        Speaking of, can we get a little D-Mo love?  Many worried about D-Mo's minutes and confidence when Smith was signed.  Turns out, neither his minutes nor his confidence have waned and he is killing guys.  He just went up against Noah and Gasol and performed like an all-star.  I wish they had given him more chances down the stretch, but I understand the Rockets are content to sit back and let things happen when they are studying them--which is what is happening with out late game stuff.  We are experimenting and trying to find out what we have and what we can do besides Harden ISO's.  People do still want that, right?  Well, there are growing pains to get there.

         

        I'll tell you this much, Doug.  If you let Josh Smith turn you off from being a Rockets fan then he truly has won.  Don't let Josh Smith beat you.  He will be long gone sooner or later--fandom never dies.

         

        I'd also like to add that one should not under-estimate the power of "gut feelings".  There is a reason Morey hired McHale and it's not because he loves analytics.  McHale embodies "going from the gut".  Morey values that as much as he values his numbers.  Statistics do not give us answers in sports--merely educated guesses.  Ultimately, decisions are still made based on human evaluation.

         

        There is no way to measure why Beverley often out-rebounds guys nearly a foot taller than he is.  He just does.  Statistics can only show that he does it.  Watching him shows you his athleticism, heart, smarts, and hustle.  Do you really need a number for that?  Not trying to sway you from your love of analytics--just pointing out that both sides have merits and both have their faults.  Balance brings out the best in everything.


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        #7 thejohnnygold

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        Posted 06 January 2015 - 04:25 PM

        I'd also like to add that Josh Smith is not single-handedly killing this team.  I saw so many things in last night's games and the games we've played over the last month or so.  Simple things.  The basics.  Blocking out on rebounds.  Making better passes to shooters.  Finishing at the rim.  Finishing on fast breaks.  Lazy passes.  Dwight looks like his legs lost some strength/springiness.  Players not knocking down a good % of open shots.  So much stuff and not one of them is related to Smith.

         

        On top of that, the coaches/staff are openly saying that they are experimenting with line-ups now that we have 3 new players.  You aren't going to beat many good teams (and the majority of teams we are losing to in this stretch are GOOD teams) with that many things going on at once.  Yet, we aren't getting blown out (Pellies game aside).  This is a good thing.  It is also worth noting this free throw disparity that keeps rearing it's head.  Not sure what to make of that, but I will be keeping an eye on it.


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        #8 MrLobble

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          Posted 06 January 2015 - 04:37 PM

          When placing a valuation on a player, all I see is people using offensive statistical analyses to support their argument. Everyone on the planet knows J Smoove is an atrocious offensive player in terms of offensive efficiency at face value, but for some reason, Morey has sought to acquire him more than once...

          Just to play devil's advocate, what if Morey's ultimate team valuation model places a lot of value on key defensive coefficients rather than offense efficiency? Just seems like the broadcasters, bloggers, and analysts are missing something big. They're always regurgitating simple analytics that are available to anyone.

          Just think of a few of the aquisitions over the years: Brewer, Smith, Howard, Ariza, Asik, Bev, Camby, Dalembert, Landry, Lowry, R Brewer, Hamilton etc. (probably left out a bunch)

          This is just something I've been thinking about since I heard Morey was so high on Smith...
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          #9 Alituro

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            Posted 06 January 2015 - 06:16 PM

            I am of the school of thought that this was an extremely low risk move for DM. Smith was the same guy everyone (except probably Doug) was pining for to team up with Harden as a "plan B" if we didn't land Dwight. He is, without a doubt more valuable than his contract, although not near the level Detroit was is paying him. We were worried about him being a "chukker", but last night 8 of his 20 shots were outside of 12' (he hit 50% of those) against the Heat: 2 out of 7 shots were outside of 12' and in the blowout from the Pellies  3 out of 11 shots were outside of 12'. Although Dwight would have taken zero of those shots, and Smith shouldn't either, it hardly deserves the "chukker" label. He's a decent defender (definitely no worse than Jones), good shot blocker, able rebounder and a willing, decent passer who's turnover rate is sure to drop as he gets more acclimated with his teammates. At least he brings some offense compared to his predecessor (Black). I still prefer Jones and Dmo at the starting PF spot, but having Smith is a nice luxury to have especially at the bargain, to help keep our post guys healthy and continue weathering the storm without Jones. One thing is for sure, Smith isn't going to keep us out of the playoffs which is all that matters in this conference, homecourt not offering much advantage (the top 5 teams are 11-5 or better on the road this season).

             

            Morey has had his eye on Smith for years now. I assure you, it's not because he's particularly good-looking like Parsons, or because he's passed Daryl's "eye-test" with his performances. It's because the same analytics that solidified your love for the Rockets other than locale, show Daryl that there's something of immense value to be had there. And he has a coach (and consultant) in place that are probably the most qualified individuals to get the most out of any post player. While you may not like the signing, and to even more-than-casual viewers it may seem like a bad move and probably won't pan out, there is not a single poster here qualified to call any of Morey's moves "incredibly stupid". 

             

            If IMWT, then IMWT to the end...


            Edited by Alituro, 06 January 2015 - 06:21 PM.

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            #10 Losthief

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            Posted 07 January 2015 - 03:16 AM

            Just for reference....

             

            by +/- (thus impact on game)

            Memphis-2nd best on team +15

            Spurs-2nd worst on team -11

            Wizards-4th best (and only non-bench player in a pos) +1 (for ref. terry, brewer and joey dorsey were plus 20s everyone else was negatives)

            Hornets-4th best +15

            Pellies-a -10 (higher(?)/better than harden, howard, d-mo, ariza, terry, bev and brewer) <---basically our normal rotation, the bench all did better with extended run

            Heat-6th best (highest non-starter) +15

            Bulls-worst at -19

             

            So on just raw +/- since he's joined he is a net +6 while the rockets have gone 3-4. Coincidentally D-Mo (his comp.) is also a net +6, but a much less volatile one (usually single digits either way) other than Pellies game where everyone in red was really bad.

             

            Harden is a net -6

            Howard is a net 0

            Ariza is a net +44*** (What!!! but yeah...i added it twice to make sure)

            Bev is a net -11

             

            ***His subs (brewer and kostas) are each +3 and net 0 respectively showing me that Ariza is playing out of his mind somehow even though he can't shoot right now. Also we are losing out by cutting Ariza's minutes for brewer/kostas but that had to be done we were running him into the ground.

             

            So really to me it comes down to harden, howard and bev are not performing to there usual levels right now. This could be due to Josh and integrating new pieces, or it could just be a lull in a long season, but yeah except for terry (+26 somehow at his age and min.) our guard rotation (harden, bev, brewer, terry) are bringing us a +12 with almost all of that being the ageless wonder that is Jason Terry.

             

            Now, obviously watching the games chemistry is off, and his turnovers need to come down (which i hope is due to not knowing his teammates yet), but the guy is really good at defense and in transition. In the half court offense he is downright awful you are correct. Hopefully coaching/ H&H will weed him out of the half court offense as we progress this season. I think alot of this due to him being either really good for the team or really bad, and as we all know the bad really stays with you. My personal hope is McHale gets better at realizing when we have good versus bad josh and plays him heavy with one and sits him for D-Mo with the other, but we will see.

             

            ------+/- numbers from espn and only in the games since Josh joined the rockets------


            Edited by Losthief, 07 January 2015 - 03:21 AM.

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            LoSTHieF

            I'd Rather Be Lucky Than Skilled


            #11 bboley24

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              Posted 07 January 2015 - 03:02 PM

              Here to start a trend.  

              Josh Smith Effect

              JSE...

              Original?  I think not.


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              #12 Doug

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                Posted 07 January 2015 - 05:04 PM

                thejohnnygold, I don’t agree it that it matters who ends the game, not who starts it.  It matters who gets playing time.  Whether Smith plays the first 25 or the last 25 minutes of the game is really irrelevant.  I know we remember the end of the game more than the beginning, but points scored and allowed count just as much at the beginning as at the end. 

                 

                Regarding Morey figure it out.  I disagree.  I disagree because there’s nothing to figure out here.  It’s simple in this case.  Smith is a horrific shooter, and he takes lots of terrible shots.  That’s his problem.  It’s not like with a lot of young players where you hope they improve this or that.  With Smith, we all know why he’s terrible.  And there’s a very, very simple solution to this problem: Smith needs to stop shooting those terrible shots.  But he doesn’t.  He has taken those shots for years now.  Why would he stop taking them now?  Really, why? 

                 

                Regarding Smith bringing a lot to the table otherwise.  Again, I disagree.  He’s a decent shot blocker (but not someone you fear driving against), and he gets some steals.  But he’s a turnover machine.  I grant you that he won’t continue to turn the ball over at the historically bad rate he has been at with the Rockets.  Small sample size, new team, etc.  But over the course of his career he has always been turnover prone.  That really negates some of the added possessions he gets on the defensive end.  And what else does he do well?  Really?  His rebounded often gets discussed, but he’s an average rebounder.  (He’s no Black, for instance.)  He's an above-average passer, I grant you that.  Is it possible that his individual defense makes up for some of his box score deficiencies?  Sure.  By my eye test, he looks lazy on defense and has missed a huge number of assignments.  But maybe that’s just my eye deceiving me and his getting used to a new system.  Setting that aside, he would have to be an incredibly elite one on one defender to make up for his horrific shooting and his otherwise mediocre stats.  I don’t even think it would be possible to be so good at one on one defense in the NBA to make up for his otherwise terrible play.  And, even if he were elite, that would make him an average player in the NBA.  He simply can’t be good or great because of his horrible shooting and turnovers. So, really, we're talking best case scenario of maybe a slightly above average player?  

                 

                Regarding gut feeling.  Gut feelings are simply prejudices wrapped in superstition.  If the numbers don’t back it up, they don’t back it up.  Your example of Beverly is a good example.  The numbers can’t explain why Beverly out rebounds someone bigger than him.  That’s his skill, effort, etc.  And the numbers can’t evaluate his hustle and determination.  But the numbers can measure how many rebounds he gets a game.  And that’s the important number.  I don’t care how much heart or desire Beverly has.  I care about his ability to get rebounds.  And if he tried super hard, and cared more than anyone, but still didn’t get rebounds, who cares?  And if he didn’t care at all, but still led all guards in rebounds, I wouldn’t complain. 

                 

                Often time “gut feelings” are nothing more than our attempts to justify our own false perceptions.  When we all watch games, we notice crazy athletes more than the quiet, unathletic producer.  We do.  Averaging 1 extra turnover, 1 extra foul, and 1 extra missed shot a game can turn a really good player into a bad player.  But who notices such small things over the course of a game?  Our gut might say the guy who gets that extra turnover, foul, and missed shot is a really good player because he’s an amazing athlete and gets 1 or 2 great plays a game.  It’s like the Kobe Bryant effect.  Everyone thinks he’s the guy to take game winning shots because we can all close our eyes and picture a game winner (or 5) he’s made.  But the reality is that he’s one of the worst last-second shooters in the game.  Our gut would say give the ball to Kobe, whereas the stats would have said give the ball to Gasol. 

                 

                And this last (long-winded) point brings me back to a broader point I mentioned above.  Josh Smith is a classic example of a player who stat-heavy GMs should avoid and non-stat-heavy GMs should love.  Smith is crazy athletic.  He makes lots of amazing, memorable plays.  Whenever someone describes Smith, they always use the word athletic and potential.  But he doesn’t produce.  He doesn’t.  He almost certainly never will.  If Smith were a young player, I’d think, great.  Maybe we can develop him and that crazy athleticism can be harnessed into a productive player.  But Smith is not young.  

                 

                Regarding not blaming Smith for our losing.  To some extent, I agree with you.  I’d honestly feel the exact same way about Smith if we had not lost a game since he came here.  It’s a long season, and you can’t judge a team based on a few games.  And as terrible as Smith has been, there’s only so much damage one player can do to a team.  That being said, over the course of a long season, his presence will take a toll, and we will lose games (maybe a lot of games, depending on how much he plays) because we have him in there as opposed to a productive player. 

                 

                Thank you for your comments.

                 

                MrLobble, I think that is the only way to possible give Morey an out in this.  But, as I noted above, Smith would have to be one of the greatest defensive players in the league to make up for his historically terrible offense.  Also, at this point, we need more offense, not more defense.  We have more than enough elite defensive players.  We need guys who can efficiently score. 

                 

                Alituro, I take your point that, “If IMWT, then IMWT to the end . . . .”  But I also think there must be a breaking point, and I think this move, for the reasons I’ve given, brings me to that breaking point.  It also makes me wonder now how much of Morey’s moves have been luck, as opposed to skill.  Again, maybe I’m the one who is insanely wrong on this one.  But it reminds me of the story about the million people who are in a giant “flip a coin” tournament.  It’s a single-round elimination tournament, where one player must guess whether the flipped coin is heads or tails.  At the end of the tournament, the champion, who at this point will have won thousands of one-on-one games, declares that he’s the best coin-flip guesser of all time.  Is that Morey? 

                 

                Losthief, I don’t think plus/minus is a relevant statics.  It’s noisy.  And it’s certainly says nothing over a short period of time.  

                 

                Thank you for your responses.  


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                #13 Doug

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                  Posted 07 January 2015 - 05:07 PM

                  One small point.  Again, I could be wrong, but it seems to me that James Harden has had enough of Smith as well.  There's bad body language with him and Smith, and my eye tells me that he's passing to Smith less, even when Smith is open.  I'm curious if anyone else has noticed that too.    


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                  #14 Mario Peña

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                  Posted 07 January 2015 - 06:17 PM

                  You seem mostly to be going on your gut feelings Doug and good for you that's part of the fun. My best advice to you is to just give this time. Player experimentation takes time as we have seen with the Asik/Howard combo, integrating Beverley, the ups and downs of Jones, the Lin benching and countless other tweaks and adjustments that have taken place the last couple of years. 

                   

                   

                  Now saying that I'd say the whole end of Moreyball seems a touch dramatic for my tastes. To me Smith looks good when he is used properly. He still has bad habits that may take 20 or 30 games to break free from but I am certain the coaches are preaching something like this to him: "run, jump, and pass, run, jump, and pass, run, jump, and pass..." The game versus Memphis can't really be considered as the norm as Howard was in foul trouble and Joerger had no tape on a Rockets with Smith. The games where he started, though he had moments, were also too early for that level of integration considering where he is at. I like him as a reserve that takes the court with either Harden or Howard and other reserves. Look the drama surrounding Smith coming to Houston was overblown and increased expectations to a ridiculous level. A player with that current level of production on a losing team shouldn't have been a huge deal realistically. Honestly I think he is the 8th or 9th best player within the system and could shore up some toughness on the frontline versus Western contenders. Howard needs to be flanked by someone who plays with some toughness (versus Aldridge, Griffin/Jordan, San Antonio, Ibaka/Adams) and Jones definitely wasn't that guy.


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                  How sweet it is!

                  #15 cointurtlemoose

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                    Posted 07 January 2015 - 06:42 PM

                    Doug, I had the same exact reservations as you as soon as the Pistons waived him. I thought, "Morey, don't dooooo iiitttt!!!". I still have those reservations, as I agree with you, Smith's offensive track record is 10 years long, and the majority of it is discouraging.

                     

                    All that said, I eventually got on board with the signing. Not only was it low/no cost, but if Morey is not getting what he wants to see, based on his track record, he'll have no problem letting Smith go again. So, if Smith doesn't end up accommodating well, I really don't believe Morey will be any more patient with him than is merited.

                     

                    Lastly, it looks like Smith is trying. Like, you can see him thinking out there. Albeit, too often over these last 2-3 games it's seemed like over-thinking and it leads to some weirdo turnovers or decisions. But I've seen a lot of his play recently as over-thinking, and over-thinking includes thinking in the first place. So to me, it seems like he's trying to adapt, trying to find his role and incorporate the guidance/restrictions that I'm sure he's getting from McHale/Morey/etc. Those 3s in the 4q pissed me off, and the turnovers are annoying, but it seems clear that we're not getting a copy/paste version of Smith from Detroit.

                     

                    He may just need more time/direction. It may be a wonky fit, or a good fit, or an acceptable fit in the end. But again, while, like you, I find it hard to understand Morey's motivation for bringing him, I definitely don't think Morey will beat around the bush if Smith just isn't working out.


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                    #16 Losthief

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                    Posted 07 January 2015 - 08:57 PM

                    Losthief, I don’t think plus/minus is a relevant statics.  It’s noisy.  And it’s certainly says nothing over a short period of time.  

                     

                    Thank you for your responses.  

                     

                    I wholeheartedly agree on +/- in most cases. And really this case is the only case I think it is useful at all. My point being comparing two players at the same position on the same team (dmo versus smith for this discussion). What the +/- showed me is that although they are net similar effects over the time period Dmo was the much more consistent producer with a lower variance, while Josh Smith was the way way more up and down. The only thing this tells me is a) Smith and the team are getting used to each other, b ) Smith is effective in certain matchups, and c) Dmo is more effective in certain matchups. Again nothing startlingly new as we all knew that I just pointed out the stats

                     

                    I posted the other guys +/- soley for the reason that (outside of ariza/terry which are just small sample weirdness i agree) that Josh was not being bouyed by enormous production by dwight/harden having gigantic plus/minus dragging Smith's (or Dmo's) up. That's all, not saying Harden/Howard/Bev are not better than smith which I think we all agree that they are. I agree with Mario that I see him as somewhere between the 6th and 8th (in the rotation but not a focal point) player on the team.

                     

                    if you want more detail on/off stats:

                    Query Results
                    Age is Years-Days

                      Poss Net (Totals) Rk Player Age Date Tm   Opp   MP Tm Opp Pace FG FGA FG% 3P 3PA 3P% eFG% FT FTA FT% PTS 1 Josh Smith 29-029 2015-01-03 HOU   MIA W 28.0 54 53 91.7 +9 +6 +.132 +6 +5 +.290 +.189 +3 -3 +.317 +27 2 Josh Smith 29-026 2014-12-31 HOU   CHO W 27.5 55 55 96.0 +7 +9 +.070 +11 +18 +.423 +.176 -10 -11 -.157 +15 3 Josh Smith 29-021 2014-12-26 HOU @ MEM W 31.7 62 61 93.2 +7 +4 +.093 +1 +6 -.040 +.098 -2 -3 +.032 +13 4 Josh Smith 29-028 2015-01-02 HOU @ NOP L 17.6 34 32 90.0 -3 -5 -.029 0 +1 -.024 -0.025 -3 -3 -.214 -9 5 Josh Smith 29-023 2014-12-28 HOU @ SAS L 25.6 52 51 96.6 -2 -2 -.026 -2 +4 -.257 -0.048 -4 -2 -.217 -10 6 Josh Smith 29-031 2015-01-05 HOU @ CHI L 25.6 54 54 101.1 -3 +12 -.186 0 +7 -.165 -0.197 -15 -16 -.150 -21

                     

                    (dang charts never stay formatted; here's the link: http://www.basketbal...er_by=diff_pts)

                     

                    So when Josh plays well we shoot better (efg pecentage, 3s, 2s, et al) and when he playing bad we don't as a team. What this tells me in a small sample size is that hopefully....we just not hitting our threes right now with Josh on the court in his bad games. How much of that is him and how much of that is us missing open shots. Based on me watching outside the chicago game its mostly our 3pt shooters missing. chicago it was him...

                     

                    Also a good sign that I hopes continues/strengthens is that he played more minutes in the games he did well and less in the games he did badly. Which seems obvious but is good to see Mchale doing.


                    Edited by Losthief, 07 January 2015 - 08:59 PM.

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                    #17 thejohnnygold

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                    Posted 07 January 2015 - 10:29 PM

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                    thejohnnygold, I don’t agree it that it matters who ends the game, not who starts it.  It matters who gets playing time.  Whether Smith plays the first 25 or the last 25 minutes of the game is really irrelevant.  I know we remember the end of the game more than the beginning, but points scored and allowed count just as much at the beginning as at the end. 

                     

                    Regarding Morey figure it out.  I disagree.  I disagree because there’s nothing to figure out here.  It’s simple in this case.  Smith is a horrific shooter, and he takes lots of terrible shots.  That’s his problem.  It’s not like with a lot of young players where you hope they improve this or that.  With Smith, we all know why he’s terrible.  And there’s a very, very simple solution to this problem: Smith needs to stop shooting those terrible shots.  But he doesn’t.  He has taken those shots for years now.  Why would he stop taking them now?  Really, why? 

                     

                    Regarding Smith bringing a lot to the table otherwise.  Again, I disagree.  He’s a decent shot blocker (but not someone you fear driving against), and he gets some steals.  But he’s a turnover machine.  I grant you that he won’t continue to turn the ball over at the historically bad rate he has been at with the Rockets.  Small sample size, new team, etc.  But over the course of his career he has always been turnover prone.  That really negates some of the added possessions he gets on the defensive end.  And what else does he do well?  Really?  His rebounded often gets discussed, but he’s an average rebounder.  (He’s no Black, for instance.)  He's an above-average passer, I grant you that.  Is it possible that his individual defense makes up for some of his box score deficiencies?  Sure.  By my eye test, he looks lazy on defense and has missed a huge number of assignments.  But maybe that’s just my eye deceiving me and his getting used to a new system.  Setting that aside, he would have to be an incredibly elite one on one defender to make up for his horrific shooting and his otherwise mediocre stats.  I don’t even think it would be possible to be so good at one on one defense in the NBA to make up for his otherwise terrible play.  And, even if he were elite, that would make him an average player in the NBA.  He simply can’t be good or great because of his horrible shooting and turnovers. So, really, we're talking best case scenario of maybe a slightly above average player?  

                     

                    Regarding gut feeling.  Gut feelings are simply prejudices wrapped in superstition.  If the numbers don’t back it up, they don’t back it up.  Your example of Beverly is a good example.  The numbers can’t explain why Beverly out rebounds someone bigger than him.  That’s his skill, effort, etc.  And the numbers can’t evaluate his hustle and determination.  But the numbers can measure how many rebounds he gets a game.  And that’s the important number.  I don’t care how much heart or desire Beverly has.  I care about his ability to get rebounds.  And if he tried super hard, and cared more than anyone, but still didn’t get rebounds, who cares?  And if he didn’t care at all, but still led all guards in rebounds, I wouldn’t complain. 

                     

                    Often time “gut feelings” are nothing more than our attempts to justify our own false perceptions.  When we all watch games, we notice crazy athletes more than the quiet, unathletic producer.  We do.  Averaging 1 extra turnover, 1 extra foul, and 1 extra missed shot a game can turn a really good player into a bad player.  But who notices such small things over the course of a game?  Our gut might say the guy who gets that extra turnover, foul, and missed shot is a really good player because he’s an amazing athlete and gets 1 or 2 great plays a game.  It’s like the Kobe Bryant effect.  Everyone thinks he’s the guy to take game winning shots because we can all close our eyes and picture a game winner (or 5) he’s made.  But the reality is that he’s one of the worst last-second shooters in the game.  Our gut would say give the ball to Kobe, whereas the stats would have said give the ball to Gasol. 

                     

                    And this last (long-winded) point brings me back to a broader point I mentioned above.  Josh Smith is a classic example of a player who stat-heavy GMs should avoid and non-stat-heavy GMs should love.  Smith is crazy athletic.  He makes lots of amazing, memorable plays.  Whenever someone describes Smith, they always use the word athletic and potential.  But he doesn’t produce.  He doesn’t.  He almost certainly never will.  If Smith were a young player, I’d think, great.  Maybe we can develop him and that crazy athleticism can be harnessed into a productive player.  But Smith is not young.  

                     

                    Regarding not blaming Smith for our losing.  To some extent, I agree with you.  I’d honestly feel the exact same way about Smith if we had not lost a game since he came here.  It’s a long season, and you can’t judge a team based on a few games.  And as terrible as Smith has been, there’s only so much damage one player can do to a team.  That being said, over the course of a long season, his presence will take a toll, and we will lose games (maybe a lot of games, depending on how much he plays) because we have him in there as opposed to a productive player. 

                     

                    Thank you for your comments.

                     

                    MrLobble, I think that is the only way to possible give Morey an out in this.  But, as I noted above, Smith would have to be one of the greatest defensive players in the league to make up for his historically terrible offense.  Also, at this point, we need more offense, not more defense.  We have more than enough elite defensive players.  We need guys who can efficiently score. 

                     

                    Alituro, I take your point that, “If IMWT, then IMWT to the end . . . .”  But I also think there must be a breaking point, and I think this move, for the reasons I’ve given, brings me to that breaking point.  It also makes me wonder now how much of Morey’s moves have been luck, as opposed to skill.  Again, maybe I’m the one who is insanely wrong on this one.  But it reminds me of the story about the million people who are in a giant “flip a coin” tournament.  It’s a single-round elimination tournament, where one player must guess whether the flipped coin is heads or tails.  At the end of the tournament, the champion, who at this point will have won thousands of one-on-one games, declares that he’s the best coin-flip guesser of all time.  Is that Morey? 

                     

                    Losthief, I don’t think plus/minus is a relevant statics.  It’s noisy.  And it’s certainly says nothing over a short period of time.  

                     

                    Thank you for your responses.  

                     

                    If you're not careful, people are going to mistake your long posts for one of mine  :lol:

                     

                    I'll try to briefly respond, but we all know how that goes.

                     

                    The end of game vs. starting thing was a direct quote from McHale.  It doesn't really matter my thoughts on it nor yours--that is our coach's take.  I seriously doubt that Smith jacking that three at the very beginning of the possession was part of the plan.  The line-up was Bev, Harden, Ariza, Smith, and Howard.  I am pretty sure the idea was lock them down on defense and let Harden do his thing.  Seems like a pretty good plan.  Unfortunately, it didn't work at all, but I agree that we need to give them time to work this out.  Smith will get the message that Clutch time is Harden time not jack-a-three-after-just-making-one-heat-check-time.  The coaches will set him straight.  Go check out the shot chart at ESPN.  You can filter it down to just Smith's shots and by quarter.  The 2nd and third quarters were pretty solid for what we are looking for.  The fourth quarter...not so much.  One of those missed 3's was with 15 seconds left and the game already out of reach.

                     

                    Morey has had his eye on Smith for years.  I just can't rationalize his inability to see that "Smith sucks" while he hits home run after home run with nearly every personnel move he makes.  That doesn't mean it will work out--sometimes you don't know how things will mesh until you put them together.

                     

                    Morey has always preached variance.  As previous posters have noted, Smith epitomizes this characteristic.  Any given game he could drop 30 pts, 17 rebounds, 8 assists, 3 steals, and 3 blocks.....or 8 points, 6 rebounds, 2 assists, 1 block, 1 steal, and 6 turnovers.  To issue a blanket statement like yours ignores Smith's ability to absolutely dominate a game.  The last time he played the majority of his minutes at PF (as he will do here) was in ATL in the '12-'13 season.  You can go to basketball-reference.com and see his game logs from that year.  They are sortable as well.  What you can see is he posts some ridiculous games and he posts some head scratchers.  Now, in trying to find a correlation to the team's overall success I sorted every stat column and the only one that truly distinguished itself was his rebounding.  When Smith rebounds well  (11+ rpg) the Hawks were 19-3.  Many of those games included lots of off. rebounds.  Morey loves offensive rebounding.

                     

                    Go back and look at those game logs.  That season, Smith averaged roughly 18 pts, 8 rebs, 4 assists, 1 steal, 2 blks, and 3 to's per game while shooting 46% overall and 30% from deep.  With a guy like Smith that simply does not tell the whole story.  His variance is probably in the top 10 in the NBA.  (this is part of why he was not a good fit in Detroit.  Brandon Jennings is a high variance guy.  You can really only have one of them per team.)

                     

                    As for him being a turnover machine.  His TOV% is in line with Harden's and for most seasons is lower.  He generally has a very high usg% and has been leaned on to be a creator for his teams.  Turnovers happen.  Most of his turnovers in Houston have been from passes that either went to players who weren't there or to players who weren't ready.  That's chemistry.  It will improve.

                     

                    The bottom line is it is fairly easy to read between the lines here.  While you are admirably carrying on a discussion about Smith with us, your mind is made up already and there is nothing that will change that except for Smith to completely stop taking shots outside of 10 ft.

                     

                    As for gut feelings being "simply prejudices wrapped in superstition"....you are welcome to see things that way.  I would call them instincts.  Some people have strong ones, others don't.  Some people are great with people, others aren't.  Some people are masters of math and others the written word.  There are yin and yangs for all types and the case is true here as well.  What I've learned is just because I don't experience something doesn't mean it isn't true for another nor that it doesn't exist in the world.

                     

                    You vehemently claim that Smith doesn't produce--"He doesn't".  If you look at him through a macro-lens I can see how you feel that way.  If you look at him through the narrow scope of amalgamated offensive efficiency--I can see how you feel that way.  He's not James Harden.  Josh has had to be "the man" for the last 3-4 years on his respective teams.  It's going to take time for him to adjust to his new role.  He can and he will--give it time.  The last time he really had the luxury of playing with a full compliment of talent was '09-'10.  His usg% was lower and his production (and efficiency) were higher.  He also shot a total of 7 3's that season--it can be done....it will be done.

                     

                    That year he had a PER of 21.0, he shot 50% from the field.  He averaged roughly 16 pts, 9 rebs, 4 asts, 2 stl, 2 blk, and 2 to per game.  Now, that was many years ago.  We likely won't get that guy.  I just disagree with these blanket statements and assertions.

                     

                    Also, the Josh Smith signing still ranks lower than the Royce White draft pick on Morey's list of questionable moves.  Some would also add drafting Marcus Morris over Kawhi Leonard.  Heck, some would add hiring McHale...and re-signing him this year.  :lol:


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                    #18 Cooper

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                      Posted 07 January 2015 - 11:22 PM

                      Tariq black seems like a good guy and he clearly worked hard but smith even when he's playing "poorly" brings more to the game so even if smith ends up getting benched for jones when he comes back its hard to call it a bad move. We lost a couple of the last few games because they were against quality teams. If we drop three out of the next four against the sinking cavs and .500 or worse teams then you can start the josh smith is a team wrecker or whatever argument you want to make. 


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                      #19 redfaithful

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                      Posted 08 January 2015 - 07:32 AM

                      Smith had a team-high +21 against the Cavs last night, with Brewer close behind with +16. Take it wherever you want...


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                      #20 rocketrick

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                        Posted 08 January 2015 - 02:13 PM

                        Tariq black seems like a good guy and he clearly worked hard but smith even when he's playing "poorly" brings more to the game so even if smith ends up getting benched for jones when he comes back its hard to call it a bad move. We lost a couple of the last few games because they were against quality teams. If we drop three out of the next four against the sinking cavs and .500 or worse teams then you can start the josh smith is a team wrecker or whatever argument you want to make.


                        It's actually Tarik with a K, not a c at the end of his name.

                        And yes, I agree with Cooper that although I don't know a single Rockets fan that was opposed to Tarik's valiant efforts while on the Rockets roster, that Josh Smith is clearly, unequivocally the better athlete and the better fit for this particular roster going forward.
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