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Potpourri for August 4, 2014

  • One thing I’ve always found odd is the flurry of questions regarding the medical exception upon injury to a star player.  “How much do they get?”  “What are their options?”  “Will the Pacers land Shawn Marion?”  This is not to point fault at news providers whose job it is to provide such information.  But why do fans even care?  This happened after Yao Ming was ruled out for the season, as well.  Upon news like that, you just pray for the player and start planning for the future.  Short-term contingencies are of little relevance in the grand or even immediate scheme.
  • You have to really feel for the Pacers who, essentially in the span of mere months, lost their three best players with whatever happened to Hibbert, Stephenson’s departure, and now this injury to George.  This time last year, Indiana appeared poised to remain a mainstay in the Eastern Conference over the next half-decade.  Now, it remains to be seen how they’ll even move forward.  And what about the East?  I hope Carmelo Anthony makes good use of the extra money he pocketed by staying in New York, because he would have had a guaranteed path to the Finals for some time had he left to Chicago.  Now, Cleveland looks like it has the inside track.

  • You know how the more time that passes after you’ve been spurned in some situation, the more you start to convince yourself you’re better off?  That’s how I feel now regarding the Parsons-Ariza swap and I’m really beginning to wonder if that’s a product of bargaining or rather, genuinely objective analysis.  Now, to be clear, Houston currently, as things stand, is an inferior team to the one that finished last season, just by virtue of the simple fact of having lost Omer Asik and Jeremy Lin.  But looking at the Ariza-Parsons swap in vacuo of other considerations, I’ve somehow managed to convince myself that Houston ended up with the better player for its team.  I wrote at the end of last season, after one particular loss when Nic Batum and Wes Mathews literally took turns driving into the teeth of the Houston defense, that I was not sure if a Harden-Parsons wing tandem was sustainable long-term.  I think back to that a lot now and wonder.  Age is a wash because Dwight Howard’s prime isn’t too long anyway and Parsons has maxed out his potential regardless.  Ariza is arguably the superior shooter.  The question becomes whether Ariza’s defense adds more to the team than what it will lose in Parson’s playmaking off the pick and roll.  I think it will.
  • I never weighed in on the Parsons-Howard-Harden controversy and maybe it’s too late, but my thoughts: I found the whole thing, particularly Harden’s reaction, extremely peculiar.  To recap, Parsons said he felt disrespected by the Rockets, Howard said Houston wouldn’t really skip a beat, and then Harden one-upped that saying, essentially, only he and Dwight were of relevance, with the other parts being interchangeable.  Now, what Howard and Harden each said was true.  Well, scratch that.  What Harden said was true, maybe not what Howard said.  But in any event, I thought it was really odd that they even said those things because…why?  Why was there even anger directed at all towards Chandler?  It’s not like he bolted.  It’s not like he trashed the team.  He wanted to come back but was told to go seek out an offer.  They can’t fault him for that – he went out and signed the Dallas offer sheet thinking Houston would match, or at the least, knowing that signing an offer sheet was something he had to do.  Moreover, Parsons’ comments were directed towards Houston’s front office, not the team itself.  Dwight Howard maybe, but James Harden does not strike me as a guy who would take offense over someone dragging his general manager through the mud.  Maybe I underestimate Harden.  But that’s how I felt.  So I found the whole thing really odd.  Was there some beef there that we don’t know about?  Probably not because Houston was set to keep Chandler had they gotten Bosh.
  • All that being said, I kind of like it.  Maybe its just wishful thinking, but this is really the first time you’ve sensed ownership from James Harden of not just the team, but of the Harden-Howard pairing.  All along, they’ve seemed to have a very uncomfortable relationship whereby, sure they got along, but it never really seemed like they were the closest of individuals.  You’ve seen the GIF’s of Howard hugging Harden and Harden kind of pushing him away with an annoyed look etc.  And all of that is perfectly fine – you don’t have to be best friends to dominate on the basketball court.  But that bond undoubtedly helps.  This is really the first time he’s even remotely articulately that “Dwight and I are enough” and this is about “Dwight and I.”  That’s important, I think, and sort of exciting.  If they truly embrace each other, they can push each other to greater heights.

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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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