Rockets Daily: Friday, September 24th, 2010

  • Houston Rockets fans seem rather hesitant to part with last year’s premier acquisition, Kevin Martin, in order to replace him with another guy who takes a ton of shots, Carmelo Anthony. Those fans can thank Denver, then, because it seems that the Nuggets have no interest in taking back a contract like Martin’s for a perimeter player in a trade for its superstar; no, in an entirely spurious turn of events, the jumbled mess of a team from Denver would rather get its hands on 30-year-old, newly resigned (for five years!) Luis Scola, an asset the Rockets probably didn’t even think could be offered in this deal. While the potential of the Rockets’ 2011 and 2012 draft picks (mostly acquired from the New York Knicks in the deal that brought Martin and shipped out a dumpy man purporting himself to be Tracy McGrady) seems to be the primary attraction to Houston, Denver may have watched those World Championships and been sold on a big man who could basically get whatever he wanted for five games, only stopped when a defense solely tried to contain him. If that’s the case, then Morey’s reputed “video game god” may get to fill his biggest role for the Rockets yet: collateral for buying a savior.
  • UPDATE, 9/24/10 1:11 P.M.: It looks like Rockets fans can get comfortable with the roster as it is, as the proposed deal being bandied about as if it were already done today involves Anthony heading to New Jersey in a four-team-trade that makes this offseason so much crazier than it’s already been, if that is even a remote possibility. It would also send the number three pick in this year’s draft, Derrick Favors, and the Jazz’s Andrei Kirilenko to Denver, along with former All-Star Devin Harris going to Charlotte and the chubby, do-it-all-but-slowly Frenchman Boris Diaw to Utah (Denver would also scoop up some first-round picks). I’m not entirely sure how much better New Jersey believes this will make it, but if it’s true, it seems like a move meant to salvage what was probably the most lost summer of all of those in the LeBron Chase. It also seems like a move that will leave New Jersey very solid (and nothing more) for a very long time. Charlotte got its point guard while Utah loses Kirilenko’s contract, making those two teams the clear winners of this deal for the moment. I guess Rockets fans may be disheartened by this, but the likelihood of this deal dwindled weeks ago. Recent talks looked like Houston was grabbing for straws (if you don’t believe me, read the bullet above this), but this does look like the last available superstar for a while, a fact that seems depressing for fans hoping this season would be the Rockets’ next chance at the impossible. To that, I can only agree and hope (for Chris Paul to become a lot more petulant).
  • Don Nelson is a crazy man. Anyone following basketball in the last 30 years is probably aware of that fact, but thanks to a (comparatively) good resume and a huge contract, it took the Golden State Warriors until last night to finally lose the drunken genius and replace him with his assistant, Keith Smart (already experienced in coaching pro ball thanks to Nelson’s midseason, Crawford, TX-like sabbaticals). Avoiding any jokes about a potential “Smart to replace Nelson as head coach” headline (though, by putting that there, I basically made the joke. High five for reader manipulation!), the move seems to make absolute basketball sense, particularly with the literal new look (fresh duds, cool rich guys, big city ballers and one cold Asian-American) the Warriors are trying to promote. Smart also seems to be both competent and well regarded, including by Nellie, which may not sound like a worthwhile endorsement despite his love for Avery Johnson before Nelson left Dallas. Overall, it seems to be the right (if the late) move for the Bay, but if this will be Nelson’s last stand, he should be lauded and placed upon our proverbial shoulders for the years of insanity and spontaneity released into this league. He made 7-footers (plus some) shoot tons of threes, goaded other teams into his style of organized chaos nightly and took a sledgehammer to convention, whether it be position, play calling or in-game sobriety, every time he took to an NBA court with his turtleneck and ill-fitting blazer. Don Nelson, we salute you. But don’t come back and try and get that record. Take that 36-pack of Natty Light and ride off into the ample Californian sunset, cracking jokes with Mitch Richmond and Mark Cuban, like I like to imagine you.
  • Can a team win the title when its best go-to guy (whatever that means) ranks only 26th in the league? Ask Dime Magazine, which just ranked Yao Ming at that exact position in a league-wide ranking of “go-to” players. This “Who’ll take the last shot?” offseason conjecture can grow tiresome, but this offseason and its news of minute limitations have furthered the notion that Yao is unreliable: “Now T-Mac is gone, replaced on the wing by productive scorer Kevin Martin, and the Rockets also have emerging Aaron Brooks and underrated Luis Scola as go-to options. But Yao is going to be the headliner. Having a 7-footer (better yet, 7-foot-5) (sic) who can score and hit his free throws under pressure is like having a Golden Ticket at any level of basketball. The only problem is that Houston can’t depend on their ticket to get them in the door when they need him most.”
  • Rick Adelman doesn’t want to hear any of the excuses he did last year about team uncertainty causing on-court troubles, as he explicitly laid out to Jonathan Feigen yesterday. Adelman thinks these guys are professionals and, as such, should always be ready to play their hardest for the team on which they currently find themselves (Quentin Richardson and his pile of luggage may disagree): “The last thing Adelman would want is to have that hanging over the start of camp, but said there is no reason it should be. ’I don’t think that should be a factor with anybody on this team,’ Adelman said. ‘If there is some major superstar available, there will be stuff out there, names out there. You’ve got to put that aside, go out and play the game. If you help us win, that limits all that talk. That’s the way of our world now. I don’t think that should be a problem. They’ve been in the league long enough.’ ’You’ve got to put that stuff aside.’ ‘We know, if Yao comes along as we hope, we will be a very good team.’”
  • Make sure you read this piece about new Sacramento King Samuel Dalembert and the tremendous work he’s done in his homeland of Haiti. After a summer of  Paul Shirleys and Wyclef Jeans, that country, more desperately than almost any, could use a man trying to work, trying to fix, with no ulterior motive.

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