Rockets Daily: Monday, September 27th, 2010

  • This weekend, trade talks swirling around the Houston Rockets got interesting, in the truest sense of that word. At some time on Saturday, the Rockets made public its pursuit of one young Anthony Randolph, a player the Rockets want to the point of helping the New York Knicks get the golden goose that is Carmelo Anthony (remember, that guy the Rockets want?) to get the lanky big man. What exactly would possess Morey to give up on the Melo Sweepstakes to try to pick up this pitiful runner-up prize of a 20-year-old who has never averaged double digits in either of the categories a 7-footer should have done that (if he is supposed to replace Anthony in our collective good graces, at least)? Well, he’s probably watched the kid play. If you haven’t, you’re missing out. Red94 commenters seem less impressed with the gangling third-year-player out of LSU, but despite the physical freakiness of both Stromile Swift and Tyrus Thomas, Randolph is not the prototypical athletic monster out of Baton Rouge. No, his is a game built on surprise, confounding blends of on-court roles and an unimaginably diverse skill set. Comparisons to a young Kevin Garnett and Lamar Odom do not quite encompass exactly how little of those promises he’s fulfilled and how strange it is to actually be more excited about him today than I was two years ago given his abilities. The Golden State Warriors, that stronghold of stability and rigor, drafted the unbelievably raw power forward at the end of the lottery in 2008, and since, he intermittently fell in and out of favor with lunatic/former Warriors coach Don Nelson, facts that have helped diminish his production and gut his confidence. Still, his per 36 numbers consistently look better than those of current Rockets prospect Jordan Hill (18.5 points/10.3 boards/2.5 blocks vs. 14.2/11/1.2 as a Rocket). I hope that seeing Randolph as a Rocket will be the true litmus test of how engaging and marvelous his skills are to any viewer, but for the time being, Randolph and his brand of basketball anarchy are relegated to being that least enviable of prospects: a writer’s muse (for proof, just let Bethelem Shoals sell you). As a Rockets fan and a writer, I hope he will bring all of his enigmas, frustrations and miracles to Houston.
  • With wild-eyed, lucid-dream-like hyperventilating over Randolph comes the inevitable sadness that the end of our Carmelo flirtation brings. Or, maybe not. No, there’s no news leading Rockets fans to think that he’ll be one of their own anytime soon, but he has as much a chance of landing here as he does any place if the rumors are true. The reason for that is that they can’t all be true. This weekend, Anthony sat on a 4-team-deal that sent him to New Jersey, seemingly less than enthused about operating out of Newark for a team on which he’d have to battle to get to .500. The Nuggets, sensing his hesitancy, have used the deal that is “in place” to further leverage the teams involved (the Nets, Bobcats and Jazz) into giving up further assets, to which none of those teams have taken kindly. Denver even offered Anthony for Andre Iguodala in a deal with Philadelphia, which may not care if the superstar signs an extension with the Sixers (management hears ticket sales; I hear midseason booing). Notice the use of “the Nuggets” and “Denver” because no one is really sure who is making decisions for the Nuggets currently with the influx of new personnel brought upon by the offseason from hell. Still, that isn’t even as crazy as the news that agent/power broker/Anthony rep/NBA deity William “Worldwide Wes” Wesley had a sit-down discussion with Nets minority owner Jay-Z in order to better establish a connection to Melo in Jersey (Hov owns a 1.5% stake in that team, yet does half of its PR. C’mon, Mikhail; where’s the love?). Yes, the Carmelo Anthony story has been momentarily hijacked by craziness, enough so that even the fans of the teams about to get him just want it all to end. I’m sure Rockets fans would willingly join the circus if asked; well, hold on tight in that case. The fans might be back on before they know it. UPDATE 9/27/10 11:05 P.M.: Oh yeah, “the Nuggets” have also contacted the Warriors about Stephon Curry in return for a year of Anthony. Um, yeah. I heard the Globetrotters are strongly considering giving up Meadowlark Lemon and a bucket of confetti for Melo, but that’s only if an extension’s already in place.
  • In only slightly less ridiculous news, the Miami Heat declined to offer a contract to Erick Dampier. As Dampier seemed perfectly suited to the Heat’s needs with his ability to defend in the post and willingness to never, ever touch the ball, it seems that there could only be a couple of reasons for this almost-preordained turn of events going sour. One could be that Riley isn’t the mastermind we all think he is, a notion that seems as unlikely as it ever has. The other is simply that Dampier did not look very good in his workout with the team and may not be quite ready to contribute in the way with which we are familiar. The latter, probable option could cause major strife for a Rockets team looking for center depth that just missed out on, if that is the right parlance for this type of player, Kyle Fesenko.
  • This may be old hat, but Shane Battier was named one of the 20 smartest athletes in a recent issue of The Sporting News. I’d be inclined to agree with that assessment, as well as this small piece of “we always knew” information from Battier’s college coach and general UFO guru Mike Krzyzewski: “’Shane was an alien. I wanted at the end of his career to crack his head open and see if he was really human,’ Blue Devil head basketball coach Mike Krzyzewski said of the two-time All-NBA defensive second team selection. ‘When the storm hits, you want him [Shane] to be the captain of your ship. I love Shane. I’d want him on any team that I ever coach.’”
  • Guess who doesn’t really care that Carmelo Anthony has brought a world of cynicism to Denver? George Karl. He has much bigger issues with which to deal. Guess who deserves to be at the helm of a team who could really contend this year? You guessed it.
  • According to Jonathan Feigen, the Rockets will be doing a lot of tinkering with the lineup given the increase in depth this offseason, hopeful that a decrease in minutes for the huge man, Miller, Scola and Battier will lead to productive, healthy turns from all four this year. Battier even thinks it might lead them to do Spurs/Celtics-like things for the postseason: “The workload seemed to take a toll on Battier and Hayes last season, with both battling knee problems late in the season and Battier sitting out the final 15 games. Limiting minutes was not an option for the Rockets last season, but that, Battier said, does help the top teams. ‘It’s been my experience that when you’re smarter about minutes in October, November and December, it does pay off down the stretch run,’ Battier said. ‘You see with the teams that have championship aspirations, they play it that way. Last year, we didn’t have that luxury. We had to play as hard as we could as long as we could. It’s a little bit different this year.’”
  • Ready for that first game tipoff between the recovering giants Yao Ming and Andrew Bynum? Don’t be. Bynum will likely start his season some time toward the end of November, a fact made possible because Bynum postponed his surgery so that he could go see the World Cup. While that may be one of the least responsible things I’ve heard of an NBA player doing, it’s also one of the more awesome.
  • The Phoenix Suns made a trade this offseason for the most conditioned man in the league, Hedo Turkoglu, to help replace Amar’e Stoudemire’s production (stifle laughter here). Though he had an abysmal showing for his native country of Turkey in the World Championships last month, Turk seems dedicated to being a Phoenix Sun. Though he wasn’t particularly productive, he did thrive as part of a true cohesive unit in Orlando, a camaraderie Turk seemed to crave in Phoenix: “Hedo Turkoglu looks happy. Really happy, revealing nothing that resembles the disengaged expression television cameras would catch on the Toronto Raptors bench last season. ’I told my agent, ‘Make this happen,” he said Friday about the July trade to the Suns. ”I don’t care how much I have to give up, how much money it will cost me. I’m open to anything they want me to be. I want to be one of them.””
  • Do you think Kevin Durant is awesome? So do I. Read this and bask further in his “That seems like a really cool dude”-iness.

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NY Daily News: Rockets considering helping Knicks land ‘Melo?
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