Rockets Daily: Thursday, September 30th, 2010

  • As all of the other cool kids get to do it, it only seems fair that the Houston Rockets has its own dissatisfied young star on the roster. Aaron Brooks wants to at least be talking about a contract extension, discussions that didn’t start until yesterday. Suddenly at the end of September, the summer of LeBron has decided to come to the Rockets instead of the inverse, an idea mostly validated by the name of Brooks’ agent: Leon Rose. Yes, the man who represents LeBron, Chris Paul and Melo and seems attached at the hip to William Wesley sat down with our vaunted leader Daryl Morey to attempt to begin the process of working out a deal that better represents the kind of contributions Brooks has made to the team over the last couple of years. While it would be unseemly for the Rockets to replace Brooks in the starting lineup with the seemingly better fit of Kyle Lowry, thanks to that aforementioned production by Brooks, not handing Brooks an outrageous, market-value contract would be perfectly germane when mindful of the Rockets’ signing Lowry to a long-term deal this offseason. Though Brooks deserves to not be slid down into the combo guard role in which he’d be better suited, he, nor any player of his caliber, does not need that deal right now. Jamal Crawford is currently angling similarly for an extension with the Atlanta Hawks, and I don’t foresee any situation in which Morey finds himself caving to a player before the Hawks.
  • LeBron James, king of saying the right thing at the right time this summer, finds himself embroiled in maybe his most divisive claim yet, that part of the backlash surrounding his summer (and at this point, we can just call this “his summer”) involved racial prejudice. As Bethlehem Shoals pointed out, it’s a step in a very risky direction for a man who was once a boy intent on being the world’s first athlete/billionaire (before Tiger beat him to it thanks to company-comped Buicks and one-night stays at Motel 6). Only, it’s not. He was prompted to talk about race, and he gave a stilted, controversial-in-its-pith response that will only outrage those already sitting on the edge of their seats waiting to be outraged. It’s sad that he and Maverick Carter decided not to delve deeper, as race has lingered around his hatefest this offseason, rendered inactive thanks to the permanent foot found in the King’s mouth. It would have been nice for him to remove it just this once to talk about something of actual substance.
  • Chuck Hayes may not be very tall for an NBA player, but he looked conspicuously short last year while constantly trying to prevent the Dwight Howards and Andrew Boguts of the world from just waltzing their seven-foot frames to the rim. We should all be thankful that we get back defensive-stopper and power forward Chuck Hayes. The Houston Chronicle‘s Jonathan Feigen spoke to the tree stump of a post defender about his new, old role: ”‘I’m a natural four,” he said. “I think I’ve been a four since I picked up a ball. It comes naturally to me. The center is a position I can play, but the four spot is my niche.’ Like a point guard who brought the ball up the floor from his first pick-up game, Hayes never thought of himself as anything but a power forward. But he said there were benefits to a season spent battling centers from Dwight Howard to Shaquille O’Neal. ’It lets me know I can guard anybody,’ Hayes said. ‘It gave me a season-long opportunity to learn how to finish over bigger guys. Now, I not only have the fours scouted but also the fives.’”
  • While the rest of the Eastern Conference came back with rosters full of people needing to find new houses, the Orlando Magic essentially sat on its hands this summer (“his summer”). In fact, it’s biggest acquisition may have been a midrange jumper for one guy who didn’t exactly need help getting better, Dwight Howard. Unfortunately for the rest of the world, he did get help: he claims his time spent with Hakeem Olajuwon has given him a new confidence in his abilities. Rockets fans probably wish their all-time franchise player wasn’t so magnanimous with his knowledge right about now: “As all of Central Florida knows by now, Howard spent several days in June working out with Hakeem Olajuwon. The former Houston Rockets great showed Howard some moves. But Howard has said that the biggest takeaway might have been Olajuwon’s suggestion that Howard not be afraid to try new things during the regular season. And Howard insisted on Tuesday that he won’t be timid about trying more jumpers — at least in practice. ’I’ve just got to keep shooting,’ Howard said. ‘That’s the only way you’re going to get comfortable: just keep trying things. The more you try, the better you’ll get at it. I’m not worried about that.’”
  • Houston may have the great problem of choosing who fills out its roster based on the players’ training camp quality as opposed to need, but those decisions will have to be made. Jonathan Feigen reports again on exactly what guys like Ish Smith and Alexander Johnson are doing to try and wear red this year: “The mention of the play of a third point guard and third center did lead to the question of need. Would the Rockets be better off with a third point guard or extra center? The question will change, of course. The decision will come down to the play of the players competing for the roster spot, rather than the positions they play. But until then, it does bring up something to at least consider… In the end, the decision will be about the player, rather than the position. The best idea is to keep the guy who eventually becomes the best player. That could be Antonio Anderson or Mike Harris. Since the 15th guy is not likely to play or make much of a bottom-line difference on the season, the spot might be best used to keep and develop someone for later.”
  • Is Minnesota’s front office dealing with a batch of nasty absinthe habits or something? Kurt Rambis apparently isn’t sure if stud rebounder Kevin Love will start this year thanks to the presence of unproven, slightly/seriously-off-in-the-brain young talent Michael Beasley. A Wolf Among Wolves‘ Myles Brown gets some great media day quotes from the two power forwards vying for that starter role before David Kahn decides he needs 44 point guards, 12 pieces of chocolate and one charming Spanish boy in return for one of them.
  • Yes, it’s all part of a marketing ploy. Yes, the same guys won as last year  while the vast majority of the teams have no chance in hell. But Converse’s Band of Ballers basketball tournament between musicians like Jim Jones, of Montreal, Jermaine Dupri, OJ Da Juiceman, the Black Lips and plenty of others makes me smile so much. It’ll probably do the same for you.

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