Rockets Daily: Tuesday, September 28th, 2010

  • Ah, media day. Nothingness can be news, and people can lie without reprimand, gleefully avoiding what we all know we want to talk about. First and foremost on the media carousel? Who other than Carmelo Anthony, lauded and hated by all. While his name’s current ubiquity has and will inevitably draw Decision comparisons, Anthony found the time to visit Denver for a little powwow with the media, just catching up on summer vacations and the like? Oh, and that whole trade demand? He never said that, according to him, though as J.A. Adande of ESPN quickly pointed out, he never once made any attempt to say he didn’t want to be traded. This has gotten certifiably batty; these two parties seems to be headed toward a season of hypotheticals and rumors, but the Nuggets seem very willing to continue playing this game of chicken, praying Anthony wants that extension money so badly he’ll suck it up and dip himself in powder blue for a few more years to get it. Nuggets GM Masai Ujiri and coach George Karl both responded to rampant trade rumors with Alfred E. Neuman-style incredulity, as privately the Nuggets desperately try and find the one missing piece that will keep the Vasquez-Anthony family smiling (Rip Hamilton? There’s got to be a lot of forehead smacking going on in Denver over that). I can only wish good luck to a team for which its best hope of retaining its superstar is Kobe Bryant telling him to wait a second.
  • Dear reader, do you have any idea how long this summer’s been? So long that this summer’s original preening media-whore of a superstar, LeBron James, and his cohorts have earned themselves a bit of goodwill. In Miami, at least. The Miami Herald‘s Israel Gutierrez writes about the kind of sacrifices, both on the court and financially, that the unholy Triumvirate was willing to make, allowing truly useful role players like longtime Heat Udonis Haslem to feel welcome back into the frenzy. Even The New York Times got in on the NBA-Finals-esque media hubbub, making the Heat’s core seem less sinister as some even acknowledged the semi-confounding amalgamation of hatred that has coalesced around American Airlines Arena (Bron mentioned the Durant dichotomy himself, saying, “All this hero-villain mess, it’s bizarre.”). Hell, it even seems like Cleveland’s not that mad anymore. OK, so maybe that last part isn’t exactly factual.
  • Oh, the Rockets? Um, the team had a very nice, optimistic media day. Not much to see here. Well, except that the really huge guy that used to be around all of the time is back. Jason Friedman writes about exactly what Yao’s simple presence means for a team that searched endlessly for an identity last year: “Every player and coach who took their place at the press conference podium fielded questions about the big fella and what it will mean to have the 7-time All-Star back on the floor… ‘Having Yao back is just going to be tremendous for us,’ said Martin. ‘We all know that. I’ve never seen a No. 1 pick with all the hype and All-Star starts who works as hard as him. But it’s not all on Yao’s shoulders. There are other guys on this team who are proven players in this league, so we have to work as a team. Not everything is going to be on Yao. When we need him the most is going to be next April, May and June. He’s going to be fine and we’re going to be fine. We’re going to make this work as a whole – it’s not just on one or two players’ shoulders.”
  • The NBA finally got what it wanted: a bland Gilbert Arenas. Yes, what he did last year could be at best called juvenile and at worst indicative of the kind of immaturity that will never allow him to be anything more than a sideshow. Still, did we want this? A castrated (admittedly, nicely bearded) version of our beloved Agent Zero, one of basketball’s last great weirdos? If his game finds a way to blend with the paradigm shift that is John Wall, this may all blow over as Gil glides into the role of the trusted veteran. But we’ll always remember his crazy blogs, nonsensical nicknames and perfect blend of vengeance and aloofness, and we’ll fret over what we did to something so great.
  • Houston has been known in recent years as a team both willing to and capable of taking a charge. In fact, the team led then league in drawing offensive fouls last year, with new addition Jared Jeffries being the best guy at falling down when hit in the league. Once again, Jason Friedman wonders if such necessity-driven small-ball defense will last into this year: “It’s also a case study in knowing one’s own strengths and weaknesses. If you’re Dwight Howard, no question, you need to be leaping tall buildings in a single bound and attempting to swat as many shots as possible (though try keeping more of them in play, please). If you’re Shane Battier, a player actually gifted in both disciplines (Battier has averaged exactly one blocked shot per game during his 9 years in the league), then you rely on your skill, savvy and split-second decision making when determining whether a block or charge is the better play. And for the ground-bound, like Luis Scola, drawing a charge can be the great equalizer. ’I’m not a good shot blocker,’ says Scola, ‘So that’s what I try to do to compensate. It’s just about trying to do what you do best and trying to do what’s productive for you.’… That’s not to say charges drawn will lessen in significance this season; Head Coach Rick Adelman and his players insist it will continue to play a pivotal role in the team’s defensive strategies. It simply means the Rockets should be a more versatile defensive team this time around – welcome news for a club desperate to return to its dominant defensive roots.”
  • As great as Sebastian Pruiti’s NBA Playbook blog is, its tips generally can not be implemented in any kind of tangible way unless the reader happens to possess a 40-inch-vertical or can run the length of a basketball court in four strides. Well, now there is something we can all improve without hurting ourselves: free throw shooting! It’s a credit to Pruiti how captivating the real-time free throws taken by four experts (Steve Nash, Ray Allen, Dirk Nowitzki, Chauncey Billups) are after reading the entire post. Those guys are really, really good at taking those.
  • After all of that, somehow this is the weirdest thing that happened at media day. But looking at it, could it be anything else?

This entry was posted in Rockets Daily. Bookmark the permalink. Post a comment or leave a trackback: Trackback URL.
Read previous post:
Rockets Daily: Monday, September 27th, 2010
NY Daily News: Rockets considering helping Knicks land ‘Melo?
Rockets Daily: Friday, September 24th, 2010