The Trade Deadline left the Rockets with a lot of issues to deal with, and not much time to deal with them.
The Houston Rockets played their first post trade deadline game last night, and to the public’s surprise, they actually looked like a functioning basketball team. Granted, it was a win against the rebuilding Phoenix Suns, but it was still nice to see.
Now, the team has to play the Utah Jazz, the just-destroyed-the-Warriors Portland Trail Blazers, and the immortal San Antonio Spurs. All of those teams are in their conference and all of them are either ahead of them in the standings or have identical winning percentages. Additionally, only two of their next ten games will be in Houston. For a team with a good amount of non-basketball related issues to deal with (everyone seems to be mad at each other), that’s a lot of hard basketball to be played.
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The days and weeks leading up to the trade deadline were a mess for Houston. There was hardly a name on the roster that wasn’t tied to some sort of trade rumor and every player (besides James Harden) had a right to fear being shipped out. Space City Scoop editor Tamberlyn Richardson provided a complete update of all the issues that the Rockets have laid out before them going into the last part of the regular season, and what can be done to fix them. I don’t want to leak too much (if only Morey felt that way), but she pinned a lot of the blame on the one guy who had no fear of wearing a different uniform for the rest of the season.
"And in a loss where Harden has scored 30 points few will point to the fact he didn’t pass the ball to Howard or attempt to play team defense as the reason for the loss. In essence Howard is in a catch 22 all because of his past reputation. It’s a precarious position for the big man to be in. All his life he’s been ‘the man’, but now has altered his game to let Harden be the main recipient of the flashing camera’s. The fact he did step back speaks to his willingness to be a true leader. Alternatively, Harden asked for another ball handler and got it, but did nothing to help integrate Lawson since he wasn’t willing to alter his own game. THAT fact alone should be punctuating the real problem for Clutch City fans."
Who is to be blamed for all these issues? Is it Harden, as my editor suggests? How about Dwight Howard? Nobody really knows for sure, probably not even the members of the team. GM Daryl Morey put together a team that was widely expected to win 60 games, but it’s clear that isn’t even close to being in the realm of possibility anymore. Tom Ziller of SB Nation took an ironically analytical look at Morey’s team-building strategies and how effective they really are. There’s something to be said for how cheap he got the Beard to the Rockets, but there’s also something to be said for how unashamedly he shoved Howard into the face of so many GMs trying to sell him off.
"Morey did well to flip and for a pick, but that pick isn’t going to help Houston get into the playoffs. This is the Sam Hinkie conundrum: you can win every individual trade and do nothing special in the aggregate. That Detroit pick Morey grabbed on Thursday isn’t going to help Houston beat Golden State, San Antonio or Oklahoma City in April. That pick isn’t going to help Morey win his fourth playoff series in his ninth season at the helm of the Rockets. (In the aggregate, Morey’s Rockets are winning an average of one playoff series every two or three seasons.) Donatas Motiejunas Marcus Thornton"
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Is there any hope for this season? Many fans believe that the trading of Motiejunas and Thornton was symbolic of Morey raising the white flag for the 2015-2016 campaign. Going into the All-Star break on a three game losing streak did not bode well for the rest of the season. However, as Calvin Watkins of ESPN reported, the team actually looked like they wanted to play basketball together last night. The game was full of high-fives and smiles and they secured an easy win.
"“That’s been the message: We came out of the break and hit the reset button,” Bickerstaff said. “Everything that happened in the past is in the past. We had 27 games coming out of the break — it’s now a 26-game season for us. [The] only thing that matters is getting this team to its potential.”"
The championship aspirations that the Rockets had at the beginning of the season are long gone, but that’s not to say they can’t come out and make the last 26 games worth watching. The NBA Playoffs are all about peaking at the right time, and Houston still has a slimmer of hope to be a dangerous team come April. If that’s going to happen, there is zero time to waste. Let’s see what the guys can do.
Send our Editor any Rockets-related article/video/tweet/gram/vine that we may have missed via Twitter direct message to @TTOTambz.
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