Houston Rockets: Two off season story lines that will keep you on the edge of your seat

Feb 4, 2016; Phoenix, AZ, USA; Houston Rockets center Dwight Howard (12) talks with head coach J.B. Bickerstaff at Talking Stick Resort Arena. Mandatory Credit: Jennifer Stewart-USA TODAY Sports
Feb 4, 2016; Phoenix, AZ, USA; Houston Rockets center Dwight Howard (12) talks with head coach J.B. Bickerstaff at Talking Stick Resort Arena. Mandatory Credit: Jennifer Stewart-USA TODAY Sports /

Unmet expectations are always a bummer, sometimes, they are even  revolting.

If you’ve ever taken a drink while expecting Dr. Pepper, only to be assaulted with Diet Pepsi, you know what I mean. This season with the Houston Rockets, we thought we’d be drinking Dr. Pepper by the gallons, instead, we’ve often been dealt warm, flat Diet Pepsi. If you haven’t already, it’s time to adjust your expectations of this season.

Rethink your thoughts. Redo your hopes and dreams. Look at this team as a scrappy fighter, a potential upset in the first round. Look for them to claw and hiss their way into the sixth seed and war with the Thunder or Clippers. How great would a Thunder series be? Patrick Beverley and Russell Westbrook going at it for a handful for games would be awesome. Kevin Durant and James Harden would put on a show. If the Rockets stun the world, great! If not, hey, they made the playoffs. It could be worse. We could be Pelican’s fans, or even Laker’s fans. I shutter at the thought.

Space City Scoop’s, Andre Cantalogo, has given us three possible scenarios for this season. He’s right on the money. And as this season rolls towards the off season, every Rockets’ fan should be on the edge of their seat. This summer is going to be an interesting one. There’s a kaleidoscope of story lines to follow? Let’s think about the two big ones.

Story line one: Will Dwight Howard stay or go?

I think he’s out. I like what Dwight has done for the city of Houston. I don’t mind his goofy personality. We will miss his rebounding, but team chemistry will be fine, if not better, when Dwight goes to catch lob passes somewhere else. The 2014-2015 Houston Rockets slugged their way to second seed, their division title, and the Western Conference Finals with Howard missing most of the year. The Rockets will be fine without him. Don’t miss Bleacher Report’s discussion on where they think Howard will fit in today’s NBA.

Here’s one small reason why I won’t be sad when Dwight Howard leaves: If there is a stat for fumbled passes, Dwight would lead it. I understand why Harden, or other guys, are hesitant to get Howard the ball with his feet on the ground in the post. He fumbles more balls than Mark Sanchez, “Mr. Butt Fumble.” Dwight can catch a lob pass. I’ll give him that. In the air, Dwight is great. On the ground? Eh.

I get why Dwight wants a max contract? Who wouldn’t? Of course he wants to make the most money he can. Everyone does. He’s got a few more years left in the league, he’s got to capitalize on whatever team will offer him the most money. I highly doubt Morey will give it to him. The Rockets will move on from Dwight Howard as a dominant superstar center because the NBA has moved on from the kind of center that Dwight is, or wants to be.

The era of Hakeem Olajuwon, Shaquille O’Neal, and Patrick Ewing are long gone. Today’s NBA doesn’t place a premium on a strong post-up game. High-caliber teams are faster, filled with lots of ball movement, and spread the floor. If Dwight could have developed a mid-range jump shot, even around the free throw line, he’d be way more valuable to a team. But sadly, his shooting range is four feet.

Where do you think Dwight ends up? Should he stay? Should he go?

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Story line two: Who will be the head coach?

The moments of pitiful play by the Rockets this year wasn’t Kevin McHale’s fault and it hasn’t been Bickerstaff’s fault. Harden was in a slump. The team chemistry wasn’t there. We’ve missed more wide-open threes than there are construction barrels on the Houston freeways. The Ty Lawson acquisition was a bust. This season has been a perfect storm of yikes. But yet, here we are, fighting for the sixth seed—the seed we would have last year if we would have lost to the Jazz in the final game of the regular season, or if the Spurs wouldn’t have lost to the Pelicans. The Pelicans, y’all.

I don’t fault Bickerstaff for the Rockets’ record. I’m not sure if J.B. Bickerstaff will be the head coach next season or not. The Houston Rockets decided to let him ride out the season and have been tight-lipped ever since. I like Bickerstaff, and I think he’s finding his groove, and it seems he’s settled on a rotation that works. The players also seem to respect him and like playing for him. So, if Morey and the gang give Bickerstaff the keys for another season, I wouldn’t be upset about it. But one thing is clear, the Rockets need help on defense. If that means a new assistant coach, so be it. If that means a new head coach, so be it. And I think we all know who that guy is.

Tom Thibodeau. Mandatory Credit: Dennis Wierzbicki-USA TODAY Sports

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