The season may not be over yet, but it’s never too early to think about the offseason.
Okay, that probably isn’t true for some teams. Surely, the San Antonio Spurs and the Cleveland Cavaliers haven’t given an ounce of thought to the summer yet, and that’s perfectly fine. However, for a team that is vying (unsuccessfully at the moment) for a matchup with the Golden State Warriors in the first round, thinking about the future is probably a bit more productive than thinking about the now in some respects.
The Houston Rockets have six more games left on their schedule, and at least a few of them have to end up being wins if they want a shot at at least four more after that. They have an off day today, but tip off against the OKC Thunder tomorrow afternoon. I’m still of the belief that the Rockets can make the playoffs and even land a spot higher than the eighth seed, but there are writers and analysts who are already discussing the future for this team.
Houston Rockets news and notes from around the web
If Houston chooses to make available all the players that could be available come this summer, there will be eight free agents who could leave Space City. Of those eight guys, whom should be kept around and whom should get the boot? It’s a tough question because each of the players, like the Rockets as a whole, tends to go back and forth between being wildly effective and nearly nonexistent on the court. Kelly Scaletta of Bleacher Report tackles the issue of which free agents to bring back next year in her feature article from yesterday.
"The Rockets should consider keeping Howard around, but they should use appropriate discretion in doing so. Ponying up excess cash or giving him a long-term guaranteed deal would be too easy to regret down the road. With this, and really with all their decisions, Morey and the Rockets need to consider who they want not just next year but also the following few after that. Rather than looking at quick fixes and Band-Aids, they need to establish a foundation."
Speaking of players who might be out of a job in Houston come next season, the Rockets’ interim coach, JB Bickerstaff may fall in that category. As ESPN’s Calvin Watkins reports, he has the backing of Houston’s front office for the moment, but much is left to be decided for the new guy. If the Rockets end up making the playoffs and making some noise towards the season’s end, there may be hope for him. However, it would admittedly look pretty bad if a guy who was promoted to fix the Rockets’ problems couldn’t drag them to the postseason.
Bickerstaff has not spoken with management about his job status, and doesn’t plan to until after the season is over.
There were high expectations after the Rockets reached the Western Conference finals last season as the No. 2 seed. But a poor start and the lack of performance by the players for McHale forced the front office to fire him.
Houston is 33-32 since Bickerstaff took over, and he might need to reach the postseason to retain the job.
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So, if so many people’s future with the team is going to be affected by the next few games, it should be of upmost priority for the Rockets to play well and win those games. With that being said, it’s no surprise that Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle reports that Houston is officially in desperation mode for the rest of the season. There is much on the line, and the team can’t afford to make the same silly mistakes that they’ve made on a consistent basis this season.
"“It’s do or die,” interim coach J.B. Bickerstaff said. “The opportunity is there. If you want it, you’ll take it. We all have to be on board with that. You can’t run from it. You have to go, you have to fight. All the other stuff doesn’t matter. You have to have the desire. You have to have the will. If we have the will and desire, we’ll get it done.”"
As the Rockets draw nearer and nearer to the end of the regular season, the intensity of the race for the playoffs continues to grow. Make sure you keep updated on the latest Rockets news and analytics here at Space City Scoop. The win-or-go-home feeling showed up a little bit early for Houston this year, so the next few games should be ones to watch.
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