With the win against the Thunder, Yao’s enshrinement into the Hall of Fame, and the possibility of adding Durant in the summer, things are okay for now in Houston.
I’m not saying we all need to bust open a bottle of Yao Family Wines and celebrate, but things could have easily gone south over the past few days. The Houston Rockets, though, handed the Oklahoma City Thunder what feels like their 700th blown-fourth-quarter-lead loss this season to keep their playoff hopes alive. Additionally, Yao Ming deservedly made the cut to be a first-ballot Hall of Famer. Not that anything has happened yet, but James Harden is also ready to recruit Kevin Durant to leave OKC this summer to join forces with him in H-town.
Houston Rockets news and notes from around the web
First, lets look at the possibility of signing Kevin Durant. Calvin Watkins of ESPN reported that James Harden, as Durant’s friend on and off the court, will take up the front end up the recruiting process. While there are other players in several different cities who will be charged with the same task as Harden, the Rockets are a more appealing destination than most other teams, in my opinion.
The Rockets’ best player and leading scorer will become the main recruiter this summer in the franchise’s quest to sign Kevin Durant, whom Harden played with for three seasons in Oklahoma City.
Selling points for the Rockets include no state income tax in Texas, ability to team up with one of the league’s best scorers in Harden, and a bigger city with more marketing opportunities compared to Oklahoma City.
If you’re wondering what the Rockets’ playoff chances are and what chances the other teams have that are competing for the final spots, look no further. House of Houston’s James D’Elia provided a comprehensive analysis and prediction of the current 5-9 seeds’ schedules for the remainder of the season, and drew up where he believes they’ll all land after the dust settles. Houston got lucky with a very easy schedule for the majority of the rest of the season, but everyone knows by now that this team is more capable than others at rolling over in games that should be easy wins.
"I expect the Rockets to actually turn up when it matters most this time. The last four games of the year are games you would expect a team of this caliber to win and they SHOULD. Yes, “should” being the key word in that sentence. I have absolutely no confidence in the ability of the Rockets to knock out a five-game winning streak leading into the playoffs but with the soft schedule they really have to try hard to mess it up. These four last games need to all be wins if the Rockets want to avoid getting swept in the first round by the Warriors."
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And now, we’ll move on to a real reason to celebrate. Earlier today, Yao Ming was officially inducted into the Hall of Fame. Yao is a special link in the chain of great big men who have played for Houston, and was the reason I ever began to watch the Rockets. After a career cut short by injury, it’s good to see the league still acknowledging him as a basketball great. There has been a bit of disagreement among analysts as to whether Yao deserves the induction, but nobody is more on his side than his former coach, Jeff Van Gundy. As the Houston Chronicle’s Jonathan Feigen reported, Van Gundy has no doubts in his mind of Yao’s worthiness of the Hall of Fame.
"“This guy should not be punished for injuries he suffered in the pursuit of greatness,” Van Gundy said before the Rockets’ game against the Oklahoma City Thunder on Sunday. “When he played, he was great. There was Shaq (O’Neal) and then there was him and the dropoff from Yao to the next center after that was a bigger gap than between Shaq and Yao."
There is lots of time for things to go south again before the 2015-2016 season comes to a close, but for now, things are looking good for the Houston Rockets (not as good as we all expected back in October, but better than we’ve feared as of late).
— NBA (@NBA) April 4, 2016
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