Part 2 of the Houston Rockets end of season round table focuses on the future of specific players and how they’ll be utilized (or should be) in the post season. Oh – – and we discuss who gets the pleasure of guarding Stephen Curry.
Suffice to say the piece is far reaching and offers various opinions from the many writers on the Space City Scoop staff. Thanks to those who took time out of their busy schedules to participate.
In part two the SCS team discuss the futures and potential playoff contributions of Terrence Jones, Michael Beasley, Corey Brewer, and K.J. McDaniels and who draws the scary proposition of guarding Stephen Curry
Round Table Part 2
6. Terrence Jones is also a restricted free agent. Bickerstaff hasn’t played him since his car accident that resulted in a concussion even after he passed the concussion protocol. Given the likelihood J.B. won’t return (at least in the same capacity) should the Rockets consider retaining him this summer?
Joshua Van Horn: The Rockets should let go of Jones. He never made the improvement that is necessary for players who have been in the league for a couple of years. There were glimmers of hope, but not anything enough to warrant another contract. At this point, I don’t think there’s anything Jones could do to prove himself to the Rockets.
Quoc Thai: No, the Rockets have an embarrassment of riches at power forward. Even though none of them is a star (maybe Beasley could return to his stardom). Personally, I’d rather have Josh Smith and Montrezl Harrell rotating at the backup PF position with D-Mo moving to the backup center position.
Tamberlyn Richardson: It’s rather odd how quickly Terrence Jones has slid down the Rockets depth chart. Even prior to the signing of Michael Beasley he was relegated to the end of the bench. Sure he’s the master of odd injuries: leg nerve damage, punctured lung, lacerated eyelid and a car accident leading to a concussion to name a few. Not exactly a laundry list of ‘normal’ injuries NBA players get on a regular basis. At season start Kevin McHale spoke glowingly of Jones in the press conference stating the team expected big things from him.
Looking at the Raptors as an example of utilizing a positional tandem the work of Jonas Valanciunas and Bismack Biyombo was the perfect yin-yang version of a center duo. I thought there could have been an opportunity for that to occur in Houston. But, then D-Mo’s back took longer to progress and McHale was fired. It was clear Jones was not high on Bickerstaff’s favorite’s list. By the time Montrezl Harrell was played ahead of him it seemed the writing was on the wall. Certainly Jones didn’t help his own cause seemingly regressing on all fronts this season. And normally I’m an advocate of showing patience to develop young talent especially considering the value of rookie extension contracts. That said, I think it’s time for Jones to find a team where he can have a fresh start.
Andre Cantalogo: I think Terrence Jones is as good as gone. Even though he’s also still very young he actually took a lot of steps back this season and hasn’t developed as expected. There’s probably nothing he could do as well given that I don’t think he’ll get any minutes in post season unfortunately.
Anthony Nguyen: This may be contradictory to the answer above but since the injury Terrence Jones just hasn’t been the same player. It’s hard to plug in a player in the post season who hasn’t had much time on the court at game time speed. Michael Beasley offers more versatility and scoring options to the front court rotation much more than Jones does. As for the summer, I don’t see Terrence Jones being a Rocket, but it would be hard to deal him because his value has substantially plummeted.
Ben Casey: I’ve never been a huge fan of T-Jones. I would make the minimum offer and then resign him if nobody offers him any significant money. However, if another team wants to sign him for a big paycheck, I’d let him go. There are plenty of other power forwards on the team anyway. I could change my mind if he comes up huge or something in the playoffs, but I don’t see that taking place.
Coty Davis: To be honest, I forgot T-Jones was still on the team. Since the emergence of Clint Capela, Michael Beasley, and assuming the Rockets keep Donatas Motiejunas. It would be in Jones and the Rockets best interest to part ways this summer. Despite his injury-prone season, Terrence Jones is still a great young player. Perhaps his talents can be used on an up-and-coming team like the Jazz who need a power forward.
Next: The growth of a talent
Mar 13, 2015; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; Miami Heat forward Michael Beasley (30) warms up before playing against the Toronto Raptors at Air Canada Centre. The Raptors beat the Heat 102-92. Mandatory Credit: Tom Szczerbowski-USA TODAY Sports
7.Michael Beasley has been signed for 2 years at the league veteran minimum. The second year is non guaranteed, however the Rockets would have to waive him by August 1st. Given he’s slated for a very thrifty $1.403 million next season is it a no brainer to retain Beasley? And how confident are you he can continue his current production levels (emotional maturity)?
Quoc Thai: I believe that the Rockets should waive his veteran minimum and sign him to a longer deal, maybe three years $10,000,000. So far he has seemed to be emotionally mature. I would bet my money that he wouldn’t repeat his stint with the Heat. The Rockets also need his iso offensive game. He is the best offensive star beside Harden.
Tamberlyn Richardson: Thinking back to when Carlos Boozer was with the Cavaliers I recall there was a handshake deal in place to waive the last portion of Boozer’s contract and then re-sign him. The Cavaliers stuck to their end of the deal and Boozer promptly left for Utah. The reason I bring this up is the value of Beasley’s contract is super thrifty considering the escalating salaries of free agents. It’s been interesting to watch Beasley step into the role of the second scoring option on the team when he defies everything the Rockets believe in with his mid-range shot.
Perhaps the Rockets should have considered how much value a player with this versatility offered much sooner and Red Nation wouldn’t have suffered through numerous games watching the team hoist up perimeter shots to the tune of 20%. Given the whole Boozer argument, I’d say leave the contract as is and have a sit down with Beasley to establish a relationship that indicates the desire to make him a prominent part of the offense next season. He still needs to work on his defense and demonstrate he can be this productive over 82 games, but the value of his contract is without question.
Andre Cantalogo: The Rockets must keep Michael Beasley exactly where he is. I believe the Rockets found the perfect spot for him in the rotation: leading the team coming off the bench where he can create his own shots and play freely as he did in China. If Beasley can embrace this role next season as well as he did this season then I’m pretty sure he’ll be in the league for a long time.
Anthony Nguyen: No brainer, he’s been awesome for Houston. As for the maturity issues, its evident that he’s grown so much as a person and player. I’m confident that he’ll be able to grow and not take any steps back because of the veterans and ex Rockets that are constantly surrounding the organization. As long as he’s constantly looking for knowledge from the veterans and player development coaches he’ll be fine. I mean, how many chances are you going to get before you finally learn right?
Ben Casey: It’s a complete no brainer. He’s come in and, against all odds, been a huge help to the Rockets. He’s one of the few guys on the team that I definitely want to see back next year. This may be overly optimistic, but I think he’s a changed man. He seemed to learn a lot during his tenure in China and seems dedicated to being a consistent contributor. I’ve become a big Beasley fan and I want him in Houston indefinitely.
Coty Davis: Of course, this is a no-brainer. The Rockets would be foolish not to bring Michael Beasley back. I know he has had his problems in the past, but I see a young man who has learned from his mistakes. I’m’ sure Beasley is going to do all he can to stay in the league and rebuild his career reputation. After the great start, he has had to his career in Houston. I have high hopes for the former number two draft pick.
Joshua Van Horn: Signing Beasley is a no brainier. His offense has been impressive, and it seems like he has really turned a corner with his level headedness. Considering his talent, his contract, and the Rockets need for offense outside of James Harden, it seems like Morey would have to bring him back.
Next: On a slow 'Brew'?
Nov 18, 2015; Houston, TX, USA; Houston Rockets guard Corey Brewer (33) and guard James Harden (13) react following a three point basket by Brewer to tie the game in regulation against the Portland Trail Blazers in the fourth quarter at Toyota Center. The Rockets won in overtime 108-103. Mandatory Credit: Thomas B. Shea-USA TODAY Sports
8. Despite the Kelly Scalleta Bleacher Report article with claims to the contrary Corey Brewer is locked in until the end of 2017-18 (without team or player options). Given his regression and lack of production this season how aggressively should management look to trade Brewer?
Tamberlyn Richardson: Clearly Corey Brewer is one of Bickerstaff’s favorites given the minutes he registers on a nightly basis whether he’s productive or not. On paper he’s the perfect archetype for the Rockets given his speed, ability to run the wings and defend. In reality his regression this season is troubling. It’s also difficult to dislike Brewer as his affable demeanor is a welcome respite from the brooding Rockets faces that peppered the court this season.
That said, I recall early in the season when Brewer hit a hail Mary 3-pointer that tied the game versus the Blazers and allowed the Rockets to pull out an overtime victory following four consecutive losses. It was also one of the few times Red Nation witnessed a Brewer scowl. Harden (as pictured above) slapped Brewer in the head trying to celebrate with him, but Brewer continued to walk off the court ignoring Harden. Notably this was in the first game following McHale’s firing, so I recall thinking at the time, aha – – Brewer may have been one of the players who voiced their displeasure privately to ESPN and suggested Harden was behind McHale’s firing. It’s completely speculation on my part, so don’t take it as gospel, but it does make one wonder.
Moving forward, if there are relationship issues Brewer’s contract won’t be easy to move given there are no opt outs and his regression makes him less desirable. Though, there could be an argument made to Bryan Colangelo (the new Sixers GM) that Brewer would be an excellent veteran voice to help nurture their young talent. Something Philadelphia is in dire need of.
Andre Cantalogo: Corey Brewer’s role has been totally and utterly replaced by Michael Beasley. The Rockets should actively look to make a deal and get whatever they can for him, even if it’s only cap relief.
Anthony Nguyen: Brewer is a keeper because he fits the mold of this Houston team. Getting out in transition, attacking the basket relentlessly and scrapping on defense. His outing from deep has dropped this year but one thing you can’t discount from Brewer is his energy and effort night in and night out. Which is a statement you can’t pin on half of Houston’s roster.
Ben Casey: I’ve become a big fan of Brewer since he arrived last season. He’s an easy guy to like, with his constant smiling and his fan-friendliness. However, he’s been nothing but a detriment for the majority of this season and it would be in the team’s best interest to trade him. I wouldn’t be in too much of a hurry to get him out before training camp, but I wouldn’t go to any lengths to keep him around till training camp either.
Coty Davis: Look I’m a Corey Brewer fan! So I am going to give him the benefit of the doubt that this was just a bad year. Unless he is a core piece of a blockbuster trade, I say keep him one more season.
Joshua Van Horn: Management should definitely try to move Brewer. Given his past season, I think it will be difficult, but maybe there will be a team looking to add a veteran presence. The Rockets should make sure they get something for him though. If they are unable to trade him, and he has to stick around, McDaniels deserves to see his minutes, and Brewer will have to take a Terry-like role.
Quoc Thai: The Rockets should be looking to trade him. However, that might be hard given his terrible stats this year and his salary. He could be bundled with some other assets to get us a first round draft pick this year.
Next: Can anyone stop the MVP?
Apr 9, 2016; Memphis, TN, USA; Golden State Warriors guard Stephen Curry (30) looks on from the bench against the Memphis Grizzlies at FedExForum. The Warriors won 100-99. Mandatory Credit: Nelson Chenault-USA TODAY Sports
9.The ability to stop Stephen Curry will be paramount to winning. Who draws the primary role of defending him and what contingency plans should be in place?
Quoc Thai: It should be obvious that Trevor Ariza will guard Curry. Ariza has the size advantage and he is also quick enough to do so. Beverley has regressed defensively this year, so I wouldn’t trust him to defend Curry. McDaniels is also a good defender, I would trust either of Brewer or Ariza for the job.
Andre Cantalogo: I’m pretty sure that Patrick Beverley will get the first shot at guarding Curry. I’m also very confident that Trevor Ariza will be guarding him at some point. I would LOVE to see the athletic K.J. McDaniels guarding him man-to-man for a while as I feel he could match his speed and actually give him a hard time.
Anthony Nguyen: It’s very cliche but you can’t really stop Curry, you can only hope to contain him. The Spurs did an excellent job in 2 of the games they’ve faced the Warriors in limiting his production and making the game difficult for him. Roughing him up for sure is a key which I feel Patrick Beverley can do. Another key factor is that which ever post player is involved in high ball screen action with Curry MUST get out and trap or delay his dribble. Many times throughout the season I have noticed the post man who is involved will either be nonchalant coming out on Curry or decide to sit back for whatever reason. Basketball is purely a rhythm sport, if Curry is able to comfortably get a feel for the ball with no pressure around him than trust that there will be a lot of shoulder shimmying to enjoy.
Ben Casey: I think it should be a mix of Patrick Beverley and KJ McDaniels, swapping them out to keep them fresh. Trevor Ariza will have his hands full enough covering either Draymond Green or Klay Thompson, and isn’t quite quick enough to keep up with Steph. Whoever is guarding Steph should be instructed to pay literally no attention to anyone else and to never allow himself to be more than an arm’s length from him, no matter where he is on the court. If nothing else, it will be annoying enough to get in his head a bit.
Coty Davis: Due to the fact they play the same position, Patrick Beverley will have the primary role of defending Stephen Curry. However, it does not matter who Bickerstaff decides to task with guarding Chef Curry. The Rockets have NO CHANCE AT STOPPING THIS MAN FROM SCORING!
Joshua Van Horn: Beverley will have the first go at Curry. He won’t be able to stop him, but it will go a long way if he can make Curry’s job as difficult as possible. The coaching staff should makes sure Beverley’s time on the floor mirrors Curry’s. Outside of Beverley, the only other Rocket who may have a chance at guarding Curry is Ariza, but I think Curry’s quickness would outmatch Ariza’s length.
Tamberlyn Richardson: The reality is Curry won’t be stopped. Bickerstaff will logically send different players to guard the likely repeat MVP over the course of the game. The problem will be not allowing Steph to get into an early rhythm which means picking him up in the back court and remaining glued to him. No doubt Patrick Beverley will draw the initial assignment, and no doubt he’ll try to annoy him by being chippy (think Russell Westbrook). If Beverley delivers a cheap shot it will only serve to incense the Warriors who’ll send Green or Bogut to counteract his actions.
The other problem is James Harden isn’t exactly suited to guard Curry or Klay Thompson and though Ariza offers length even his stellar defense is better served at limiting Draymond Green. The logical choice would be K.J. McDaniels who should be utilized to stick to Curry like glue. Again, this isn’t ideal since he won’t offer much in the way of offense, so whoever guards him will get rest on defense. Looking at the teams who fared well in their matches (like the Raptors, Celtics, Spurs and Bucks) they chose to utilize one of 3 options. Pick him up from the inbound, put length on him or be aggressive. McDaniels from my perspective is simply the best option.
Next: McDaniels' Value?
Mar 29, 2016; Cleveland, OH, USA; Cleveland Cavaliers guard Kyrie Irving (2) drives on Houston Rockets guard K.J. McDaniels (32) during the second quarter at Quicken Loans Arena. Mandatory Credit: Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports
10. Bickerstaff (as a few writers on the site have written about) is just like his team when it comes to roster rotations: inconsistent. Case in point K.J. McDaniels has been utilized for double digit minutes in one game and a CD DNP (coaches decision – did not play) the next. Should Bickerstaff assign him regular rotation minutes in the post season? In what role and for what average MPG (minutes per game)?
Andre Cantalogo: He should, but we won’t. As I said in the previous answer I’d love to see him taking a shot at guarding Curry. He will likely sit on the bench through the whole series. Unfortunately.
Anthony Nguyen: Against the Warriors I do believe that K.J should be assigned regular rotation minutes because of the match ups they present. Golden State’s second unit makes a killing off of Shaun Livingston taking advantage of smaller guards. To avoid this scenario, K.J can match up with Livingston while Jason Terry can hide on Leandro Barbosa.
K.J I believe will also draw the assignment of defending Curry at times, which I’m fine with. The only worry there is that the Warriors will look to hide Curry on K.J McDaniels on the defensive side of the floor. McDaniels offensively hasn’t been much of a factor because of his inconsistent shooting and poor decision making at times (which is understandable due to his limited time on the floor).
Ben Casey: Like I said in the last question, I’d like to see KJ get significant minutes guarding Steph Curry. His athleticism is unmatched on the team and is arguably the best man for the job. I don’t want him trying to contribute on offense in any way other than converting a fast break layup or something similar, but I’d like to see him log 20 minutes or more per night of hounding Steph Curry
Coty Davis: No. Honestly, I am hoping the Rockets trade K.J. McDaniels this summer. McDaniels is a great young player and I hate to see his talents go to waste at the end of Houston’s bench.
Joshua Van Horn: This is the most difficult question for me. I imagine Brewer will eat up McDaniel’s minutes because of his veteran experience. As bad as Brewer has been at times, I don’t believe him being a veteran is enough to warrant him warranting playing time over McDaniels, but I’m willing to bet that is the logic the Rockets coaching staff is going to use.
Quoc Thai: K.J. McDaniels should absolutely be playing solid minutes. He put up great defensive efforts and hustle. His only flaw is that he looks to be selfish sometimes with the ball, but that is to be expected when you don’t have much opportunity to impress regularly. Against the Warriors, I would give him as high as 7th man, after Beasley. We need his perimeter defensive skill against Steph and company.
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Tamberlyn Richardson: As per my response to question 9, I’m a big advocate of utilizing McDaniels as the key defender on Curry. I also feel he offers the ability to switch on Thompson or Barnes if either fall into an early rhythm. In the Cavaliers game when the Rockets erased a double digit lead it was McDaniels and Capela working in concert on defense which had much to do with Houston’s success.
Notably McDaniels hasn’t shown much offense, but I’ll point to the fact Bickerstaff should have been using him all season or sent him to the D-League where he could have developed confidence. His skills aren’t of the same set as the Raptors Norman Powell, but that precise strategy (D-League usage) resulted in Powell becoming a player Duane Casey can’t afford not to utilize in the post season.
Part 1 of the Round Table can be linked to here
Part 3 of the Round Table can be linked to here
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