From Durant’s departure from Oklahoma City to the All-Star game being moved from Charlotte, the summer of 2016 has seen the landscape of the NBA change pretty drastically.
With all the changes taking place around the league, the Houston Rockets are no exception. This time last year, I was gearing up to watch James Harden take his team deep into the playoffs and contend for a title. After the disaster of this past season, Houston’s front office wisely decided to change things up to ensure the 2016-2017 campaign is drastically different from what became the sad norm this year.
With big names leaving H-town and others signing contracts to join the team, the Rockets are poised to enter this season with very undefined expectations. Today’s Daily Rocket Science will focus on assessing the state of affairs in Houston at the moment in order to try and predict what this year will look like.
Houston Rockets news and notes from around the web
Rahat Huq of Red94 wrote on this very subject, providing a profound analysis of the Rockets’ strategy with how they’ve assembled their roster and advising readers on his opinion of the proper mindset to have as a fan of the league and student of the game.
"I’ve written a lot the past year about the need to, rather than trying to be the best, just stick around and be “good enough”. I think you want to just stick around, chase 50 wins each year, and just be interesting. When things grow stale, inject some novelty with some sort of acquisition, even if not as drastic as an entirely new scheme. You want to aim to just be good and then luck your way into a title – this idea becomes even more applicable when you already have a star."
One of the biggest signings for the Rockets this offseason was the renegotiation of Harden’s contract that will firmly plant him in Houston for at least three more years. While some have criticized the seemingly unnecessary nature of the restructure, Rob Mahoney of Sports Illustrated argues the opposite, citing the message it sends to other superstars around the league about how well Daryl Morey wants treat his big name players in Houston.
"The ball will be in Harden’s hands. An extra $10 million will be in his pocket. And the Rockets have, if nothing else, alleviated some of the internal stressors to stage a fun and reasonably competitive showcase for their best player. Disagree with their methods if you will, but Houston’s commitment to its top talent is undeniably thorough."
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In case you were wondering about how the Beard’s been feeling about how his team’s offseason has been going, you can read his interview with NBA.com’s Lang Whitaker in which he talks all about it. It’s loaded with first-hand insight to Harden’s thoughts on the D’Antoni hire, the addition of three point specialists to the roster, and how Houston’s defense can improve this season.
Q: How do you feel you fit into Mike D’Antoni’s system, and how do you feel his system benefits you?
HARDEN: You know what? The day he got hired, we watched film. We’ve communicated several times a week. You know, it’s going to work. I’m really excited about it because he’s prepared. He’s prepared, he’s given me knowledge, he’s given me things where I can fit into his offense and what he’s trying to do.
While the Rockets’ chances of hoisting up a trophy at the end of this season are slim to none, there is plenty to be excited about in Houston. Like Rahat Huq wrote, it may be a better strategy for a team to shoot to be a good and exciting rather than throw all their efforts at being the best, only to have a high chance of failing.
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