Daily Rocket Science: D-Mo, D’Antoni, and Draymond
By Ben Casey
The Houston Rockets have been playing great basketball lately, but that isn’t the only reason they’ve been in the news.
Donatas Motiejunas has taken Houston Rockets fans on a roller coaster of emotions over the past few days. After months of failed negotiations with Houston GM Daryl Morey, he signed a $34 million contract with the Brooklyn Nets. The Rockets, then, chose to match their offer. Since then, Motiejunas has failed to show up for his physical, and doesn’t seem to have any intent to change his mind.
In other news, Mike D’Antoni has been doing more than anyone expected for the Rockets. Also, Draymond Green dragged James Harden into the whole face-kicking fiasco with recent comments. Today’s Daily Rocket Science will cover everything mentioned here in a little more depth.
Houston Rockets news and notes from around the web
ESPN’s Calvin Watkins provides Red Nation with all the available information about the D-Mo situation. It seems that the fuss is being made over an extra $6 million he would have made with the Nets. We haven’t seen the end of the Motiejunas saga, but things will likely wrap up before too long.
After the Rockets matched the offer sheet, Motiejunas had two days to report for his physical, which his agent B.J. Armstrong told the team he would not do.
Houston’s options are to keep their first-refusal exercise notice open and wait for Motiejunas to report. If he doesn’t report, Houston can pull the offer Thursday and Motiejunas would become a restricted free agent. If they don’t pull the offer, it would expire automatically March 1.
The decision was questionable from get-go for the Rockets to match the Nets’ offer, given how well the team has been playing. Fans and pundits alike saw the hiring of D’Antoni as foolish, but it’s clear now that Morey knew what he was doing. Sam Amick of USA Today writes on how D’Antoni has fit in just about as perfectly as possible so far in Houston.
"Said Harden, whose assists have spiked from 7.5 a game last season to a league-leading 11.6, is averaging 28.7 points (fourth in the NBA), a career-high 7.6 rebounds: “(D’Antoni) just told me he was going to make me the point guard and just continue to make me a better player, and he’s doing that. He isn’t trying to control. He just tries to help. And if I see something, I’ll throw it at him. It’s a real friendship; it’s obviously coach and player. And it works.”"
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One of the best wins for the streaking Rockets so far was the double-overtime thriller against the Golden State Warriors. During that game, Draymond Green accrued a flagrant foul for kicking Harden in the face. Afterwards, Green compared his kicking habit to the Beard’s ability to draw fouls. A couple of days later, Harden aptly defended himself in an interview with Ben Golliver of Sports Illustrated.
"“I wouldn’t call it unnatural,” Harden said. “For me, I just go to the basket and go up with two hands like you’re taught. If you grab my arm it’s a foul. That’s pretty natural in the sport of basketball, in any league. I don’t know about whatever else [Green] has got going on.”"
James Harden also made the claim that he’s the best MVP candidate so far in that interview. Last night, he validated that statement with a 25 point/8 assist performance against the Los Angeles Lakers. The Rockets were able to get their revenge against LA, the team that handed them their first loss of the season on opening night.
Houston has a back-to-back coming up this weekend, playing against Russell Westbrook‘s Oklahoma City Thunder on Friday and the struggling Dallas Mavericks the next night. If they win both, they’ll be on pace to win 57 games this year.