Posts Tagged ‘Houston Chronicle’

Style Changes On Tap For Rockets





HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS – The most intriguing question about what should be the most intriguing team in the NBA this season has already been answered by the one man who will have the most control over the situation.

Coach Kevin McHale — not Dwight Howard, James Harden or Jeremy Lin — will have the final say on how the Houston Rockets play now that Howard is in the mix. If McHale decides that the Dwight-in-the-middle approach that helped the Orlando Magic to The Finals in 2009 is the way to go, it will be. But if he has other plans, that’s his call, too.

Howard’s coach in Los Angeles last season, Mike D’Antoni, made it clear that he would not change his style fit his superstar personnel. We all know how that turned out for the Lakers.

There will be style changes for the Rockets this season and McHale is already laying the groundwork in advance of the start of training camp. He went into detail with Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle:

Q. A lot of last season’s success was based on the team’s clearly understanding how it needed to play. Can there be carryover, or do you have to change how this team needs to play?

A. I think we’re going to play basically the same style. We have to get better defensively, and with Dwight we have to have more of an emphasis on trying to get the ball in the post. Through Dwight running and Dwight doing different things, I think we can do that without really having to change our identity. We still want to get the ball up and down the floor. We still want to be aggressive and run and attack offensively. I think we have two of the top rim protectors in Dwight and Omer [Asik], so we have to use those guys. I’d like to use them together. It gives us a chance to have a defensive presence and run off our defense a little more. Our style will change a little bit because our personnel changes, but it won’t change dramatically. At least I hope it doesn’t.

Q. You put so much emphasis on spacing the floor last season with range shooting. Are you confident you can play Dwight and Omer together?

A. I’m definitely going to give it a shot. Your job is to try to put your best players on the floor. Omer is one of our best players. We have to figure out how we’re going to get him on the floor. That’s going to be a big thing where we’re able to get them on the floor together. We’ll rebound very well. They have to space each other. There’s going to be some challenges. I’m really looking forward to see. I want it to work. We’ll see if it does work.

Even better than McHale’s brutal honesty about how things will have to change for the Rockets is his no-nonsense approach for Asik (or anyone else) who isn’t ready to adapt to whatever style changes are coming:

Q. Have you had a chance to see how Omer feels about the addition of Dwight?

A. I have not.

Q. Are you concerned about how he reacts to all this? There were indications he was not happy about having another center coming in.

A. I didn’t know Omer was the general manager. That surprises me. He’s a player. His job is to come in and play. I haven’t had an opportunity to talk with him about all that, but Daryl (Morey‘s) job is to try to improve the team. Omer’s job is not to wonder how that affects him. His job is to figure out how they can play together and be effective.

If things don’t go as planned this season in Houston, it won’t be for the lack of clarity on the front end. McHale’s making it easy for everyone on the roster to stay in their lanes this season and let things evolve naturally.

Any tweaks to the way the Rockets play will handled accordingly, by the man in charge.

Believe It Jeremy Lin, You Are The Face Of The Rockets!


HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS –
Jeremy Lin was back on a teammates’ couch his first night in Houston, huh?

Some things never change.

(According to the report in the Houston Chronicle, Chandler Parsons wins the teammate couch challenge over ex-Knicks teammate Landry Fields.)

The former Knicks sensation and new face of the Houston Rockets clearly hasn’t forgotten where he came from, even if he still seems a bit bewildered by the cosmic ride he’s been on since breaking through last season in New York.

And we hope he never does.

Hopefully Lin takes a page out of the book Grant Hill will write one day about being the consummate and humble pro that all burgeoning stars (willing and reluctant) should aspire to be.

Stay hungry and stay humble through whatever comes your way.

Lin didn’t sound like he was 100 percent ready to take the reins in Houston, telling a crowd of reporter (our main man Jonathan Feigen being one of them):

“I don’t know if I’m the face of the franchise just yet,” Lin said, while surrounded by about 40 media members. “We’re a young team, and we’re all going to buy in.

“The thing about us is it’s not going to be any one person that is going to carry us where we want to go. It’s going to be everybody.”

But he has no choice.

This is real, young fella. Believe it, you are the face of the franchise … even though we love that you are pushing back on the idea. Because it will give you much more locker room cred if you don’t embrace the Texas version of Linsanity.

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The World Weighs In On The Lin Decision

HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS – The reaction to the news that the Knicks passed on an opportunity to keep Jeremy Lin in New York has been as one-sided as it has been swift.

Few people (fans, pundits, casual observers, cab drivers, finance experts, etc.) think it was wise for the Knicks to allow Lin to go to the Houston Rockets because they thought three years and $25.1 million (back-loaded in the third year for the Knicks) was a sum too rich for a guy who has started just 25 games.

That blowback from the public might have something to do with the Knicks’ history of being generous with their funds —  for example, Jerome James did collect $30 million from the Knicks for what amounts to a tiny crumb of the excitement Lin produced, on and off the court.

Dive in as the (media) world weighs in on the decision by the Knicks to pass on Lin …

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Rockets Making Noise, But For What?





HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS – Nothing gets the masses more excited this time of year than the notion of a blockbuster deal-to-be, something the Houston Rockets have mastered the past five years.

And Rockets general manager Daryl Morey is at it again, making moves in successive days leading up to tonight’s Draft, cranking up the speculation that something huge is on the horizon as they continue to climb up the draft board.

What that is, however, remains a mystery.

Dwight Howard‘s name is at the forefront of the rumors. And that’s always a good thing for everyone other than the folks in Orlando (check the video above).

Where this drama goes between now and tonight’s Draft is anyone’s guess, as Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle makes clear:

The Rockets also do not want to stop there in their climb up the draft board, and they do not want to add three rookies to the three players they drafted last season. With that in mind, they have been talking to teams throughout the top 10, especially Sacramento, which holds the fifth pick, and Toronto, which has the eighth pick, about moving up.

To move that much they would have to offer a veteran, rather than a package of picks. Guard Kyle Lowry is considered the most likely player to be moved, in part because of his relatively modest contract. But according to a person involved in the process, Lowry has in recent conversations seemed more open about returning to the Rockets since his comments last month and the team would like to bring him back if he is not the key to a larger deal.

While Magic center Dwight Howard is the Rockets’ top target, the Magic have not specifically said what it would take to get him since trade talks between the teams ended March 15, and have not indicated which player they would want to get in the draft to help facilitate a deal.

The Rockets are also are still interested in a deal for the Lakers’ Pau Gasol, according to a person with knowledge of their planning, but not at the price they would have paid before the season when they agreed to send Kevin Martin, Goran Dragic, Luis Scola and a first-round pick to New Orleans in the three-team deal blocked by commissioner David Stern.

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Hang Time Podcast (Episode 57)

OKLAHOMA CITY – Maybe we’re going to see that 2006 NBA Finals rematch after all.

The Dallas Mavericks have a commanding 3-1 lead over the Oklahoma City Thunder in the Western Conference finals, thanks to Monday night’s 112-105 overtime thriller. The Miami Heat can join them in the commanding lead department with Game 4 of the Eastern Conference finals on tap tonight in Miami and the Heat leading the Chicago Bulls 2-1.

If the Mavericks and Heat do end up doing it all over again, we’ll have plenty of time to dissect that matchup on the next episode of the Hang Time Podcast. But we’ve got something a little different for you this week on Episode 57, what with coaching searches going on in places like Los Angeles, Houston and Indiana and the NBA Draft just a few short weeks away.

Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle joined us to discuss the Rockets’ opening and where former Rockets coach Rick Adelman might land (reports have him at the top of the Lakers’ wish list). We also picked the brain of NBA.com’s Scott Howard Cooper, HT’s West Coast Bureau Chief and also NBA.com’s draft guru (who has peculiar love jones for Oklahoma City).

Feigen also updated us on Yao Ming‘s status and what’s in store for a Rockets team that finished ninth in the Western Conference this season, just behind the Hang Time Grizzlies for that eighth and final playoff spot.

Howard Cooper schooled on us on who impressed (Enes Kanter‘s name came up) during the Chicago predraft camp as well as names we need to focus on come draft night. But don’t just take our word for it, check out Episode 57 of the Hang Time Podcast for yourself.

LISTEN HERE:

As always, we welcome your feedback. You can follow the entire crew, including the Hang Time Podcast, co-hosts Lang Whitaker of SLAM Magazine and Sekou Smith of NBA.com, as well as our super producer Micah Hart of NBA.com’s All Ball Blog.

– To download the podcast, click here. To subscribe via iTunes, click here, or get the xml feed if you want to subscribe some other, less iTunes-y way.

About Last Night: Jazz Do It Again

HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS – The Utah Jazz made some comeback magic for the second straight night and John Wall showed off a little triple double wizardry of his own before the Magic Man himself.

We’re only three weeks into this marathon but it’s clear we were right about this being the most anticipated season in years, for all the reasons you see on a nightly basis.

Don’t just take our word for it, take a couple of minutes (with the Daily Zap) and see for yourself:

The Top 10, complete with the vocal stylings of our main man Kyle Montgomery, is yet more proof that you’re seeing things this season you never have before:

Wall’s first triple double was historic (he’s the third youngest player in league history to do it) in addition to being filled with sick highlights. Here he is talking to the Game Time crew about his huge night:

Not all the news Wednesday night was good.

In that same Wizards game Yao Ming limped off the floor in the first quarter with a strained tendon in his left leg, the same injured leg that cost him all of last season. The details of the severity of his latest injury won’t be known until later today.

But Yao did not seem “optimistic,” per Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle, who detailed the Rockets’ breakdown and sixth loss like this:

After taking their last lead midway through the fourth quarter, they gave up a 10-0 run in which they missed all four of their shots, had five turnovers and surrendered three offensive boards with the Wizards scoring on them all.

That’s how you lose to the Wizards, and not terribly different from how they lost to the Lakers, Warriors, Nuggets and Hornets.

“You get paid to make plays,” Rockets coach Rick Adelman said. “Our guys, we got to make plays. With the game on the line, you have to find people who can do that. Right now, we’re searching for it. It’s not happening.”

Yao of course could be the Rockets’ closer, at least on the offensive end. He didn’t look like it on Wednesday. He did not take one shot in his six minutes. But he has that ability.

Now, the Rockets don’t know if they have him.

They won without him last year, but don’t know how to win this season.

Most NBA games are close in the fourth quarter. That’s when teams are defined and revealed, and the Rockets have been exposed. They are 1-6 for a reason and it’s not because Yao Ming limped off in the first quarter. That just made the latest loss hurt just a bit more.

Ouch!

Stay tuned for more details on Yao later.

*** Check back later for a complete breakdown of all 10 of Tuesday night’s game in our weekly edition of Did You See What We Saw? ***