SportsCastr • What's Next for the Houston Rockets? w/ Salman Ali of ESPN975
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What's Next for the Houston Rockets? w/ Salman Ali of ESPN975
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00:00:06
Mhm.
00:00:25
Mhm.
00:00:26
All right, you'll see this.
00:00:27
Playing it back.
00:00:28
We have a snazzy little intro.
00:00:30
Now welcome back to basketball and more with your host, Matt Brooks.
00:00:35
This is, of course, a SportsCastr official.
00:00:37
Vaud cast.
00:00:38
I am joined by Salman Ali of ESPN, 9753 curator of the state of the Rockets newsletter and host of the Red, The Red Nation Hoops Podcasts.
00:00:50
You're a very busy man.
00:00:51
Got many, many bylines all over the place.
00:00:54
How are you? How's this week been? It's been pretty crazy.
00:00:58
Uh, this is the third show I've been on this week.
00:01:01
I've had to answer a lot of questions about what the Rockets air doing.
00:01:04
What the Rockets are not doing.
00:01:07
It's been a lot.
00:01:08
It's been a lot, but I knew this was gonna be a crazy offseason.
00:01:11
Judging by the 1st 24 off the 24 hours when Mike D'Antoni stepped away on, they had to start the coaching search.
00:01:18
But I did not expect it to be to go like this.
00:01:21
Agreed? No, I I agree.
00:01:23
And I think one of the things that that I'm really interested about is that I I mean, look like the one of the things that I think is like is really crazy about a lot of this.
00:01:37
Is that like when we last broadcasted, we were basically talking about like, Oh, could the Rockets went in six or seven and now we're having a conversation with no general manager and no coach s.
00:01:49
Oh, I just think that's a crazy happenstance.
00:01:54
And first off, how plugged in are you with all this? Do you have any idea of, like, what's gonna happen next for them? So they're down to three finalists, and my sense is nothing to really change their I.
00:02:03
I know a lot of people gonna try to dig into the weeds at this point, but really like it's up, they just have to pick one.
00:02:09
It's gonna be either Stephen Silas, Jeff Van Gundy or John Lucas.
00:02:14
John Lucas is a really close relationship with the team.
00:02:17
When his name was first brought up, I wrote in my newsletter.
00:02:20
Do not underestimate this guy.
00:02:21
Like I I know.
00:02:22
Ah, lot of people thought that that was kind of a throwaway interview.
00:02:25
That was not a throwaway interview.
00:02:26
When his name got brought up.
00:02:27
I knew right away.
00:02:28
They were serious about it.
00:02:30
Um, he's really close to everybody on that team.
00:02:32
Hey, knows the roster inside and out.
00:02:34
Hey knows the way they like to play.
00:02:37
He's done with the team for a couple for a few years now.
00:02:40
Um, he's smarter than like I don't know what's going on a Rocket Twitter.
00:02:44
People are just panicking at the idea of John Lucas being hired.
00:02:47
And I'm just, like, calm down.
00:02:49
First of all, if if he gets hired, that's probably a chance, a sign of continuity, because that's That's the coat that's been on your staff for the past few years.
00:02:59
That also signals that they're probably not gonna make many staff changes because a lot of that staff is gonna carry over.
00:03:05
You know, you're talking about Matt Bradley coming back.
00:03:08
You're talking about Brad.
00:03:09
Gunning is kind of back, so they're probably gonna play the same way.
00:03:11
Um, and it just it just looks like more of the same if they hired John Lucas.
00:03:16
Now, maybe if you're not a fan of more of the same, that can panic you.
00:03:20
But my sense is that if they bring John Lucas and not much is really going to change if they bring in all of these other coaches.
00:03:29
I think I think they're gonna have a similar mindset in terms of how they wanna play.
00:03:34
But perhaps there's gonna be some tweaking going around around the edges.
00:03:37
Yeah, no, I think like I mean look like when we talked even last last time, we were kind of talking about, like how you didn't feel like they were going to shift their identity at all, no matter what happened.
00:03:47
And it kind of sounds like you're still in that camp, even when I mean it's happened.
00:03:51
I mean, let's just look at the roster.
00:03:53
They have Russell Westbrook and James Harden like they need floor spacing on the floor.
00:03:57
And when you have Russell Westbrook, it just shrinks the floor to a level that it's hard to sustain.
00:04:02
If you have a traditional big man, uh, maybe they bring in a traditional big man to bring off the bench so they can run a little bit more pick and roll with James Harden because because they haven't had that element in a while.
00:04:12
Uh, but in terms of like how they're gonna play with their starters and probably for 70% of the game.
00:04:18
Yeah, they're gonna play microbe all.
00:04:19
They're gonna have a small ball center.
00:04:22
Andi.
00:04:23
Perhaps they bring in some bigger players.
00:04:25
You know, maybe instead of a 65 p.
00:04:27
J.
00:04:28
Tucker, you're bringing someone that's maybe 6768 But you're not going to see a seven footer.
00:04:31
It's gonna be some more of the same, I would imagine no centers at all. None.
00:04:36
Or do you think they'll be like, Yeah, they might bring in one for off the bench purposes.
00:04:42
So when Russ is on the bench, they and hardens on the floor.
00:04:45
They can run some traditional pick and roll, right, because they haven't had that in their offense in a while, and they need some more dynamism on the offensive end.
00:04:54
So if it is more of the same, they need to find some more player movement, some more ball movement.
00:04:59
Because in the playoffs, I track this that I wrote about this in my newsletter, their play, their regular season offenses up here and their playoff offenses, like right down here in the middle, and people listen to podcast.
00:05:11
I'm my hand, my left hand is on eyes on the higher end and my right hand on the on the middle of the pack right there.
00:05:16
So basically they get a decent chunk worse once they get to the postseason.
00:05:23
And, you know, obviously they're playing better.
00:05:25
Defense is, but not that much better that they're crunch time offense takes a bit of a hit on.
00:05:31
I think it's because teams kind of figure them out.
00:05:34
They see they see the Isil ball.
00:05:36
They see uh, James hard with the space floor and they game plan for it for a seven game Siri's.
00:05:43
And it's just easier to defend the more and more you see it.
00:05:46
So they have to figure out some stuff to make themselves less predict, predictable.
00:05:51
But I don't think in terms of roster identity, they're gonna change them much.
00:05:55
I think perhaps in terms of offensive identity besides the Isil ball, they're gonna add some stuff in.
00:06:02
But whoever they hire, I don't think I don't get the sense that they're going to change much.
00:06:08
So you've mentioned that one of the things they could do is trade out a couple of 68 guy or trade in for a couple of taller players.
00:06:15
Maybe not like full size centers.
00:06:17
What does that? Does that mean anything for the group of house, Covington or Tucker? Do you think any of those guys they're moved? Because that's that's what I wanted to start off and talk to you about? Sure, you've been asked that quite a bit, but I think it z interesting.
00:06:32
So if you were to lock in like a few guys before the season, obviously you lock in.
00:06:36
James Harden obviously lock in rust.
00:06:38
I think the two guys after that, I would say a probably locked in our Robert Covington and P.
00:06:44
J.
00:06:45
Tucker because first of all, Tucker is just crazy value contract.
00:06:49
I don't get the sense that they would want to trade that any work so well with the Rockets want to do on both ends of the floor.
00:06:54
He spaces the floor a decent chunk, and he switches one through five on.
00:07:00
He's the only guy on the on the floor.
00:07:02
We can rebound or box out.
00:07:04
Ah, good amount.
00:07:06
So I would say he probably stays and Robert Covington, I mean, they traded from this year for a reason.
00:07:12
They I think they see him as a future peace move forward.
00:07:15
At least for the next two years.
00:07:17
I e I don't see them moving off of them after just trading for him.
00:07:20
And do you feel like that was more of a Mauri move, though, Like, do you think that or or is that just like the top to bottom? The organization is like, enamored with Covington.
00:07:30
So Jonathan Fig and actually wrote about the negotiations.
00:07:33
Robert, coming today, it seems like Rafael Stone, the new general manager right now was a part of that.
00:07:39
He played a part in the negotiations.
00:07:41
Hey, also wanted to bring in a traditional big man, so I don't know what that what that portends for them this summer.
00:07:46
Like maybe he tries to sneak in another additional big men like, um, you know, maybe get a cheaper, uh, guy than Clint Capela.
00:07:54
We could do some of the same stuff to come off the bench. Maybe.
00:07:57
Maybe that's something they want to do.
00:07:59
But I think my my sense is that Rafael Stone was also a part of that decision.
00:08:04
So I think this was something they front office down.
00:08:08
They thought about that.
00:08:09
They thought about the decision as a group.
00:08:12
Um, that's interesting, because, I mean, I So does that kind of leave house out? Is that the guy you think might be moved? So the reason I left house out is basically how it's because of how the bubble ended.
00:08:26
Uh, that was Yeah, that's the kind of thing where, like, you just don't get of sense.
00:08:33
Like, here's the thing.
00:08:35
I was in the locker room and neither was anybody else.
00:08:38
So nobody really knows how that affects the locker room locker room dynamics.
00:08:41
You know, just how it really ended for him and getting suspended like that.
00:08:45
Uh, but it can't be good, right? Like, it can't be good for a guy like that, you know, do something so selfish and, you know, get kicked out of the bubble like that.
00:08:55
I I don't think that that's that's a good thing for his future on the team.
00:08:59
But, um, you know, I don't know.
00:09:01
Maybe he's smoothing some things out.
00:09:05
We we have no idea.
00:09:07
But he I would I would not count him safe at all.
00:09:10
I would not say Eric Gordon is safe at all because of just how poorly he performed this year.
00:09:15
But here's the thing with Eric Gordon.
00:09:17
I'm not sure who's gonna take on that contract, especially after they give him the extension.
00:09:21
Yeah, especially after they've given the extension.
00:09:23
So they may just have to hope and pray that he plays better because they need good Eric Gordon to play at their best.
00:09:32
I mean, it's been written about a bunch.
00:09:34
I podcast it about it like good Eric Gordon unlocked.
00:09:37
So much for them on the floor offensively and defensively.
00:09:41
And they just lacked that this year.
00:09:44
And, you know, perhaps because of the injuries he had his knee drained mid season.
00:09:48
And he also had problems with the NEA towards you had this season.
00:09:52
So I don't know, you know, like I don't I don't know how he's gonna look going into next season on Lee.
00:09:58
He knows how he feels.
00:10:00
Uh, but I I get the sense that they have They might have no other choice but to keep them.
00:10:06
So when you're talking about improving the roster, you're really talking about signing guys because you, in terms of your trade flexibility, I mean, you're not gonna trade.
00:10:17
James Harden.
00:10:18
You're not gonna trade Russell Westbrook because you probably can't seem like Eric Gordon.
00:10:22
Uh, and Robert Covington his his value to the team.
00:10:26
What they want to do is just so invaluable that you don't want to trade Robert cover the same thing with P.
00:10:31
J.
00:10:32
Tucker.
00:10:33
So those four guys aren't getting traded.
00:10:34
Uh, perhaps you could move Daniel House.
00:10:36
You know, that's a guy I would say you could maybe move.
00:10:39
Um, and Eric Gordon.
00:10:41
I'm not sure if you can move them.
00:10:43
So what? You're really your your tools in the tool in the tool chest right now.
00:10:47
Are are you going to spend that non taxpayer midlevel exception and go into the luxury tax? That's the big question for owner Tilman Fertitta right now, right? He's been talking about how he's been talking about money isn't an object for him, right? And you know, we've We've all read what's been going on with this finances.
00:11:02
He's been hit hard, you know, with not not only the pandemic, but I mean, his casinos in Lake Charles is taking a hit because of the storms that have, you know, hit that area.
00:11:12
So I imagine his pocketbook is hurting.
00:11:17
But here's the thing.
00:11:18
When you own a team that's on the brink of contender ship, it doesn't really matter.
00:11:22
The fans are still gonna hold you to account.
00:11:25
So that's the big question.
00:11:28
Whether or not they spend that non taxpayer mid level exception or whether they find a way to skirt that again this year and use their taxpayer by local exception and find some cheaper options.
00:11:37
And if that's the case, I don't I don't see them getting much better next year.
00:11:41
Like, you know, there's still be a very good team because of you know they have James Harden, P. J. Tucker.
00:11:47
You know Russell Westbrook and Robert Covington.
00:11:51
But if you can improve around the edges to a significant amount bye bye, paying that luxury tax and spending the non taxpayer midlevel exception, you can't improve the roster that much because the players you can get for a non taxpayer with the exception are just so few and far between.
00:12:09
And this is gonna be a competitive marketplace because there are not a lot of top line free agents.
00:12:14
All the top teams they're targeting these guys, so you need guys.
00:12:19
Right? Right. Exactly.
00:12:21
Like everybody wants Jae Crowder.
00:12:22
You're not team that wants Jae Crowder, right? So you're gonna have to pony up and at least have your best your best weapon at the table to compete with these teams that if you show up to the table with a non taxpayer little exception, the screens are gonna laugh you off, and you're gonna have to go bargain bin shopping and and hope you find your next Ben McLemore.
00:12:43
Would you take Jared Allen for Daniel House if I'm Houston, Jared Allen? Um, maybe.
00:12:51
I mean, here's the thing.
00:12:53
Like, I don't think they're straying away from micro ball.
00:12:55
And if you do that move, that means you're straying away from micro ball.
00:12:59
Jared Allen is not gonna come off the bench, right? And my sense is he doesn't want to come off the bench in Brooklyn, even though, uh, it seems like the team dynamic suggests that he's probably gonna come off the bench for next year in Brooklyn.
00:13:11
Um, but yeah, I mean, I get the sense if they do that kind of a move, Uh, that means the thinking in that front office has changed significantly from last.
00:13:21
I've heard.
00:13:22
Okay, so No, no, no Covington.
00:13:25
No Tucker.
00:13:26
No house.
00:13:27
I was trying to figure out angles for us.
00:13:28
Toe Figure something out.
00:13:31
You're trying to say that one of these guys, that's what I'm looking at.
00:13:35
Now that I mean, that's that's all the Nets need.
00:13:36
They just need, like, a wing.
00:13:38
And like, if that was like I mean, Tucker would be like a dream.
00:13:41
I mean, who wouldn't want P.
00:13:43
J.
00:13:44
Tucker on their team? One other team that needs a wing every n B A continued s.
00:13:48
Oh, yeah, No, it's funny.
00:13:50
It's like every team is like, Oh, we should get a wing, which is already a hard position to find.
00:13:54
But we also want somebody that can guard, You know, Anthony Davis, which is like, Okay, that's also that's that's not gonna happen, right? Which is it's so strange because, like the Lakers won this title without a dearth of wings, we haven't seen that in a while, right.
00:14:09
And that's kind of why I was so skeptical of them, especially after they lost every Bradley.
00:14:13
And, you know, maybe that poor tell something in terms of how basketball is gonna be played moving forward like, you know, I think I think last time I was on your show, it might have been your show.
00:14:22
Where we talked about drop back defense is and whether or not that can succeed in the modern NBA and whether or not the n b A is gonna get to ****geneous.
00:14:30
And I think it's a good thing that the Lakers won the title because that that says that most multiple styles can win titles.
00:14:37
That makes me feel good.
00:14:38
That makes me feel good that you can win a title because it didn't look that way for the first two rounds.
00:14:42
It was kind of like Okay, I'm not sure if this is like a viable solution.
00:14:46
The Bucks, completely just, like, dissipated into nothingness.
00:14:49
Like they That's a team that's like that just is predicated on drop back and encouraging, you know, mid range shots.
00:14:55
But, I mean, it's nice.
00:14:57
I mean, again, playoffs is all matchups.
00:14:59
It's all about a t end of the day.
00:15:01
It really is just all about talent and things coming together at the right time.
00:15:05
So it's a good thing, though, like I'm very happy about it like we.
00:15:08
As much as we were excited for the idea of an upset, the silver lining is that we aren't going to get a lead that's so ****geneous where it's like Okay, it's like Onley small ball teams with as many shooters on the floor is possible.
00:15:21
I still think there will be teams that will go out there like this Rockets team.
00:15:24
It sounds like and do that again.
00:15:26
But it is a nice kind of refreshing aspect to this.
00:15:29
Um, let's talk. So free agents.
00:15:33
Do you have anybody circled, Weaken, do some of the major names there, anybody that you kind of look down that list and said, Hey, this actually might be a pretty sweet option for the Rockets at all.
00:15:44
So let's talk about the fridge.
00:15:45
They might lose, right? So I think I think Austin Rivers, a guy you probably figure is probably gonna leave because I don't I don't think I mean, he has a player option right now, and he's kind of got lost in the shuffle of that guard rotation over the past couple of years.
00:16:00
Like he plays his best basketball when somebody is injured and that's not a good thing for him personally.
00:16:05
It's a good thing for the Rockets because they have that luxury.
00:16:07
But I don't think I think Austin Rivers seas more for himself.
00:16:12
He's talked publicly about how he feels he could do more for another team.
00:16:15
So I think Austin Rivers probably gonna be out.
00:16:17
Jeff Green is a guy who I think, uh, you know, very interesting.
00:16:22
Jeff Green situation is very interesting.
00:16:24
See, like you always see this right one team finds a way to, ah, smart team finds a way to unlock this role player that that not many teams saw much in.
00:16:34
And then every other team in the N B A is like, Oh, we gotta hop on this.
00:16:37
So if we have to go so I think there's gonna be a lot of interest for Jeff Green.
00:16:40
So I think that the player they wanna keep, But I'm not sure if they're gonna if they're gonna have the tools to keep them, we'll see.
00:16:46
I mean, I'm not sure what is Mark is gonna look like, because again, this market is super weird and that there is no top end talent to balance everything out.
00:16:54
So he might be someone who gets overpaid.
00:16:56
But if you can keep him, you'd like to keep him.
00:16:59
And at that point, you try to target the leftover wings, right? Like if you can keep Daniel House, then you're still you're You're in a pretty good position, wing wise, because then you have Robert Covington, P.
00:17:09
J.
00:17:10
Tucker and Daniel House coming back, right? And Eric Gordon, if, uh if he plays like Eric Gordon, right, so then you really only need to chase like one wing, right? And then you can you can find a way to use that mid level exception toe snack, somebody of quality.
00:17:25
And you don't really need to stack someone of, like, top top end quality at that point because you already have these top end wins on your roster.
00:17:32
But you can snack someone who you know who can play give you 15 to 20 minutes a game, right? Like someone like, uh, Luc Mbah a Moute gave the rockets two years ago, right? If you could get someone like that, that's the kind of wing you were targeted for, Houston.
00:17:47
And maybe it is looking about moody.
00:17:48
Who knows? I mean, he played with the team at the end of this season, and it seems like he's working out in Houston.
00:17:54
So, uh, you know, maybe he returns next year and looks more like himself.
00:17:59
He struggled the injuries the past few years so that, you know, Gerald Greens, another guy that they might tried to bring back.
00:18:07
I mean, they really did not want to trade him.
00:18:09
I mean, he really he broke his foot and they had no choice.
00:18:12
So that's another guy I suspect they tried to bring back.
00:18:16
So it's gonna be interesting because they have a lot of good wings, and really, they What they need is someone who can play four and five really well and defend really well that position at four and five, and that kind of wing is so highly coveted.
00:18:32
I'm not sure if they're going to get that guy, but maybe they could get some one of, you know, just a run down of quality and fill in the holes and kind of call it together, decent defense and then get to mid season.
00:18:45
And then maybe you could do something on the buyout market.
00:18:48
Yeah, it's kind of funny, like If you look, I feel like they're in a weird position where they might as well keep everybody that they have, because I don't know if they're going to just be looking to replace those positions like they're just gonna end up with worse players.
00:19:02
So it's kind of like if they're just, I do kind of feel like the Rockets are a little stuck in what they're doing now.
00:19:10
Things can shake out.
00:19:11
They might just hit a more favorable matchup. Maybe.
00:19:14
I mean, look, I don't know how optimistic are you feeling about the Westbrook Harden thing in Year two? Um, so it's not.
00:19:21
It's not ideal fit, right? Like the ideal fit next to Harden is a point guard who could defend and hit threes and and handle the ball a little bit, right? Like Westbrook is missing two of those qualities, right? So, uh, the rockets have done a good job of compensating for that by doing that.
00:19:37
Clint Capela trade right and playing micro ball.
00:19:40
But you are compensating for that.
00:19:41
Which tells you it's not an ideal fit.
00:19:44
So, um, I don't know, like I have to question every few days, like is you know.
00:19:50
Is Westbrook good enough to be the second best player on the team anymore? I don't know.
00:19:54
You know, like that.
00:19:55
Who knows what the answer to that is like what, Author? That question to you? Do you think Westbrook's good enough to be the second best player on a title contender? I've been I've been out on Westbrook for, like, 22 plus years.
00:20:07
Even this year, I was kind of like All right, like, this is great.
00:20:09
I just want to see it in the playoffs because I feel like we run into the same thing every year.
00:20:13
Now, this year, I think, was a little different because he just he dealt with so much.
00:20:18
Yeah, he had coded.
00:20:19
He had Quadri, right? He had a bunch of stuff, but, like, I can give him the benefit of that.
00:20:25
And hold on.
00:20:26
I just wanna Aaron, I just wanna air grievance here because I I asked Westbrook about this, right.
00:20:31
And and then and then he did the Westbrook thing.
00:20:33
He shut me down.
00:20:34
So what am I? What am I supposed todo right? So I'm like, Okay, I'm just gonna assume he's healthy.
00:20:39
And if he's healthy.
00:20:41
I'm gonna criticize him because he's playing like crap, right? And like this.
00:20:45
And then after immediately after the season, he comes out, It's like, Yeah, I definitely 100%.
00:20:49
Well, I literally asked you, are you 100% you could have told and, you know, you know, maybe that was some gamesmanship.
00:20:55
I don't know.
00:20:56
Like I don't wanna hijack your podcast where Jack away.
00:20:59
This is No, it just bothered me. It just bothered.
00:21:04
Yeah.
00:21:05
No, I mean, it's always the, like, retroactive, like, Oh, actually, I wasn't all that good like that.
00:21:11
Uh, but I also think like, sure, like, there actually might have been a case that he wasn't ah, 100%.
00:21:18
Because a lot of the stuff that e you looked at a rhythm, but eventually it's like, I how long are we going to give you the algorithm excuse? Really? Like in terms of how many games that took him to, like, find his It was just like, you know, it was really hit or miss, and I just kind of feel like that's the story for him since, really, since Durant left the case for Westbrook is that stretch before like after the All Star break.
00:21:43
You know, basically right before the right before the bubble stopped.
00:21:46
Right, right, right before the season stop.
00:21:48
Sorry that that's that's two months stretch where he was averaging, like 30 10 and five or whatever and on good efficiency for him.
00:21:56
That's the case for Westbrook, right? Like if you can get more of that at the start of next season, if he's more comfortable starting next season, playing like that since they're starting with Micro Ball, that's the case for him.
00:22:07
Maybe maybe he Maybe he plays more of like that for the, you know, for most of next season, instead of like a small chunk.
00:22:15
So I don't know.
00:22:16
I I think I think Westbrook played better than he did in the prior year.
00:22:21
But I'm not sure if that Z, you know, good, necessary.
00:22:24
Like I'm not sure if that's good enough to be the second best player on the title team, and that that that question still up in the air, that and you know, I think going into next season the Rockets are probably gonna be a very good team.
00:22:36
But again, there's gonna be a bunch of very good team in the Western Conference.
00:22:39
Denver is gonna be good, I think.
00:22:42
I think the pelicans, because they just hired Stan Van Gundy.
00:22:44
They're gonna be e Denver thing, right? Yeah.
00:22:48
E right there.
00:22:51
I don't know why people just thought the Clippers, we're gonna roll over.
00:22:55
The Clippers didn't roll over anybody all season.
00:22:58
It and we were just doing every year, though.
00:23:00
There's always one team that we just like.
00:23:02
We have our Maybe there's a me thing.
00:23:04
We have the biases where we just look like preseason hype.
00:23:07
We just refused to accept it.
00:23:09
If I was in on the Clippers to write like like I expected that to be, Ah, Clippers win.
00:23:15
I just I just thought it was gonna be a closer Siris of what people were predicting.
00:23:18
And I thought the Clippers were gonna, you know, go to the Western Conference finals, compete with the Lakers, probably make it to the Finals like they were my title pick.
00:23:26
But I definitely thought people were sleeping on the Nuggets there, and so they're gonna be good.
00:23:31
Next year is my point.
00:23:32
The Mavericks, they're gonna be much improved next season.
00:23:35
I really do think, Uh, offensively, they're gonna be awesome. Defensively.
00:23:40
I think they're gonna be much better because they're gonna have a full season of poor Zynga's.
00:23:44
And they get they get the offseason to scour for parts.
00:23:48
Right? And I don't I don't think they're gonna use too much cap space, right, Because they want to reserve that 2021 space for Yannis.
00:23:54
Right? Who is it, right? Yeah, but Alice, the legit team that might actually have a chance to land him so scary.
00:24:02
Yeah, So I don't think they're gonna use that much cap space, But that doesn't mean I don't think they're gonna sign good one year deal.
00:24:07
So that that that's gonna be something to watch for Dallas.
00:24:09
What kind of one year deals can they get? And then, you know, next year they got that they got that captures.
00:24:14
Like what? Players willing to sign with Dallas for a one year deal instead of instead of stability, Especially during these pandemic times.
00:24:21
You know, God knows what agents are telling their players right now about flexibility and being pragmatic about your contract.
00:24:28
Yeah, I'm really curious to see.
00:24:29
Like what? What we How How Players handle it like, are we looking at just a bunch of one year deals and it just kind of rolls.
00:24:37
And when we have this bloated 2021 class, our guys just gonna be like, Hey, like, I'm you know, I don't know.
00:24:42
I'm just in holiday and I want to just take the 10 million Emily that I'm going to get from whatever team.
00:24:49
I'm curious.
00:24:50
I don't know.
00:24:51
It will be a really interesting year.
00:24:52
I don't remember a year like this where it's just I mean, I mean for obvious reasons.
00:24:56
But just in terms of all the teams that have this Emily, and that's pretty much about it or if it's even a mini Emily.
00:25:03
Um, so that's kind of what I'm I'm interested in with next year.
00:25:08
Who do you have in terms off like teams that you would have ahead of the, I guess.
00:25:16
I guess both.
00:25:17
Well, what really like ahead of the Rockets this year? I have the Lakers for sure at the Clippers ahead of the Rockets and the Nuggets.
00:25:26
I would say get the leg up on the Rockets just cause I had they performed last season, so I think.
00:25:30
I think those are the four.
00:25:32
Those are the three teams I would definitely have above the Rockets after that.
00:25:36
The Western Conference is deep, but I don't think there it's particularly top heavy after that.
00:25:40
So I think the Rockets are competing with that tear of team.
00:25:43
So I think they're just a step below that tear, which is, uh, you know not where you wanna be, But you're still in a good position to maybe upset somebody so that the Rockets will you have tow optimize this offseason is my co point here, right? Because, like, I think they're pretty solidly locked in.
00:25:59
Like we say, they're stuck.
00:26:00
They're stuck in a good position, but they're still stuck, right? So they need to find ways to incrementally improve the roster to get better defensively.
00:26:08
Really, like that's what we're That's really what we're skating around, right? They were 15th and defense last year, 17th year before that.
00:26:15
That's what that's what's what's holding them back.
00:26:17
That and their playoff offense, which is gonna be something that you coaching staff has to figure out.
00:26:22
But, um, their defense has to get better, which means they need better parts and their offense needs to get better, which means they need better coaching.
00:26:29
So it's gonna That's gonna be the issues they have to resolve this off season.
00:26:33
How do you resolve the defense thing? Is there anybody that sticks out like a player in particular is there just isn't gonna be the Jae crowder that everybody seems to be talking about.
00:26:43
Yeah.
00:26:44
I mean, I didn't want to say Jae Crowder's name twice, but yeah, you have to like, that's the kind of guy you have to get. Right.
00:26:50
Um, and it's gonna be tough again, because I think first of all, he has a good case to stay in Miami, right? Like, my like, why would you not want to stay in Miami like Miami put together as good of a case toe? Want to stay there as you possibly can, And, uh, and and there's gonna be a lot of teams that want Jake crowd like the Lakers.
00:27:09
They're gonna be a team that that messes up a lot of teams plants, right? Like like a lot of freedom.
00:27:15
They're gonna want to go to l.
00:27:16
A.
00:27:17
Like the historically always have been, uh and, uh, that's gonna be a team you have to compete against.
00:27:21
And the case the Rockets have to offer is perhaps playing time, like you're gonna get more playing time on the Rockets than maybe in Los Angeles.
00:27:29
And that that's really what you got, show free agents, potentially and potentially.
00:27:35
I don't know, though it really depends on how much the Lakers shake things up.
00:27:40
I have no idea.
00:27:41
I mean, there's a lot of guys I think they were on the Rockets that I think could have played on this Lakers team like so I don't know.
00:27:47
It will be interesting next.
00:27:49
The one thing that seems almost unfair is that they have the full Emily, which is just like, I'm just I can't even believe that when I saw that on and they have the audacity to contest the luau dating things like Don't get me wrong like like oh, I know like you should do it if you're if you're a general manager like you should definitely try doing stuff like that.
00:28:09
But if the league grants from this, there's gonna be a lot of up.
00:28:12
Or especially from a team like the Rockets who tried to do this clever thing with a calf last year when the nays contract and the league rejected it.
00:28:19
So what they tried to do last year was they tried to sign Nanny to a two year deal.
00:28:23
That first year didn't really hit their cap that hard.
00:28:26
But it was.
00:28:27
It was a bunch of non guaranteed incentives that he was not gonna hit.
00:28:31
It was like a bunch of playing time incentives.
00:28:33
You had to get a bunch of rebounds or whatever, like he was not gonna hit these incentives.
00:28:37
But they're in there right there as a team.
00:28:40
They're within their right to do that kind of stuff.
00:28:42
And the league rejected it because they knew they were trying to set up themselves for basically a steal of, ah trade deadline kind of move right.
00:28:50
They were gonna flip that in a contract with some draft picks to get someone like Robert Covington, Frank like that.
00:28:55
That that was how high the salary went up to.
00:28:57
So but the league rejected that contract and if they if they if they managed to get the Grant, the Lakers, this teams like the Rockets seems like the Mavericks teams like that that anyone who has any bone to pick with the league about stuff rulings that they have made in regards salary cap are gonna come out of the woodwork and just flame the Lakers.
00:29:17
Right? And they may not say it publicly, but the league office is gonna hear about it.
00:29:21
So I wonder if that's in their calculation as to whether or not they grab this for the Lakers like Luol Deng thing is gonna be really fascinating to keep an eye on.
00:29:29
Yeah, I don't I can't even remember.
00:29:30
I'm trying to think of a time in recent history where that happened, where you have a team that's going to tryto figure e guess.
00:29:36
I guess you could look it like the This is on such a lower scale.
00:29:40
But Golden State taking advantage of the of the salary the way they did and bring in Durant.
00:29:45
But I don't I mean, this is different.
00:29:47
Like this is going to cause a bunch of teams to, you know, I guess on the league office about this I will say this If you're a Lakers fan that had questions about Rob Pelinka like the fact that he's trying something like this makes you feel a little bit better, right? The fact the fact, Yeah, the fact that he has, for the foresight to do something like this.
00:30:04
Uh, you know, I was someone who was skeptical of Rob Pelinka.
00:30:07
But, like like, this is something that makes me a little bit more impressed about.
00:30:10
It is It's shady as hell, but the best general managers do stuff that's shady is how sure? Yeah.
00:30:16
No.
00:30:17
And I mean, compared to, like, cup check who would, like wait till, like, absolutely when free agency starts.
00:30:21
He was like, I'm sorry.
00:30:22
Well, not tamper with the Lakers air.
00:30:26
Still complaining about those that Steve Nash straight till this day.
00:30:28
They want those pigs back, but yeah, there you go.
00:30:32
They got their payback? Yeah, the glue holding, Um What? So for coaching.
00:30:40
I'm gonna switch back this a little bit if they don't go with Lucas, which it sounds like you're pretty confident.
00:30:44
What percentage would you say? You have confidence and that that may or may not happen? I I think so.
00:30:50
I think I don't think Lucas is that necessarily the front runner.
00:30:54
I think he's one of two.
00:30:55
I think it is gonna be Lucas or Van Gundy.
00:30:57
I don't have much confidence that they're gonna pick a head coach without, you know, much head coaching experience or actually any head coaching experience in Stephen Silas.
00:31:04
So I think it's gonna be between those two that I mean with Jeff Van Gundy.
00:31:09
There's just been so much smoke over the past four years.
00:31:12
Every time the Rockets have a coach opening, Jeff Van Gundy's name gets brought up and you know the ties to organization.
00:31:18
Are there the Thais, the city are there. He lives in Houston.
00:31:22
Hey, loves the City, talks about Houston all the time on N B.
00:31:25
A broadcast like, uh, to a point where almost gets annoying, right? Like like he is Houston through it through.
00:31:32
He's a Texans fan, uh, right, and so, like he would want if he wanted to come back in the N.
00:31:38
B.
00:31:39
This is the kind of job you want rights a ready made contender for you.
00:31:42
Um, and it's It's a place where you're already You don't have to move.
00:31:45
You don't have to uproot your family.
00:31:46
Your family is already, by the way, like the reason Jeff Van Gundy turned down a bunch of jobs.
00:31:51
First of all, he had a cozy job in a Be at ABC, right? Like I think, people just assumed that Jeff Van Gundy wasn't getting called and Gandhi was getting calls.
00:31:59
He was.
00:32:00
He was just turning them down, left and right, because he was like, No, I want to kind of raise my daughters and live in Houston and enjoy this cushy job like, Why would I? Why would I leave? Like I'm getting paid? Well here.
00:32:10
I'm doing what I want to do, and I'm around my friends and family.
00:32:14
I don't I don't want to go back to that hellhole of coaching.
00:32:17
And this is the kind of job where you can do that and still be near your family.
00:32:21
So I would say Jeff Van Gundy and John Lucas, or probably a toss up As far as I think, it would really surprise me if the pick Silas at this point okay, any other stealth options? Or do you think it's really just those two and that's it? No, I'd be interested in even well so I I don't know why they didn't interview Chris Finch because This was the team that discovered Chris Finch right in Germany, and they brought him up through the ranks through their D League system through, um, their head coaching ranks.
00:32:50
He was he At one point, he became chemicals lead assistant, and the fact that they didn't contact him was strange.
00:32:58
It's just strange they didn't interview him at all.
00:33:00
Um, and you know, Kenny Atkinson is a guy I thought would be in the finalist of this for this job.
00:33:07
It's a little strange he's not there, either.
00:33:09
But I guess that really tells you how much they really like Silas.
00:33:13
Like it z It is crazy.
00:33:15
He's been a finalist for this job twice.
00:33:17
Now, I would hate to be him and be burned by the rockets again.
00:33:21
Um, but yeah, I mean, it's gonna be one of those two coaches I would say.
00:33:27
Okay, cool.
00:33:28
There you go.
00:33:29
Um, let's talk about a little more light hearted subject for we close out and I'll let you plug away anything.
00:33:34
What would you say? The legacy? Because there's been a lot of legacy conversation about Maury, about D'Antoni.
00:33:41
What? We're like key stories, moments that you really think of the defined both of them, them individually believe in this wide open for you.
00:33:51
Oh, man, that's That's a really broad question you give me.
00:33:54
Give me both D'Antoni and Maury.
00:33:56
Let's start with Maury Lett's story that you think of when, if you're looking back fondly on the more era.
00:34:04
So the more E era really starts and ends with the 2012 offseason because that was the culmination of what he had done for five years, right? He got the job in 2007.
00:34:14
Uh, the first big decision he made was was firing Jeff Van Gundy right and trying to retool around Yao Ming and Tracy McGrady.
00:34:23
Hiring work out of it and then, after, you know, toying away mediocrity after Yao Ming and Tracy McGrady retired like he was slowly behind the scenes just kind of flipping, flipping $75.
00:34:34
75 pieces for a dollar pieces over and over again.
00:34:38
He was doing these traits over and over again, recycling until he got better asset after better asset after better asset to the point where he had a pretty strong asset pool for a team that was actually good.
00:34:49
Um, and he was ready to make a trade.
00:34:51
He was ready to cash in all those assets.
00:34:53
And that offseason was crazy.
00:34:55
If you look at their transaction log like, I almost want to ask him or like, how much sleep he had that offseason because, like, he I think he amnesty Luis Scola, you traded, um, Chase Budinger.
00:35:06
He did all this stuff around the draft.
00:35:09
He drafted, you know, three pretty tantalizing assets at the time.
00:35:13
And then he flipped.
00:35:14
Um, like he he wanted he had that asset pool, and then he was He was basically waiting for the big fish to become available.
00:35:21
And that big that big fish at one point was supposed to be Dwight Howard.
00:35:25
If you remember, like they were in the mix to trade for Dwight Howard or Andrew Bynum.
00:35:29
It was one of those two.
00:35:30
Big man, and both of those traits fell through.
00:35:33
He went, Dwight end up going to Los Angeles, and it really looked like like more.
00:35:38
He was setting up the tank that year.
00:35:40
Like he signed Jeremy Land. He signed Omar Asik.
00:35:42
He signed like a pretty unimpressive roster, a roster that looked like it was ready toe.
00:35:48
You know, get a top draft pick and scrap this.
00:35:51
You know this asset for asset strategy, right? And he ends up trading for James Harden the night before, Uh, the night before the season starts and it is insane.
00:36:05
It completely changes the trajectory of his career.
00:36:08
He widely becomes known as one of the best general managers in the league.
00:36:12
He's so freaking creative and and And how he does trades.
00:36:17
Like if you remember the Chris Paul trade, they did not have the salaries to match the Chris Paul contract.
00:36:22
What they did was they used their cash considerations to buy no name players around the league and just cobble together these contracts.
00:36:30
So where they had enough salary salary filler to actually trade for Chris Paul? And then they did that trade within a span of six hours, which is nuts like the fact that he pulled that trade off.
00:36:40
To this day, it's crazy and, you know, for Maury and D'Antoni boat, you know, that 65 1 team where they almost beat the Warriors.
00:36:48
It's gonna haunt them because that's the closest both when I've ever gotten like D'Antoni's had some really good teams, but that's 65.
00:36:54
1 team is by far the best team has ever had, and it sucks.
00:37:00
It sucks if if you're someone who is rooted for Mike D'Antoni or Daryl Morey uh, personally to succeed, like like they both changed the league in different ways, right? Like like D'Antoni in terms of style of play, pace and space.
00:37:16
Seven seconds or less.
00:37:17
More in terms of spreading, uh, shot selection, right? Like like at the time that Mori took over, like the league was still taking a heavy volume of mid range jumpers.
00:37:29
And and there was only like three or four front offices that had ****ytics departments, Which is crazy.
00:37:35
This idea that in 2007 there was three teams that had Ana ****ytics departments is just nuts, and now every team has won.
00:37:42
Now every team, every team is looking for the same shot quad right there.
00:37:45
They're all trying to shoot layups, free throws and three pointers and defense is that have evolved to prevent those shots right? That's the whole point of a drop back defense.
00:37:53
You're trying to prevent layups, three pointers and, uh, and, uh, free throws and, um his impact on the leagues will be felt for a long time.
00:38:02
I think if he wants a job in the league, he's gonna he's gonna have a lot of suitors, like a lot of owners, I think, would even go as far as firing their general manager to hire Maury.
00:38:12
Um, I think I think he can get any job in any sort of finance.
00:38:17
You know, occupation.
00:38:19
He wants to go in like he is pretty well set up like a lot.
00:38:23
A lot of firms want Daryl Morey to do whatever the hell Daryl Daryl Morey does behind the scenes, right? Yep.
00:38:30
Do you feel the same way about D D Anton Air or not? Not as much.
00:38:34
Do you think this is the end of the road? You think he takes a year off? I think he should take a year off, because E.
00:38:40
And I think the perception of D'Antoni it's so unfair.
00:38:44
Like he's It's so unfair.
00:38:47
Like the fact that he hadn't won a championship does not have anything to do with how good of a coach he is.
00:38:51
And it zits the thing we do with players to write like way pretend like Charles Barkley is not a winning player.
00:38:58
He's never won a championship.
00:38:59
Give me a break, right? Like John Stockton's not a winning player because the other one championships like stop it like like we need to stop doing this thing with players and coaches with rings, right? Especially for a coach that isn't even like he's not on the floor playing the game, get it? But like that Zilly to me, I don't know.
00:39:15
And I don't think he had an awesome Syria's against the Lakers.
00:39:18
But that was just like, what was his adjustment that he was gonna make after a while after you.
00:39:23
But after the Lakers put Anthony Davis at center, there was nothing that what did you dio that was the move, like you make them adjust to you, and then oh, it turns out that that's actually like when they're really, really unlocked, which is, like, kind of the skeleton key of everything for them.
00:39:37
What I tell you about Frank Vogel, man, what I tell you, Frank, you had some gems that if you haven't listened to that first episode, you have some gems.
00:39:45
I mean, Frank Vogel is an awesome coach you don't know why.
00:39:49
When he got hired by the Lakers, people thought that just because it was their third option, he wasn't going to be very good in that role.
00:39:56
Yeah, no, it's funny and stuff like that it is, and like I, I kind of like get Lakers overkill like I do feel like there's there's a nutrition level that happens a little bit quicker with the Lakers.
00:40:07
I have loved every single story I've read about them and how they came together this year.
00:40:12
I just think they're really fascinating, like the way they leaned into how they they play and just the buy in that they got from the beginning.
00:40:18
It's really cool. It's a cool story.
00:40:20
Um, you know, say what you want, but I think it's really cool.
00:40:23
So and it's it's credit to him.
00:40:25
I mean, he got LeBron James to buy in defensively.
00:40:28
I mean, you know what? Let's end on D'Antoni again, because I just want to circle back there because I think if he's gonna be in the N B A again next year, he should be at the top of every team that has an opening like they're like like he's probably the best coach on the market right now, especially especially since standing gun.
00:40:48
He's already got hired right, like he is the most proven coach out there.
00:40:52
He plays a modern style basketball.
00:40:55
You don't have to get him toe to buy into a modern style basketball.
00:40:58
He's already end.
00:40:59
He invented this stuff, right? Like you don't need to convince Mike D'Antoni to play Mori ball right.
00:41:05
And I think if he gets hired back contender next year, you'll show he'll show people once again why he's a really **** good coach.
00:41:13
I hope you get the championship.
00:41:15
I really dio.
00:41:16
I hope Maury ends his career with at least one championship.
00:41:19
Is looking unlikely at this point because he's, you know, he's in his seventies at this point, and you know there's not really any contender with an opening right now.
00:41:28
But if there is next season, uh, I hope he gets the job.
00:41:31
I'm trying to think, like, mentally who that would be for a contender next year. It's kind of tough.
00:41:37
Maybe the Bucks.
00:41:38
Maybe Maybe the Bucks, like try one year with Buddha.
00:41:41
Noser, right? Like, and this was if you're gonna like co Budenholzer.
00:41:46
This was the year that like Oh, but I know I thought that was a mistake.
00:41:48
I thought they should have brought him in.
00:41:50
I really thought they should have brought my kin.
00:41:52
I think that would have been a fit That makes a little bit of sense, um, similar to what they're doing.
00:41:57
But, you know, maybe just a breath of fresh air and guys that actually he actually plays his guys like I felt like the really easy adjustment to may.
00:42:05
But, I mean, you know, e can't blame them for for sticking with the guy.
00:42:09
That's one of those games.
00:42:10
I don't know how you feel about that, but clearly it's one that you thought about as well, right? I mean, buds, a good coach like buds are really good, coach, but, um, I don't know, like like it does seem like there's a playoff stealing for him, right? And I hate saying that about about coaches, but for him in particular, like he just cannot break this habit of like, players have to play 34 minutes a game, which is stupid.
00:42:36
Well, why would you limit your players to that? And why would you limit your honest to that? Most importantly, like like the non unionist minutes are ugly, Like we've seen it for years now, like the Bucks looked like a completely different team.
00:42:49
When he when he sits on the bench and going into the playoffs, like if you're talking about do or die, especially when you're talking about the closing games of that Siri's, you're like, You're kidding me.
00:42:59
You're not gonna play Yanis more now if you're not gonna play more now, when are you gonna play him, like, when? When is your back ever gonna beam or against the wall in the closing games? That that heat Siri's, Especially when you know there's all this chatter about your job security and about the honest, like potentially leaving.
00:43:15
It was it was bizarre.
00:43:17
I I don't know.
00:43:20
I mean, if that if he's not, if that's not gonna be the moment where he has a moment where he just sits there and he says, Okay, we just gotta I gotta break this mold.
00:43:27
I don't know what ISS like.
00:43:28
I guess it would be next year, but I don't know.
00:43:31
Tough look and tough comments from Yannis I wanna let you plug away anything you have coming up.
00:43:36
Anything that we should be all anxiously awaiting.
00:43:39
Yeah.
00:43:40
I mean, so my offseason review's gonna be coming soon on ESPN 975 with the Rockets.
00:43:45
We're gonna be talking about a lot of stuff I talked about on this podcast.
00:43:48
Um, and you know my newsletter.
00:43:51
Stay with rockets.
00:43:52
If you're Rockets fan, go ahead and subscribe to that.
00:43:54
My podcast.
00:43:55
Where nation hoops would do that.
00:43:56
Weekly guests from around the Rockets world.
00:43:59
And, you know, it's fun.
00:44:01
It's fun.
00:44:02
This This will be an interesting offseason for the rockets.
00:44:03
Uh, we talk about buds, buds back, being against the wall.
00:44:07
The rockets pack is definitely against the wall right now.
00:44:09
Eso It's gonna be an interesting offices in a very critical one for them.
00:44:13
Yeah, this is how many before we go.
00:44:16
Is this How many years do you think this is such a hot question? That's right.
00:44:21
At the very end with I've gotten I've gotten it. It's okay.
00:44:24
Uh, what's your what's your number for just throwing it out there.
00:44:28
So here's my thing.
00:44:31
Whenever I get this question, it's like the whole point of a rebuild right is to find a player like James Harden.
00:44:37
And most of the time, that player is not gonna be good as James as James Harden and, like just probability wise.
00:44:43
And you already have that player in hand.
00:44:47
And not only do you have that player in hand, you have a good roster around him, right? So in terms of, like likelihood of situation improving from here, it's very low.
00:44:58
And if you're Houston, I I think you hold on toe James Harden as long as James Harden has do right, because we know stars really have the power here, right? So if if Harden wants out, Harden gets out.
00:45:10
But as long as it hardened doesn't want out, you try your ass off to build the best roster around him until until you know the wheels fall off.
00:45:20
And I think in terms of rebuilding directions like yeah, you'll get, you'll get value for Harden.
00:45:24
Of course, you're gonna You're gonna get value for James Harden, but, um, it's it's the risk reward ratio.
00:45:32
It's just it doesn't it never ends up.
00:45:34
Even when you try to, superstar never ends up even.
00:45:36
There's a reason teams like like the cabs and the thunder and the Warriors like there's a reason those teams don't trade their star one of the last years of the deal.
00:45:45
Like they didn't trade Katie.
00:45:46
They didn't trade LeBron like the reason they don't do who that is.
00:45:50
Because the odds of you fighting a player like that after trading a player like that are very low.
00:45:57
So you just rather you play the odds. You keep the guy.
00:46:00
Yep.
00:46:01
You see the bucks doing that right now? All right.
00:46:03
Well, fair.
00:46:04
Thank you so much for coming on.
00:46:06
This was great. I, of course, will hit you up.
00:46:08
Next time we have something big and rockets related.
00:46:10
I'm sure there will be many stories coming up very soon.
00:46:14
And I appreciate you for coming on.
00:46:16
It's always good to see you.
00:46:18
Yeah, for sure.
00:46:19
It's a fun
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What's Next for the Houston Rockets? w/ Salman Ali of ESPN975

76 Views
Matt Brooks @MattBrooks

Transcript hideup

00:00:06
Mhm.
00:00:25
Mhm.
00:00:26
All right, you'll see this.
00:00:27
Playing it back.
00:00:28
We have a snazzy little intro.
00:00:30
Now welcome back to basketball and more with your host, Matt Brooks.
00:00:35
This is, of course, a SportsCastr official.
00:00:37
Vaud cast.
00:00:38
I am joined by Salman Ali of ESPN, 9753 curator of the state of the Rockets newsletter and host of the Red, The Red Nation Hoops Podcasts.
00:00:50
You're a very busy man.
00:00:51
Got many, many bylines all over the place.
00:00:54
How are you? How's this week been? It's been pretty crazy.
00:00:58
Uh, this is the third show I've been on this week.
00:01:01
I've had to answer a lot of questions about what the Rockets air doing.
00:01:04
What the Rockets are not doing.
00:01:07
It's been a lot.
00:01:08
It's been a lot, but I knew this was gonna be a crazy offseason.
00:01:11
Judging by the 1st 24 off the 24 hours when Mike D'Antoni stepped away on, they had to start the coaching search.
00:01:18
But I did not expect it to be to go like this.
00:01:21
Agreed? No, I I agree.
00:01:23
And I think one of the things that that I'm really interested about is that I I mean, look like the one of the things that I think is like is really crazy about a lot of this.
00:01:37
Is that like when we last broadcasted, we were basically talking about like, Oh, could the Rockets went in six or seven and now we're having a conversation with no general manager and no coach s.
00:01:49
Oh, I just think that's a crazy happenstance.
00:01:54
And first off, how plugged in are you with all this? Do you have any idea of, like, what's gonna happen next for them? So they're down to three finalists, and my sense is nothing to really change their I.
00:02:03
I know a lot of people gonna try to dig into the weeds at this point, but really like it's up, they just have to pick one.
00:02:09
It's gonna be either Stephen Silas, Jeff Van Gundy or John Lucas.
00:02:14
John Lucas is a really close relationship with the team.
00:02:17
When his name was first brought up, I wrote in my newsletter.
00:02:20
Do not underestimate this guy.
00:02:21
Like I I know.
00:02:22
Ah, lot of people thought that that was kind of a throwaway interview.
00:02:25
That was not a throwaway interview.
00:02:26
When his name got brought up.
00:02:27
I knew right away.
00:02:28
They were serious about it.
00:02:30
Um, he's really close to everybody on that team.
00:02:32
Hey, knows the roster inside and out.
00:02:34
Hey knows the way they like to play.
00:02:37
He's done with the team for a couple for a few years now.
00:02:40
Um, he's smarter than like I don't know what's going on a Rocket Twitter.
00:02:44
People are just panicking at the idea of John Lucas being hired.
00:02:47
And I'm just, like, calm down.
00:02:49
First of all, if if he gets hired, that's probably a chance, a sign of continuity, because that's That's the coat that's been on your staff for the past few years.
00:02:59
That also signals that they're probably not gonna make many staff changes because a lot of that staff is gonna carry over.
00:03:05
You know, you're talking about Matt Bradley coming back.
00:03:08
You're talking about Brad.
00:03:09
Gunning is kind of back, so they're probably gonna play the same way.
00:03:11
Um, and it just it just looks like more of the same if they hired John Lucas.
00:03:16
Now, maybe if you're not a fan of more of the same, that can panic you.
00:03:20
But my sense is that if they bring John Lucas and not much is really going to change if they bring in all of these other coaches.
00:03:29
I think I think they're gonna have a similar mindset in terms of how they wanna play.
00:03:34
But perhaps there's gonna be some tweaking going around around the edges.
00:03:37
Yeah, no, I think like I mean look like when we talked even last last time, we were kind of talking about, like how you didn't feel like they were going to shift their identity at all, no matter what happened.
00:03:47
And it kind of sounds like you're still in that camp, even when I mean it's happened.
00:03:51
I mean, let's just look at the roster.
00:03:53
They have Russell Westbrook and James Harden like they need floor spacing on the floor.
00:03:57
And when you have Russell Westbrook, it just shrinks the floor to a level that it's hard to sustain.
00:04:02
If you have a traditional big man, uh, maybe they bring in a traditional big man to bring off the bench so they can run a little bit more pick and roll with James Harden because because they haven't had that element in a while.
00:04:12
Uh, but in terms of like how they're gonna play with their starters and probably for 70% of the game.
00:04:18
Yeah, they're gonna play microbe all.
00:04:19
They're gonna have a small ball center.
00:04:22
Andi.
00:04:23
Perhaps they bring in some bigger players.
00:04:25
You know, maybe instead of a 65 p.
00:04:27
J.
00:04:28
Tucker, you're bringing someone that's maybe 6768 But you're not going to see a seven footer.
00:04:31
It's gonna be some more of the same, I would imagine no centers at all. None.
00:04:36
Or do you think they'll be like, Yeah, they might bring in one for off the bench purposes.
00:04:42
So when Russ is on the bench, they and hardens on the floor.
00:04:45
They can run some traditional pick and roll, right, because they haven't had that in their offense in a while, and they need some more dynamism on the offensive end.
00:04:54
So if it is more of the same, they need to find some more player movement, some more ball movement.
00:04:59
Because in the playoffs, I track this that I wrote about this in my newsletter, their play, their regular season offenses up here and their playoff offenses, like right down here in the middle, and people listen to podcast.
00:05:11
I'm my hand, my left hand is on eyes on the higher end and my right hand on the on the middle of the pack right there.
00:05:16
So basically they get a decent chunk worse once they get to the postseason.
00:05:23
And, you know, obviously they're playing better.
00:05:25
Defense is, but not that much better that they're crunch time offense takes a bit of a hit on.
00:05:31
I think it's because teams kind of figure them out.
00:05:34
They see they see the Isil ball.
00:05:36
They see uh, James hard with the space floor and they game plan for it for a seven game Siri's.
00:05:43
And it's just easier to defend the more and more you see it.
00:05:46
So they have to figure out some stuff to make themselves less predict, predictable.
00:05:51
But I don't think in terms of roster identity, they're gonna change them much.
00:05:55
I think perhaps in terms of offensive identity besides the Isil ball, they're gonna add some stuff in.
00:06:02
But whoever they hire, I don't think I don't get the sense that they're going to change much.
00:06:08
So you've mentioned that one of the things they could do is trade out a couple of 68 guy or trade in for a couple of taller players.
00:06:15
Maybe not like full size centers.
00:06:17
What does that? Does that mean anything for the group of house, Covington or Tucker? Do you think any of those guys they're moved? Because that's that's what I wanted to start off and talk to you about? Sure, you've been asked that quite a bit, but I think it z interesting.
00:06:32
So if you were to lock in like a few guys before the season, obviously you lock in.
00:06:36
James Harden obviously lock in rust.
00:06:38
I think the two guys after that, I would say a probably locked in our Robert Covington and P.
00:06:44
J.
00:06:45
Tucker because first of all, Tucker is just crazy value contract.
00:06:49
I don't get the sense that they would want to trade that any work so well with the Rockets want to do on both ends of the floor.
00:06:54
He spaces the floor a decent chunk, and he switches one through five on.
00:07:00
He's the only guy on the on the floor.
00:07:02
We can rebound or box out.
00:07:04
Ah, good amount.
00:07:06
So I would say he probably stays and Robert Covington, I mean, they traded from this year for a reason.
00:07:12
They I think they see him as a future peace move forward.
00:07:15
At least for the next two years.
00:07:17
I e I don't see them moving off of them after just trading for him.
00:07:20
And do you feel like that was more of a Mauri move, though, Like, do you think that or or is that just like the top to bottom? The organization is like, enamored with Covington.
00:07:30
So Jonathan Fig and actually wrote about the negotiations.
00:07:33
Robert, coming today, it seems like Rafael Stone, the new general manager right now was a part of that.
00:07:39
He played a part in the negotiations.
00:07:41
Hey, also wanted to bring in a traditional big man, so I don't know what that what that portends for them this summer.
00:07:46
Like maybe he tries to sneak in another additional big men like, um, you know, maybe get a cheaper, uh, guy than Clint Capela.
00:07:54
We could do some of the same stuff to come off the bench. Maybe.
00:07:57
Maybe that's something they want to do.
00:07:59
But I think my my sense is that Rafael Stone was also a part of that decision.
00:08:04
So I think this was something they front office down.
00:08:08
They thought about that.
00:08:09
They thought about the decision as a group.
00:08:12
Um, that's interesting, because, I mean, I So does that kind of leave house out? Is that the guy you think might be moved? So the reason I left house out is basically how it's because of how the bubble ended.
00:08:26
Uh, that was Yeah, that's the kind of thing where, like, you just don't get of sense.
00:08:33
Like, here's the thing.
00:08:35
I was in the locker room and neither was anybody else.
00:08:38
So nobody really knows how that affects the locker room locker room dynamics.
00:08:41
You know, just how it really ended for him and getting suspended like that.
00:08:45
Uh, but it can't be good, right? Like, it can't be good for a guy like that, you know, do something so selfish and, you know, get kicked out of the bubble like that.
00:08:55
I I don't think that that's that's a good thing for his future on the team.
00:08:59
But, um, you know, I don't know.
00:09:01
Maybe he's smoothing some things out.
00:09:05
We we have no idea.
00:09:07
But he I would I would not count him safe at all.
00:09:10
I would not say Eric Gordon is safe at all because of just how poorly he performed this year.
00:09:15
But here's the thing with Eric Gordon.
00:09:17
I'm not sure who's gonna take on that contract, especially after they give him the extension.
00:09:21
Yeah, especially after they've given the extension.
00:09:23
So they may just have to hope and pray that he plays better because they need good Eric Gordon to play at their best.
00:09:32
I mean, it's been written about a bunch.
00:09:34
I podcast it about it like good Eric Gordon unlocked.
00:09:37
So much for them on the floor offensively and defensively.
00:09:41
And they just lacked that this year.
00:09:44
And, you know, perhaps because of the injuries he had his knee drained mid season.
00:09:48
And he also had problems with the NEA towards you had this season.
00:09:52
So I don't know, you know, like I don't I don't know how he's gonna look going into next season on Lee.
00:09:58
He knows how he feels.
00:10:00
Uh, but I I get the sense that they have They might have no other choice but to keep them.
00:10:06
So when you're talking about improving the roster, you're really talking about signing guys because you, in terms of your trade flexibility, I mean, you're not gonna trade.
00:10:17
James Harden.
00:10:18
You're not gonna trade Russell Westbrook because you probably can't seem like Eric Gordon.
00:10:22
Uh, and Robert Covington his his value to the team.
00:10:26
What they want to do is just so invaluable that you don't want to trade Robert cover the same thing with P.
00:10:31
J.
00:10:32
Tucker.
00:10:33
So those four guys aren't getting traded.
00:10:34
Uh, perhaps you could move Daniel House.
00:10:36
You know, that's a guy I would say you could maybe move.
00:10:39
Um, and Eric Gordon.
00:10:41
I'm not sure if you can move them.
00:10:43
So what? You're really your your tools in the tool in the tool chest right now.
00:10:47
Are are you going to spend that non taxpayer midlevel exception and go into the luxury tax? That's the big question for owner Tilman Fertitta right now, right? He's been talking about how he's been talking about money isn't an object for him, right? And you know, we've We've all read what's been going on with this finances.
00:11:02
He's been hit hard, you know, with not not only the pandemic, but I mean, his casinos in Lake Charles is taking a hit because of the storms that have, you know, hit that area.
00:11:12
So I imagine his pocketbook is hurting.
00:11:17
But here's the thing.
00:11:18
When you own a team that's on the brink of contender ship, it doesn't really matter.
00:11:22
The fans are still gonna hold you to account.
00:11:25
So that's the big question.
00:11:28
Whether or not they spend that non taxpayer mid level exception or whether they find a way to skirt that again this year and use their taxpayer by local exception and find some cheaper options.
00:11:37
And if that's the case, I don't I don't see them getting much better next year.
00:11:41
Like, you know, there's still be a very good team because of you know they have James Harden, P. J. Tucker.
00:11:47
You know Russell Westbrook and Robert Covington.
00:11:51
But if you can improve around the edges to a significant amount bye bye, paying that luxury tax and spending the non taxpayer midlevel exception, you can't improve the roster that much because the players you can get for a non taxpayer with the exception are just so few and far between.
00:12:09
And this is gonna be a competitive marketplace because there are not a lot of top line free agents.
00:12:14
All the top teams they're targeting these guys, so you need guys.
00:12:19
Right? Right. Exactly.
00:12:21
Like everybody wants Jae Crowder.
00:12:22
You're not team that wants Jae Crowder, right? So you're gonna have to pony up and at least have your best your best weapon at the table to compete with these teams that if you show up to the table with a non taxpayer little exception, the screens are gonna laugh you off, and you're gonna have to go bargain bin shopping and and hope you find your next Ben McLemore.
00:12:43
Would you take Jared Allen for Daniel House if I'm Houston, Jared Allen? Um, maybe.
00:12:51
I mean, here's the thing.
00:12:53
Like, I don't think they're straying away from micro ball.
00:12:55
And if you do that move, that means you're straying away from micro ball.
00:12:59
Jared Allen is not gonna come off the bench, right? And my sense is he doesn't want to come off the bench in Brooklyn, even though, uh, it seems like the team dynamic suggests that he's probably gonna come off the bench for next year in Brooklyn.
00:13:11
Um, but yeah, I mean, I get the sense if they do that kind of a move, Uh, that means the thinking in that front office has changed significantly from last.
00:13:21
I've heard.
00:13:22
Okay, so No, no, no Covington.
00:13:25
No Tucker.
00:13:26
No house.
00:13:27
I was trying to figure out angles for us.
00:13:28
Toe Figure something out.
00:13:31
You're trying to say that one of these guys, that's what I'm looking at.
00:13:35
Now that I mean, that's that's all the Nets need.
00:13:36
They just need, like, a wing.
00:13:38
And like, if that was like I mean, Tucker would be like a dream.
00:13:41
I mean, who wouldn't want P.
00:13:43
J.
00:13:44
Tucker on their team? One other team that needs a wing every n B A continued s.
00:13:48
Oh, yeah, No, it's funny.
00:13:50
It's like every team is like, Oh, we should get a wing, which is already a hard position to find.
00:13:54
But we also want somebody that can guard, You know, Anthony Davis, which is like, Okay, that's also that's that's not gonna happen, right? Which is it's so strange because, like the Lakers won this title without a dearth of wings, we haven't seen that in a while, right.
00:14:09
And that's kind of why I was so skeptical of them, especially after they lost every Bradley.
00:14:13
And, you know, maybe that poor tell something in terms of how basketball is gonna be played moving forward like, you know, I think I think last time I was on your show, it might have been your show.
00:14:22
Where we talked about drop back defense is and whether or not that can succeed in the modern NBA and whether or not the n b A is gonna get to ****geneous.
00:14:30
And I think it's a good thing that the Lakers won the title because that that says that most multiple styles can win titles.
00:14:37
That makes me feel good.
00:14:38
That makes me feel good that you can win a title because it didn't look that way for the first two rounds.
00:14:42
It was kind of like Okay, I'm not sure if this is like a viable solution.
00:14:46
The Bucks, completely just, like, dissipated into nothingness.
00:14:49
Like they That's a team that's like that just is predicated on drop back and encouraging, you know, mid range shots.
00:14:55
But, I mean, it's nice.
00:14:57
I mean, again, playoffs is all matchups.
00:14:59
It's all about a t end of the day.
00:15:01
It really is just all about talent and things coming together at the right time.
00:15:05
So it's a good thing, though, like I'm very happy about it like we.
00:15:08
As much as we were excited for the idea of an upset, the silver lining is that we aren't going to get a lead that's so ****geneous where it's like Okay, it's like Onley small ball teams with as many shooters on the floor is possible.
00:15:21
I still think there will be teams that will go out there like this Rockets team.
00:15:24
It sounds like and do that again.
00:15:26
But it is a nice kind of refreshing aspect to this.
00:15:29
Um, let's talk. So free agents.
00:15:33
Do you have anybody circled, Weaken, do some of the major names there, anybody that you kind of look down that list and said, Hey, this actually might be a pretty sweet option for the Rockets at all.
00:15:44
So let's talk about the fridge.
00:15:45
They might lose, right? So I think I think Austin Rivers, a guy you probably figure is probably gonna leave because I don't I don't think I mean, he has a player option right now, and he's kind of got lost in the shuffle of that guard rotation over the past couple of years.
00:16:00
Like he plays his best basketball when somebody is injured and that's not a good thing for him personally.
00:16:05
It's a good thing for the Rockets because they have that luxury.
00:16:07
But I don't think I think Austin Rivers seas more for himself.
00:16:12
He's talked publicly about how he feels he could do more for another team.
00:16:15
So I think Austin Rivers probably gonna be out.
00:16:17
Jeff Green is a guy who I think, uh, you know, very interesting.
00:16:22
Jeff Green situation is very interesting.
00:16:24
See, like you always see this right one team finds a way to, ah, smart team finds a way to unlock this role player that that not many teams saw much in.
00:16:34
And then every other team in the N B A is like, Oh, we gotta hop on this.
00:16:37
So if we have to go so I think there's gonna be a lot of interest for Jeff Green.
00:16:40
So I think that the player they wanna keep, But I'm not sure if they're gonna if they're gonna have the tools to keep them, we'll see.
00:16:46
I mean, I'm not sure what is Mark is gonna look like, because again, this market is super weird and that there is no top end talent to balance everything out.
00:16:54
So he might be someone who gets overpaid.
00:16:56
But if you can keep him, you'd like to keep him.
00:16:59
And at that point, you try to target the leftover wings, right? Like if you can keep Daniel House, then you're still you're You're in a pretty good position, wing wise, because then you have Robert Covington, P.
00:17:09
J.
00:17:10
Tucker and Daniel House coming back, right? And Eric Gordon, if, uh if he plays like Eric Gordon, right, so then you really only need to chase like one wing, right? And then you can you can find a way to use that mid level exception toe snack, somebody of quality.
00:17:25
And you don't really need to stack someone of, like, top top end quality at that point because you already have these top end wins on your roster.
00:17:32
But you can snack someone who you know who can play give you 15 to 20 minutes a game, right? Like someone like, uh, Luc Mbah a Moute gave the rockets two years ago, right? If you could get someone like that, that's the kind of wing you were targeted for, Houston.
00:17:47
And maybe it is looking about moody.
00:17:48
Who knows? I mean, he played with the team at the end of this season, and it seems like he's working out in Houston.
00:17:54
So, uh, you know, maybe he returns next year and looks more like himself.
00:17:59
He struggled the injuries the past few years so that, you know, Gerald Greens, another guy that they might tried to bring back.
00:18:07
I mean, they really did not want to trade him.
00:18:09
I mean, he really he broke his foot and they had no choice.
00:18:12
So that's another guy I suspect they tried to bring back.
00:18:16
So it's gonna be interesting because they have a lot of good wings, and really, they What they need is someone who can play four and five really well and defend really well that position at four and five, and that kind of wing is so highly coveted.
00:18:32
I'm not sure if they're going to get that guy, but maybe they could get some one of, you know, just a run down of quality and fill in the holes and kind of call it together, decent defense and then get to mid season.
00:18:45
And then maybe you could do something on the buyout market.
00:18:48
Yeah, it's kind of funny, like If you look, I feel like they're in a weird position where they might as well keep everybody that they have, because I don't know if they're going to just be looking to replace those positions like they're just gonna end up with worse players.
00:19:02
So it's kind of like if they're just, I do kind of feel like the Rockets are a little stuck in what they're doing now.
00:19:10
Things can shake out.
00:19:11
They might just hit a more favorable matchup. Maybe.
00:19:14
I mean, look, I don't know how optimistic are you feeling about the Westbrook Harden thing in Year two? Um, so it's not.
00:19:21
It's not ideal fit, right? Like the ideal fit next to Harden is a point guard who could defend and hit threes and and handle the ball a little bit, right? Like Westbrook is missing two of those qualities, right? So, uh, the rockets have done a good job of compensating for that by doing that.
00:19:37
Clint Capela trade right and playing micro ball.
00:19:40
But you are compensating for that.
00:19:41
Which tells you it's not an ideal fit.
00:19:44
So, um, I don't know, like I have to question every few days, like is you know.
00:19:50
Is Westbrook good enough to be the second best player on the team anymore? I don't know.
00:19:54
You know, like that.
00:19:55
Who knows what the answer to that is like what, Author? That question to you? Do you think Westbrook's good enough to be the second best player on a title contender? I've been I've been out on Westbrook for, like, 22 plus years.
00:20:07
Even this year, I was kind of like All right, like, this is great.
00:20:09
I just want to see it in the playoffs because I feel like we run into the same thing every year.
00:20:13
Now, this year, I think, was a little different because he just he dealt with so much.
00:20:18
Yeah, he had coded.
00:20:19
He had Quadri, right? He had a bunch of stuff, but, like, I can give him the benefit of that.
00:20:25
And hold on.
00:20:26
I just wanna Aaron, I just wanna air grievance here because I I asked Westbrook about this, right.
00:20:31
And and then and then he did the Westbrook thing.
00:20:33
He shut me down.
00:20:34
So what am I? What am I supposed todo right? So I'm like, Okay, I'm just gonna assume he's healthy.
00:20:39
And if he's healthy.
00:20:41
I'm gonna criticize him because he's playing like crap, right? And like this.
00:20:45
And then after immediately after the season, he comes out, It's like, Yeah, I definitely 100%.
00:20:49
Well, I literally asked you, are you 100% you could have told and, you know, you know, maybe that was some gamesmanship.
00:20:55
I don't know.
00:20:56
Like I don't wanna hijack your podcast where Jack away.
00:20:59
This is No, it just bothered me. It just bothered.
00:21:04
Yeah.
00:21:05
No, I mean, it's always the, like, retroactive, like, Oh, actually, I wasn't all that good like that.
00:21:11
Uh, but I also think like, sure, like, there actually might have been a case that he wasn't ah, 100%.
00:21:18
Because a lot of the stuff that e you looked at a rhythm, but eventually it's like, I how long are we going to give you the algorithm excuse? Really? Like in terms of how many games that took him to, like, find his It was just like, you know, it was really hit or miss, and I just kind of feel like that's the story for him since, really, since Durant left the case for Westbrook is that stretch before like after the All Star break.
00:21:43
You know, basically right before the right before the bubble stopped.
00:21:46
Right, right, right before the season stop.
00:21:48
Sorry that that's that's two months stretch where he was averaging, like 30 10 and five or whatever and on good efficiency for him.
00:21:56
That's the case for Westbrook, right? Like if you can get more of that at the start of next season, if he's more comfortable starting next season, playing like that since they're starting with Micro Ball, that's the case for him.
00:22:07
Maybe maybe he Maybe he plays more of like that for the, you know, for most of next season, instead of like a small chunk.
00:22:15
So I don't know.
00:22:16
I I think I think Westbrook played better than he did in the prior year.
00:22:21
But I'm not sure if that Z, you know, good, necessary.
00:22:24
Like I'm not sure if that's good enough to be the second best player on the title team, and that that that question still up in the air, that and you know, I think going into next season the Rockets are probably gonna be a very good team.
00:22:36
But again, there's gonna be a bunch of very good team in the Western Conference.
00:22:39
Denver is gonna be good, I think.
00:22:42
I think the pelicans, because they just hired Stan Van Gundy.
00:22:44
They're gonna be e Denver thing, right? Yeah.
00:22:48
E right there.
00:22:51
I don't know why people just thought the Clippers, we're gonna roll over.
00:22:55
The Clippers didn't roll over anybody all season.
00:22:58
It and we were just doing every year, though.
00:23:00
There's always one team that we just like.
00:23:02
We have our Maybe there's a me thing.
00:23:04
We have the biases where we just look like preseason hype.
00:23:07
We just refused to accept it.
00:23:09
If I was in on the Clippers to write like like I expected that to be, Ah, Clippers win.
00:23:15
I just I just thought it was gonna be a closer Siris of what people were predicting.
00:23:18
And I thought the Clippers were gonna, you know, go to the Western Conference finals, compete with the Lakers, probably make it to the Finals like they were my title pick.
00:23:26
But I definitely thought people were sleeping on the Nuggets there, and so they're gonna be good.
00:23:31
Next year is my point.
00:23:32
The Mavericks, they're gonna be much improved next season.
00:23:35
I really do think, Uh, offensively, they're gonna be awesome. Defensively.
00:23:40
I think they're gonna be much better because they're gonna have a full season of poor Zynga's.
00:23:44
And they get they get the offseason to scour for parts.
00:23:48
Right? And I don't I don't think they're gonna use too much cap space, right, Because they want to reserve that 2021 space for Yannis.
00:23:54
Right? Who is it, right? Yeah, but Alice, the legit team that might actually have a chance to land him so scary.
00:24:02
Yeah, So I don't think they're gonna use that much cap space, But that doesn't mean I don't think they're gonna sign good one year deal.
00:24:07
So that that that's gonna be something to watch for Dallas.
00:24:09
What kind of one year deals can they get? And then, you know, next year they got that they got that captures.
00:24:14
Like what? Players willing to sign with Dallas for a one year deal instead of instead of stability, Especially during these pandemic times.
00:24:21
You know, God knows what agents are telling their players right now about flexibility and being pragmatic about your contract.
00:24:28
Yeah, I'm really curious to see.
00:24:29
Like what? What we How How Players handle it like, are we looking at just a bunch of one year deals and it just kind of rolls.
00:24:37
And when we have this bloated 2021 class, our guys just gonna be like, Hey, like, I'm you know, I don't know.
00:24:42
I'm just in holiday and I want to just take the 10 million Emily that I'm going to get from whatever team.
00:24:49
I'm curious.
00:24:50
I don't know.
00:24:51
It will be a really interesting year.
00:24:52
I don't remember a year like this where it's just I mean, I mean for obvious reasons.
00:24:56
But just in terms of all the teams that have this Emily, and that's pretty much about it or if it's even a mini Emily.
00:25:03
Um, so that's kind of what I'm I'm interested in with next year.
00:25:08
Who do you have in terms off like teams that you would have ahead of the, I guess.
00:25:16
I guess both.
00:25:17
Well, what really like ahead of the Rockets this year? I have the Lakers for sure at the Clippers ahead of the Rockets and the Nuggets.
00:25:26
I would say get the leg up on the Rockets just cause I had they performed last season, so I think.
00:25:30
I think those are the four.
00:25:32
Those are the three teams I would definitely have above the Rockets after that.
00:25:36
The Western Conference is deep, but I don't think there it's particularly top heavy after that.
00:25:40
So I think the Rockets are competing with that tear of team.
00:25:43
So I think they're just a step below that tear, which is, uh, you know not where you wanna be, But you're still in a good position to maybe upset somebody so that the Rockets will you have tow optimize this offseason is my co point here, right? Because, like, I think they're pretty solidly locked in.
00:25:59
Like we say, they're stuck.
00:26:00
They're stuck in a good position, but they're still stuck, right? So they need to find ways to incrementally improve the roster to get better defensively.
00:26:08
Really, like that's what we're That's really what we're skating around, right? They were 15th and defense last year, 17th year before that.
00:26:15
That's what that's what's what's holding them back.
00:26:17
That and their playoff offense, which is gonna be something that you coaching staff has to figure out.
00:26:22
But, um, their defense has to get better, which means they need better parts and their offense needs to get better, which means they need better coaching.
00:26:29
So it's gonna That's gonna be the issues they have to resolve this off season.
00:26:33
How do you resolve the defense thing? Is there anybody that sticks out like a player in particular is there just isn't gonna be the Jae crowder that everybody seems to be talking about.
00:26:43
Yeah.
00:26:44
I mean, I didn't want to say Jae Crowder's name twice, but yeah, you have to like, that's the kind of guy you have to get. Right.
00:26:50
Um, and it's gonna be tough again, because I think first of all, he has a good case to stay in Miami, right? Like, my like, why would you not want to stay in Miami like Miami put together as good of a case toe? Want to stay there as you possibly can, And, uh, and and there's gonna be a lot of teams that want Jake crowd like the Lakers.
00:27:09
They're gonna be a team that that messes up a lot of teams plants, right? Like like a lot of freedom.
00:27:15
They're gonna want to go to l.
00:27:16
A.
00:27:17
Like the historically always have been, uh and, uh, that's gonna be a team you have to compete against.
00:27:21
And the case the Rockets have to offer is perhaps playing time, like you're gonna get more playing time on the Rockets than maybe in Los Angeles.
00:27:29
And that that's really what you got, show free agents, potentially and potentially.
00:27:35
I don't know, though it really depends on how much the Lakers shake things up.
00:27:40
I have no idea.
00:27:41
I mean, there's a lot of guys I think they were on the Rockets that I think could have played on this Lakers team like so I don't know.
00:27:47
It will be interesting next.
00:27:49
The one thing that seems almost unfair is that they have the full Emily, which is just like, I'm just I can't even believe that when I saw that on and they have the audacity to contest the luau dating things like Don't get me wrong like like oh, I know like you should do it if you're if you're a general manager like you should definitely try doing stuff like that.
00:28:09
But if the league grants from this, there's gonna be a lot of up.
00:28:12
Or especially from a team like the Rockets who tried to do this clever thing with a calf last year when the nays contract and the league rejected it.
00:28:19
So what they tried to do last year was they tried to sign Nanny to a two year deal.
00:28:23
That first year didn't really hit their cap that hard.
00:28:26
But it was.
00:28:27
It was a bunch of non guaranteed incentives that he was not gonna hit.
00:28:31
It was like a bunch of playing time incentives.
00:28:33
You had to get a bunch of rebounds or whatever, like he was not gonna hit these incentives.
00:28:37
But they're in there right there as a team.
00:28:40
They're within their right to do that kind of stuff.
00:28:42
And the league rejected it because they knew they were trying to set up themselves for basically a steal of, ah trade deadline kind of move right.
00:28:50
They were gonna flip that in a contract with some draft picks to get someone like Robert Covington, Frank like that.
00:28:55
That that was how high the salary went up to.
00:28:57
So but the league rejected that contract and if they if they if they managed to get the Grant, the Lakers, this teams like the Rockets seems like the Mavericks teams like that that anyone who has any bone to pick with the league about stuff rulings that they have made in regards salary cap are gonna come out of the woodwork and just flame the Lakers.
00:29:17
Right? And they may not say it publicly, but the league office is gonna hear about it.
00:29:21
So I wonder if that's in their calculation as to whether or not they grab this for the Lakers like Luol Deng thing is gonna be really fascinating to keep an eye on.
00:29:29
Yeah, I don't I can't even remember.
00:29:30
I'm trying to think of a time in recent history where that happened, where you have a team that's going to tryto figure e guess.
00:29:36
I guess you could look it like the This is on such a lower scale.
00:29:40
But Golden State taking advantage of the of the salary the way they did and bring in Durant.
00:29:45
But I don't I mean, this is different.
00:29:47
Like this is going to cause a bunch of teams to, you know, I guess on the league office about this I will say this If you're a Lakers fan that had questions about Rob Pelinka like the fact that he's trying something like this makes you feel a little bit better, right? The fact the fact, Yeah, the fact that he has, for the foresight to do something like this.
00:30:04
Uh, you know, I was someone who was skeptical of Rob Pelinka.
00:30:07
But, like like, this is something that makes me a little bit more impressed about.
00:30:10
It is It's shady as hell, but the best general managers do stuff that's shady is how sure? Yeah.
00:30:16
No.
00:30:17
And I mean, compared to, like, cup check who would, like wait till, like, absolutely when free agency starts.
00:30:21
He was like, I'm sorry.
00:30:22
Well, not tamper with the Lakers air.
00:30:26
Still complaining about those that Steve Nash straight till this day.
00:30:28
They want those pigs back, but yeah, there you go.
00:30:32
They got their payback? Yeah, the glue holding, Um What? So for coaching.
00:30:40
I'm gonna switch back this a little bit if they don't go with Lucas, which it sounds like you're pretty confident.
00:30:44
What percentage would you say? You have confidence and that that may or may not happen? I I think so.
00:30:50
I think I don't think Lucas is that necessarily the front runner.
00:30:54
I think he's one of two.
00:30:55
I think it is gonna be Lucas or Van Gundy.
00:30:57
I don't have much confidence that they're gonna pick a head coach without, you know, much head coaching experience or actually any head coaching experience in Stephen Silas.
00:31:04
So I think it's gonna be between those two that I mean with Jeff Van Gundy.
00:31:09
There's just been so much smoke over the past four years.
00:31:12
Every time the Rockets have a coach opening, Jeff Van Gundy's name gets brought up and you know the ties to organization.
00:31:18
Are there the Thais, the city are there. He lives in Houston.
00:31:22
Hey, loves the City, talks about Houston all the time on N B.
00:31:25
A broadcast like, uh, to a point where almost gets annoying, right? Like like he is Houston through it through.
00:31:32
He's a Texans fan, uh, right, and so, like he would want if he wanted to come back in the N.
00:31:38
B.
00:31:39
This is the kind of job you want rights a ready made contender for you.
00:31:42
Um, and it's It's a place where you're already You don't have to move.
00:31:45
You don't have to uproot your family.
00:31:46
Your family is already, by the way, like the reason Jeff Van Gundy turned down a bunch of jobs.
00:31:51
First of all, he had a cozy job in a Be at ABC, right? Like I think, people just assumed that Jeff Van Gundy wasn't getting called and Gandhi was getting calls.
00:31:59
He was.
00:32:00
He was just turning them down, left and right, because he was like, No, I want to kind of raise my daughters and live in Houston and enjoy this cushy job like, Why would I? Why would I leave? Like I'm getting paid? Well here.
00:32:10
I'm doing what I want to do, and I'm around my friends and family.
00:32:14
I don't I don't want to go back to that hellhole of coaching.
00:32:17
And this is the kind of job where you can do that and still be near your family.
00:32:21
So I would say Jeff Van Gundy and John Lucas, or probably a toss up As far as I think, it would really surprise me if the pick Silas at this point okay, any other stealth options? Or do you think it's really just those two and that's it? No, I'd be interested in even well so I I don't know why they didn't interview Chris Finch because This was the team that discovered Chris Finch right in Germany, and they brought him up through the ranks through their D League system through, um, their head coaching ranks.
00:32:50
He was he At one point, he became chemicals lead assistant, and the fact that they didn't contact him was strange.
00:32:58
It's just strange they didn't interview him at all.
00:33:00
Um, and you know, Kenny Atkinson is a guy I thought would be in the finalist of this for this job.
00:33:07
It's a little strange he's not there, either.
00:33:09
But I guess that really tells you how much they really like Silas.
00:33:13
Like it z It is crazy.
00:33:15
He's been a finalist for this job twice.
00:33:17
Now, I would hate to be him and be burned by the rockets again.
00:33:21
Um, but yeah, I mean, it's gonna be one of those two coaches I would say.
00:33:27
Okay, cool.
00:33:28
There you go.
00:33:29
Um, let's talk about a little more light hearted subject for we close out and I'll let you plug away anything.
00:33:34
What would you say? The legacy? Because there's been a lot of legacy conversation about Maury, about D'Antoni.
00:33:41
What? We're like key stories, moments that you really think of the defined both of them, them individually believe in this wide open for you.
00:33:51
Oh, man, that's That's a really broad question you give me.
00:33:54
Give me both D'Antoni and Maury.
00:33:56
Let's start with Maury Lett's story that you think of when, if you're looking back fondly on the more era.
00:34:04
So the more E era really starts and ends with the 2012 offseason because that was the culmination of what he had done for five years, right? He got the job in 2007.
00:34:14
Uh, the first big decision he made was was firing Jeff Van Gundy right and trying to retool around Yao Ming and Tracy McGrady.
00:34:23
Hiring work out of it and then, after, you know, toying away mediocrity after Yao Ming and Tracy McGrady retired like he was slowly behind the scenes just kind of flipping, flipping $75.
00:34:34
75 pieces for a dollar pieces over and over again.
00:34:38
He was doing these traits over and over again, recycling until he got better asset after better asset after better asset to the point where he had a pretty strong asset pool for a team that was actually good.
00:34:49
Um, and he was ready to make a trade.
00:34:51
He was ready to cash in all those assets.
00:34:53
And that offseason was crazy.
00:34:55
If you look at their transaction log like, I almost want to ask him or like, how much sleep he had that offseason because, like, he I think he amnesty Luis Scola, you traded, um, Chase Budinger.
00:35:06
He did all this stuff around the draft.
00:35:09
He drafted, you know, three pretty tantalizing assets at the time.
00:35:13
And then he flipped.
00:35:14
Um, like he he wanted he had that asset pool, and then he was He was basically waiting for the big fish to become available.
00:35:21
And that big that big fish at one point was supposed to be Dwight Howard.
00:35:25
If you remember, like they were in the mix to trade for Dwight Howard or Andrew Bynum.
00:35:29
It was one of those two.
00:35:30
Big man, and both of those traits fell through.
00:35:33
He went, Dwight end up going to Los Angeles, and it really looked like like more.
00:35:38
He was setting up the tank that year.
00:35:40
Like he signed Jeremy Land. He signed Omar Asik.
00:35:42
He signed like a pretty unimpressive roster, a roster that looked like it was ready toe.
00:35:48
You know, get a top draft pick and scrap this.
00:35:51
You know this asset for asset strategy, right? And he ends up trading for James Harden the night before, Uh, the night before the season starts and it is insane.
00:36:05
It completely changes the trajectory of his career.
00:36:08
He widely becomes known as one of the best general managers in the league.
00:36:12
He's so freaking creative and and And how he does trades.
00:36:17
Like if you remember the Chris Paul trade, they did not have the salaries to match the Chris Paul contract.
00:36:22
What they did was they used their cash considerations to buy no name players around the league and just cobble together these contracts.
00:36:30
So where they had enough salary salary filler to actually trade for Chris Paul? And then they did that trade within a span of six hours, which is nuts like the fact that he pulled that trade off.
00:36:40
To this day, it's crazy and, you know, for Maury and D'Antoni boat, you know, that 65 1 team where they almost beat the Warriors.
00:36:48
It's gonna haunt them because that's the closest both when I've ever gotten like D'Antoni's had some really good teams, but that's 65.
00:36:54
1 team is by far the best team has ever had, and it sucks.
00:37:00
It sucks if if you're someone who is rooted for Mike D'Antoni or Daryl Morey uh, personally to succeed, like like they both changed the league in different ways, right? Like like D'Antoni in terms of style of play, pace and space.
00:37:16
Seven seconds or less.
00:37:17
More in terms of spreading, uh, shot selection, right? Like like at the time that Mori took over, like the league was still taking a heavy volume of mid range jumpers.
00:37:29
And and there was only like three or four front offices that had ****ytics departments, Which is crazy.
00:37:35
This idea that in 2007 there was three teams that had Ana ****ytics departments is just nuts, and now every team has won.
00:37:42
Now every team, every team is looking for the same shot quad right there.
00:37:45
They're all trying to shoot layups, free throws and three pointers and defense is that have evolved to prevent those shots right? That's the whole point of a drop back defense.
00:37:53
You're trying to prevent layups, three pointers and, uh, and, uh, free throws and, um his impact on the leagues will be felt for a long time.
00:38:02
I think if he wants a job in the league, he's gonna he's gonna have a lot of suitors, like a lot of owners, I think, would even go as far as firing their general manager to hire Maury.
00:38:12
Um, I think I think he can get any job in any sort of finance.
00:38:17
You know, occupation.
00:38:19
He wants to go in like he is pretty well set up like a lot.
00:38:23
A lot of firms want Daryl Morey to do whatever the hell Daryl Daryl Morey does behind the scenes, right? Yep.
00:38:30
Do you feel the same way about D D Anton Air or not? Not as much.
00:38:34
Do you think this is the end of the road? You think he takes a year off? I think he should take a year off, because E.
00:38:40
And I think the perception of D'Antoni it's so unfair.
00:38:44
Like he's It's so unfair.
00:38:47
Like the fact that he hadn't won a championship does not have anything to do with how good of a coach he is.
00:38:51
And it zits the thing we do with players to write like way pretend like Charles Barkley is not a winning player.
00:38:58
He's never won a championship.
00:38:59
Give me a break, right? Like John Stockton's not a winning player because the other one championships like stop it like like we need to stop doing this thing with players and coaches with rings, right? Especially for a coach that isn't even like he's not on the floor playing the game, get it? But like that Zilly to me, I don't know.
00:39:15
And I don't think he had an awesome Syria's against the Lakers.
00:39:18
But that was just like, what was his adjustment that he was gonna make after a while after you.
00:39:23
But after the Lakers put Anthony Davis at center, there was nothing that what did you dio that was the move, like you make them adjust to you, and then oh, it turns out that that's actually like when they're really, really unlocked, which is, like, kind of the skeleton key of everything for them.
00:39:37
What I tell you about Frank Vogel, man, what I tell you, Frank, you had some gems that if you haven't listened to that first episode, you have some gems.
00:39:45
I mean, Frank Vogel is an awesome coach you don't know why.
00:39:49
When he got hired by the Lakers, people thought that just because it was their third option, he wasn't going to be very good in that role.
00:39:56
Yeah, no, it's funny and stuff like that it is, and like I, I kind of like get Lakers overkill like I do feel like there's there's a nutrition level that happens a little bit quicker with the Lakers.
00:40:07
I have loved every single story I've read about them and how they came together this year.
00:40:12
I just think they're really fascinating, like the way they leaned into how they they play and just the buy in that they got from the beginning.
00:40:18
It's really cool. It's a cool story.
00:40:20
Um, you know, say what you want, but I think it's really cool.
00:40:23
So and it's it's credit to him.
00:40:25
I mean, he got LeBron James to buy in defensively.
00:40:28
I mean, you know what? Let's end on D'Antoni again, because I just want to circle back there because I think if he's gonna be in the N B A again next year, he should be at the top of every team that has an opening like they're like like he's probably the best coach on the market right now, especially especially since standing gun.
00:40:48
He's already got hired right, like he is the most proven coach out there.
00:40:52
He plays a modern style basketball.
00:40:55
You don't have to get him toe to buy into a modern style basketball.
00:40:58
He's already end.
00:40:59
He invented this stuff, right? Like you don't need to convince Mike D'Antoni to play Mori ball right.
00:41:05
And I think if he gets hired back contender next year, you'll show he'll show people once again why he's a really **** good coach.
00:41:13
I hope you get the championship.
00:41:15
I really dio.
00:41:16
I hope Maury ends his career with at least one championship.
00:41:19
Is looking unlikely at this point because he's, you know, he's in his seventies at this point, and you know there's not really any contender with an opening right now.
00:41:28
But if there is next season, uh, I hope he gets the job.
00:41:31
I'm trying to think, like, mentally who that would be for a contender next year. It's kind of tough.
00:41:37
Maybe the Bucks.
00:41:38
Maybe Maybe the Bucks, like try one year with Buddha.
00:41:41
Noser, right? Like, and this was if you're gonna like co Budenholzer.
00:41:46
This was the year that like Oh, but I know I thought that was a mistake.
00:41:48
I thought they should have brought him in.
00:41:50
I really thought they should have brought my kin.
00:41:52
I think that would have been a fit That makes a little bit of sense, um, similar to what they're doing.
00:41:57
But, you know, maybe just a breath of fresh air and guys that actually he actually plays his guys like I felt like the really easy adjustment to may.
00:42:05
But, I mean, you know, e can't blame them for for sticking with the guy.
00:42:09
That's one of those games.
00:42:10
I don't know how you feel about that, but clearly it's one that you thought about as well, right? I mean, buds, a good coach like buds are really good, coach, but, um, I don't know, like like it does seem like there's a playoff stealing for him, right? And I hate saying that about about coaches, but for him in particular, like he just cannot break this habit of like, players have to play 34 minutes a game, which is stupid.
00:42:36
Well, why would you limit your players to that? And why would you limit your honest to that? Most importantly, like like the non unionist minutes are ugly, Like we've seen it for years now, like the Bucks looked like a completely different team.
00:42:49
When he when he sits on the bench and going into the playoffs, like if you're talking about do or die, especially when you're talking about the closing games of that Siri's, you're like, You're kidding me.
00:42:59
You're not gonna play Yanis more now if you're not gonna play more now, when are you gonna play him, like, when? When is your back ever gonna beam or against the wall in the closing games? That that heat Siri's, Especially when you know there's all this chatter about your job security and about the honest, like potentially leaving.
00:43:15
It was it was bizarre.
00:43:17
I I don't know.
00:43:20
I mean, if that if he's not, if that's not gonna be the moment where he has a moment where he just sits there and he says, Okay, we just gotta I gotta break this mold.
00:43:27
I don't know what ISS like.
00:43:28
I guess it would be next year, but I don't know.
00:43:31
Tough look and tough comments from Yannis I wanna let you plug away anything you have coming up.
00:43:36
Anything that we should be all anxiously awaiting.
00:43:39
Yeah.
00:43:40
I mean, so my offseason review's gonna be coming soon on ESPN 975 with the Rockets.
00:43:45
We're gonna be talking about a lot of stuff I talked about on this podcast.
00:43:48
Um, and you know my newsletter.
00:43:51
Stay with rockets.
00:43:52
If you're Rockets fan, go ahead and subscribe to that.
00:43:54
My podcast.
00:43:55
Where nation hoops would do that.
00:43:56
Weekly guests from around the Rockets world.
00:43:59
And, you know, it's fun.
00:44:01
It's fun.
00:44:02
This This will be an interesting offseason for the rockets.
00:44:03
Uh, we talk about buds, buds back, being against the wall.
00:44:07
The rockets pack is definitely against the wall right now.
00:44:09
Eso It's gonna be an interesting offices in a very critical one for them.
00:44:13
Yeah, this is how many before we go.
00:44:16
Is this How many years do you think this is such a hot question? That's right.
00:44:21
At the very end with I've gotten I've gotten it. It's okay.
00:44:24
Uh, what's your what's your number for just throwing it out there.
00:44:28
So here's my thing.
00:44:31
Whenever I get this question, it's like the whole point of a rebuild right is to find a player like James Harden.
00:44:37
And most of the time, that player is not gonna be good as James as James Harden and, like just probability wise.
00:44:43
And you already have that player in hand.
00:44:47
And not only do you have that player in hand, you have a good roster around him, right? So in terms of, like likelihood of situation improving from here, it's very low.
00:44:58
And if you're Houston, I I think you hold on toe James Harden as long as James Harden has do right, because we know stars really have the power here, right? So if if Harden wants out, Harden gets out.
00:45:10
But as long as it hardened doesn't want out, you try your ass off to build the best roster around him until until you know the wheels fall off.
00:45:20
And I think in terms of rebuilding directions like yeah, you'll get, you'll get value for Harden.
00:45:24
Of course, you're gonna You're gonna get value for James Harden, but, um, it's it's the risk reward ratio.
00:45:32
It's just it doesn't it never ends up.
00:45:34
Even when you try to, superstar never ends up even.
00:45:36
There's a reason teams like like the cabs and the thunder and the Warriors like there's a reason those teams don't trade their star one of the last years of the deal.
00:45:45
Like they didn't trade Katie.
00:45:46
They didn't trade LeBron like the reason they don't do who that is.
00:45:50
Because the odds of you fighting a player like that after trading a player like that are very low.
00:45:57
So you just rather you play the odds. You keep the guy.
00:46:00
Yep.
00:46:01
You see the bucks doing that right now? All right.
00:46:03
Well, fair.
00:46:04
Thank you so much for coming on.
00:46:06
This was great. I, of course, will hit you up.
00:46:08
Next time we have something big and rockets related.
00:46:10
I'm sure there will be many stories coming up very soon.
00:46:14
And I appreciate you for coming on.
00:46:16
It's always good to see you.
00:46:18
Yeah, for sure.
00:46:19
It's a fun

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