February 4, 2015 at 11:50 am

The latest news on Dwight Howard’s knee is not good at all

dwight howard knee The latest news on Dwight Howards knee is not good at all

The Houston Rockets released an update this morning on Dwight Howard’s knee, and it’s not exactly encouraging:

This morning Dr. Walt Lowe of the Memorial Hermann Sports Medicine Institute conducted a bone marrow aspirate injection on Rockets center Dwight Howard’s right knee. Howard will begin rehabilitation immediately and will be re-evaluated in approximately four weeks.

We went from twisted ankle to this. Howard, who has missed the last four games, will miss a minimum of 13 more over the next four weeks, but the procedure that he underwent shows that the knee issue they’re trying to tackle is more serious than something that would just require rest.

The Rockets are known for not revealing much about player injuries, as we saw for some time with Terrence Jones, and we certainly don’t have all the facts about Dwight’s knee here, but a bone marrow aspirate injection suggests a cartilage issue. Dwight revealed as much back in early December, but it was hard to take his words as an actual medical diagnosis. Not anymore.

“The problem was my cartilage was wearing down, and it’s been wearing down because I’ve been playing basketball for a very long time,” said Howard at that time. “When you have the bone rubbing on bone, it brings a lot of pain.”

When there’s a cartilage issue in the knee and the words “bone on bone” are used, microfracture surgery is always feared.

Again, I’m not pretending to know the details of the situation and am in wait-and-see mode like the rest of us, but it’s hard to be too optimistic after reports like this.

UPDATE: While it’s still clear there has been some cartilage loss in Dwight’s knee, Dr. Walter Lowe did provide that optimism, speaking with local Fox’s Mark Berman to provide some context on why they went forward with the procedure.

It’s a biologically active injection that helps almost everything heal in the knee. We took some bone marrow out of his pelvis. It gives us some young, very strong platelets with a lot of healing factors. I think his prognosis is great. This is something we did today to try to hasten the recovery time. It’s really a shot. It’s not a surgical procedure. It’s a 20 minute deal. I don’t think it’s a big deal. We want to do everything we can to give Dwight the best chance of being back as fast as he can be back. The other side of that is we want him to feel like Dwight and be one hundred percent when he comes back. This sort of mixes those two things together. I think he would get well even without this today. We’re really treating this like a bone bruise. There is nothing structurally wrong with his knee. That soreness is what we’re trying to get rid of. So we’re really basically treating a bone bruise. The time frame for these bone bruises to heal is in that 4-6 week timeframe. The most important thing for Dwight is his pain (to be) gone. That’s more important than what the MRI is going to show me in four weeks. As long as we’re seeing a combination of bone bruise gone away (and) symptoms being better, then that’s when we’ll start the transition back to the court. What makes this heal is essentially rest. I would certainly expect him before the playoffs. I hope we have quite a few games before the playoffs. I really expect him to recover and play again this season.”

Posted in Houston Rockets |
January 20, 2015 at 12:06 pm

Podcast: The Halfway Point for Rockets

Dwight Howard James Harden

We’re just past the halfway point of the season, with Houston sitting at 29-13 on the year. The Rockets have won six of their last eight games, but their two losses — a disappointment in Orlando and an embarrassment at home to Golden State — have revealed a lot about them and shown that they still have a lot of progress left to make.

MK Bower of CultureMap joins me on the podcast from the Toyota Center following the 110-98 Rocket win against the Indiana Pacers on Monday. We discuss the recent play of the Rockets, the need for more on-court synergy between James Harden and Dwight Howard, how Josh Smith and Corey Brewer have fit in and the lack of obvious trade targets for the Rockets with the February trade deadline on the horizon.

Posted in Houston Rockets, Podcasts |
January 5, 2015 at 12:17 pm

Houston Rockets Salary Cap Update

Josh Smith Corey Brewer Houston Rockets

Back in October, I wrote that (a) the Houston Rockets had enough room to use the Jeremy Lin trade exception, possibly the Bi-Annual Exception (BAE) and still use salary matching rules to take on additional salary and (b) the luxury tax would not be a significant deterrent for Rockets owner Leslie Alexander.

Well, Rockets GM Daryl Morey has been busy following this very plan.
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Posted in Houston Rockets |
December 24, 2014 at 12:41 pm

Josh Smith agrees to sign with the Houston Rockets

Josh Smith Houston Rockets

It’s happening.

As first reported by Yahoo! Sports, Josh Smith will be a Houston Rocket. The 6-foot-9 forward was shockingly cut by the Detroit Pistons earlier this week and will clear waivers at 5:00pm Eastern Time today, paving the way for him to sign with the Rockets.

As discussed in the podcast on Monday, this seemed like it was going to happen based on the behind-the-scenes chatter at the Toyota Center. There were too many reasons for this marriage not to occur — Smith has history with the city of Houston and has wanted to be here in the past, he is close friends with Dwight Howard (his former AAU teammate) and the Rockets could extend to him their bi-annual exception (roughly $2.1 million), something other contenders could not offer.

There are several intriguing possibilities here with Smith. It’s a low-risk, potentially high-reward move for the team’s depth that could bolster the bigs rotation and put the Rockets in a better position to make another trade. As a result, it will be interesting to see how this impacts the future of either Terrence Jones or Donatas Motiejunas in Houston.

That’s not to say that Smith doesn’t have his flaws. Smith shot a career-low 39.1% from the field for the Pistons this season (just 24.3% from three-point range), and that’s on high volume (14.0 shots per game). His shot selection has been panned by fans and media for years. But the big hope is that he can make a real impact defensively and in transition — two of his strong suits historically. Meanwhile, on the offensive side of the ball, playing a lesser role next to the likes of James Harden and Howard could make the game easier for Smith.

But at this price, there’s not much to dislike here. If it doesn’t work out, Daryl Morey and company haven’t risked much at all in terms of cap or dollars.

Some highlights of Smith’s last season with the Pistons:

Posted in Houston Rockets |
December 23, 2014 at 10:25 am

Podcast: On Corey Brewer’s Debut and the Looming Josh Smith Signing

Josh Smith Houston Rockets James Harden

MK Bower of CultureMap joins me on the podcast from the Toyota Center after Houston’s 110-95 win over the shorthanded Portland Blazers. We discuss the win, James Harden’s monster performance (44 points on 14-26 shooting), the Corey Brewer trade and his debut and the looming signing of free agent forward Josh Smith.

Posted in Houston Rockets, Podcasts |
December 19, 2014 at 1:52 pm

Rockets trade for Corey Brewer, Alexey Shved

corey brewer houston rockets Rockets trade for Corey Brewer, Alexey Shved

The Rockets made good on their intention of pulling off a trade by December 19th, acquiring small forward Corey Brewer from the Minnesota Timberwolves and guard Alexey Shved from the Philadelphia Sixers today. The deal was first reported by Yahoo! Sports.

As part of the deal, the Rockets will send guard Troy Daniels along with a 2015 second round pick from Sacramento (via the Jason Terry trade), Houston’s 2016 second round pick (protected for picks 31-45) and cash. The Rockets also send their 2015 second round pick and the rights to Sergei Lishouk to Philly for absorbing Ronny Turiaf’s $1.5 million expiring deal. Houston uses part of the trade exception they created in the Jeremy Lin trade last summer to absorb Brewer’s contract.

To make room for Shved, the Rockets have released Francisco Garcia.

“A great situation, it’s going to be great,” Brewer told the Minnesota Star Tribune. “Playing with guys like Dwight Howard and James Harden, they’re in a playoff race. They have a good team. I think I can come in and help that. That they wanted to trade for me and think I can help, that means a lot.”

“I’ve got lots of room for more rings,” said Brewer, who won an NBA title with the Dallas Mavericks in 2011. “Last time I went to Texas, it worked out. Make it 2-for-2 in Texas, the Texas Two-Step.”

At 6-foot-9, Brewer is a good defensive player that can cover both guards and small forwards. Despite playing only 28 minutes a game, Brewer is currently the league leader in steals at 2.3 a night. He can agitate and plays with a lot of energy, often gambling to steal passes in the lane.

So in Brewer, Houston adds a rotation piece at the wing spot. The Rockets (and their #2-ranked defense) needed to add some depth there as they have relied heavily on Trevor Ariza, who is playing a career-high 38.4 minutes a night — the second-most minutes of any player in the NBA this season, trailing only Jimmy Butler’s 39.8.

How Brewer will fit offensively, where his skills are a little more limited, is the better question. The ideal defensive role player for Houston would also have the ability to knock down the open three-point shot, but Brewer has no three-point range — he’s shooting 19% from distance this season and has hit just 29.1% from beyond the arc over his eight-year career. But he’s active on the offensive end. He is more of a slasher and often takes off in transition for easy layups. He is capable of a random big game, as we all remember his 51-point night against the Rockets last season.

The Rockets wanted to make a deal by December 19 so they could also be in a position to make a bigger deal down the line. By acquiring Brewer and Shved now, they will be eligible to be combined with other players in a trade in exactly 60 days — in other words, just before the NBA trade deadline in February.

Shved is not much of an offensive player, hitting just 36% from the field and 29% from three-point range for his career, but his $3.3 million expiring salary could later give the Rockets the flexibility to possibly keep a Jason Terry or Kostas Papanikolaou if a deal for a bigger contract does present itself at the deadline.

Posted in Houston Rockets |
November 25, 2014 at 10:49 am

Is James Harden leading the early MVP Race?

James Harden MVP

Despite being short-handed in nearly every game this year, the Houston Rockets are 11-3.

MK Bower of CultureMap joins me on the podcast from the Toyota Center after Houston’s 91-86 win over the New York Knicks. We discuss the win, the current state of the Rockets and how James Harden’s play is warranting serious MVP consideration.

Posted in Houston Rockets, Podcasts |
November 22, 2014 at 12:34 pm

Talking Rockets Depth Issues and Trade Possibilities with David Weiner

Houston Rockets podcast

The Rockets got off to blistering start but have cooled off considerably since returning from their game in Mexico, firing blanks from the outside and running into health issues with Terrence Jones and Dwight Howard missing games — and their schedule is about to get much tougher.

But the biggest thing that seems to be biting them right now is their lack of depth, particularly with their big man rotation.

David Weiner joins us on the podcast to discuss Houston’s bench depth issues, his recent article about the possible shift in cap strategy by the Rockets and potential trades to explore.

Posted in Houston Rockets, Podcasts |