March 24, 2015 at 1:00 pm

Dwight Howard set to make his Rocket return Wednesday in New Orleans

dwight howard return Dwight Howard set to make his Rocket return Wednesday in New Orleans

The hints were there that he was close and Kevin McHale alluded to it in post-game on Monday, but it’s now happening…

Dwight Howard will make his return to the court for the Houston Rockets on Wednesday in New Orleans as the Rockets take on Anthony Davis and the Pelicans.

“We plan to play him unless what we did today bothers him,” McHale told the Houston Chronicle’s Jenny Dial Creech after practice on Tuesday.

Howard, who has missed 39 games this year, including the last 26 with this knee issue, will have 12 games left to hopefully find his groove before the playoffs begin. The Rockets have an immediate need in the middle as well as Terrence Jones is out and recovering from a partially collapsed lung while Josh Smith is nursing a rolled ankle.

Posted in Houston Rockets |
March 19, 2015 at 11:52 am

Vernon Maxwell speaks openly about… everything

Vernon Maxwell Houston Rockets

If you know the Rockets history, you’re aware that Vernon Maxwell has basically been a ghost in Houston since his NBA playing days. So it was a huge surprise that Maxwell agreed to come to the Toyota Center for the Rockets Championship Reunion Thursday night at halftime of the Rockets game against the Denver Nuggets.

In fact, getting the chance to talk to Maxwell was such a catch that I bailed immediately on a Rudy Tomjanovich interview the moment I saw Maxwell started speaking to the media.

Mad Max didn’t disappoint.

Maxwell spoke openly about his days with the Rockets and the unfortunate end when he and the team parted ways after Game 1 of their first round playoff series against the Utah Jazz in 1995. Maxwell admitted he felt “disrespected” by the trade for Clyde Drexler and said he regrets how he handled it.

“I handled it the wrong way,” said Maxwell. “I shouldn’t have left the way I left. I got upset because they brought Clyde in and nobody ever said anything to me about the trade. I just felt like they disrespected me. Then we went to Utah and played in Utah the first game. I didn’t really play and I felt disrespected again.”

“I overreacted like I normally do,” added Maxwell. “Bad decision. I wish it wouldn’t have happened.”

He also talked about his much-discussed defense on Michael Jordan.

“I wanted to fight him, really,” said Maxwell of Jordan. “That’s what I really wanted to do.”

And the idea that the Rockets won championships because Jordan went to play baseball?

“Google it,” said Maxwell. “I say just Google the times we played them. They couldn’t beat us. Like we couldn’t beat Seattle? If we get past Seattle, we get to the championship and we knock Chicago off. We were a team they couldn’t match up against.”

There’s so much more here to write, but to get you started, check out the full interview:

Vernon Maxwell Rudy Tomjanovich

Posted in Houston Rockets |
March 5, 2015 at 4:33 pm

NBA admits they botched the no-call on James Harden’s late drive

James Harden bad call

The NBA released their “Last Two Minute” report, reviewing the calls made by officials in the final two minutes of Wednesday’s games, and the league ruled that the no-call on James Harden‘s late drive against the Memphis Grizzlies was “incorrect.”

“Randolph (MEM) makes contact across Harden’s (HOU) arm/wrist, causing him to lose the ball on the drive to the basket,” said the report.”

See: Full Report

With the game tied at 100 and just seconds remaining, Harden was blatantly fouled across the arms on a drive by Zach Randolph. No foul was called. Memphis quickly called timeout with 5.4 seconds left, Marc Gasol hit the game-winner with 0.1 ticks showing and that’s the way the cookie crumbled.

The game, pitting two of the top three seeds in the West against each other with a tiebreaker on the line, was huge for both squads and the lack of a call there had a significant impact on the outcome. It really wasn’t a tough “call” to make, then or now, as the video evidence shows.

Harden had plenty to say in the locker room after the play.

Posted in Houston Rockets | Tagged |
March 2, 2015 at 10:19 am

James Harden makes his play for the throne

James Harden LeBron James

What a game!

James Harden and LeBron James battled head-to-head on Sunday in a nationally-televised matchup between two strong NBA teams and a couple of MVP leaders.

Sportswriter MK Bower of CultureMap joins me from the Toyota Center as we tackle several topics after Houston’s 105-103 overtime win over LeBron and the Cavaliers. We discuss the clash between two NBA icons and everything that went along with this classic game, Trevor Ariza’s defensive impact, Terrence Jones‘ emergence, Donatas Motiejunas‘ rebounding woes and Daryl Morey’s decision to pass on Goran Dragic at the trade deadline.

Posted in Houston Rockets, Podcasts | Tagged , |
February 19, 2015 at 2:19 pm

Rockets acquire KJ McDaniels, Pablo Prigioni in deadline trades

houston rockets kj mcdaniels pablo prigioni Rockets acquire KJ McDaniels, Pablo Prigioni in deadline trades

Daryl Morey’s deadline day streak is still alive.

The Houston Rockets sent out multiple second-round picks today, acquiring small forward KJ McDaniels from the Philadelphia Sixers for Isaiah Canaan and Denver’s 2015 second round pick, then sent Alexey Shved and second round picks in 2017 and 2019 to the New York Knicks for point guard Pablo Prigioni.

The deals were first reported by Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports.

McDaniels is a surprise. The 6-foot-7 rookie wing, who just turned 22, is a high flyer with good defensive potential. He is averaging 9.2 points on just 39.9% shooting, 3.8 rebounds and 1.3 blocks in 25.4 minutes a night. He also is rare in that he was a second round pick that took a one-year deal, making him a restricted free agent this summer.

Prigioni is an older player at 37, but he’s a career 41.4% three-point shooter in the NBA and keeps the turnovers down. It could be a sneaky addition here.

The Rockets missed out on a potential major boost to their needs when Goran Dragic was traded to the Miami Heat, one of the teams that he apparently was willing to re-sign with. The Rockets were stung by Dragic’s unwillingness to re-sign with Houston, and Houston’s offers had to reflect that. Surprisingly, several other bigger name point guards — Isaiah Thomas, Michael Carter-Williams, Brandon Knight and Reggie Jackson — were also traded and the Rockets were not involved in any of those moves.

On the bright side, the Rockets hold on to their best two draft pick assets — the 2015 first round pick of the Pelicans, which would currently be a late lottery selection, and the 2015 second round pick of the Knicks, which would currently be the top pick of the second round.

KJ McDaniels Highlights

Pablo Prigioni Highlights

Posted in Houston Rockets |
February 16, 2015 at 2:04 pm

Is Goran Dragic to Houston suddenly possible?

If you’ve been reading ClutchFans or the forums at all for the last seven months, you know there has been one overriding focus and trade target that has consumed the fans — how do the Rockets get Goran Dragic back in Houston?

There’s just been one problem — that has looked pretty much impossible.

That may be changing. The Suns lost five of their last six games going into the break and are now barely holding on to the 8th spot in the Western Conference, just a half-game ahead of the now-healthy Oklahoma City Thunder. Suns general manager Ryan McDonough recently confessed that the team’s “roster balance is a little off” and that they are “a little too backcourt heavy” and President of basketball operations Lon Babby added that the the Suns plans to be active at the trade deadline. Surprising no one, ESPN reported that the Rockets are “plotting a renewed attempt to try to convince the Suns to part with Dragic”.

David Weiner joins me on the podcast to discuss the Dragic possibility and others as we approach the NBA Trade Deadline this Thursday. We discuss why Dragic is the best (and perhaps only) fit on the market, weigh the Donatas Motiejunas question and touch on the Charles Barkley-Daryl Morey feud.

Goran Dragic Houston Rockets

Posted in Houston Rockets, Podcasts |
February 14, 2015 at 9:17 pm

Patrick Beverley wins the 2015 All-Star Game Skills Challenge

Let’s be honest — very few expected this. But Patrick Beverley has been doing this kind of thing throughout his career: When very few expect much out of him, he surprises.

Beverley won the All-Star Game Skills Challenge Saturday night, defeating a talented pool of point guards to take the crown. He went head-to-head and beat Isaiah Thomas of the Phoenix Suns, Jeff Teague of the Atlanta Hawks and strong>Brandon Knight of the Milwaukee Bucks to become the 2015 Champion.

“I hope Coach McHale was watching,” joked Beverley. “Maybe I can get some plays now.”

It didn’t hurt that Beverley had Mr. Hakeem Olajuwon in his ear during the competition.

Patrick Beverley Hakeem Olajuwon

Here’s the full video of Beverley in the competition.

Beverley also spoke to the media after the event. Here is the full press conference.
Patrick Beverley Skills Champion

Posted in Houston Rockets |
February 11, 2015 at 1:32 pm

If there’s an ‘idiot’ here, it’s Charles Barkley

Charles Barkley Daryl Morey

By now you’ve heard about Charles Barkley blasting Daryl Morey and the analytics movement in the NBA after Tuesday night’s game.

After Barkley said at halftime that the Rockets were “one of the two worst defensive teams in the NBA”, a claim that is truly ridiculous, Morey responded with a tweet:

Barkley then went into the tirade against Morey in post-game that is full of more holes than the street meat he craves.

But what was really eye-opening was that Barkley said Morey, who he called an “idiot”, has only made the obvious moves of adding superstar talent.

“He went out and got James Harden and Dwight Howard and (he’s) going to tell me that’s analytics,” said Barkley.

Interesting, because here’s what Barkley had to say about the Harden trade at the time. Two days after Morey pulled off the deal and gave him the then-controversial $80 million contract, Barkley went on ESPN’s Pardon The Interruption (full audio) and said how great of a trade it was…

… for the Thunder.

I love the Oklahoma City trade. I think that trade made them better. I’m a Kevin Martin and Jeremy Lamb fan. I like that trade a lot for them.

Host Tony Kornheiser then asked Barkley point blank if he felt Harden was a “foundational player the way the Rockets apparently do.”

I do not. I do not see him like that for the simple fact (that) being an instant offense off the bench, when they’re going to give you the ball every time and you’re the dominant scorer, it won’t work like that when you’re in a traditional offense.

Ouch. Harden, currently riding back-to-back games of 40+ points, is now considered by many to be the NBA’s MVP leader this season. This is revisionist history at its finest. Barkley would have you believe this was an obvious move, yet he himself did not see this coming out of Harden.

On the other hand, Morey — as well as many others who believe in so-called “analytics” — did.

“We feel like James Harden is a player we can build around. He’s an elite offensive player, a complete player. I still think he’s an underrated player,” said Morey the day after the trade. “He’s absolutely someone that, when they see him step into the role of a star with the Houston Rockets, people are going to realize just how good he is.”

Added Morey: “To win the title, you have to have a foundational player, and James is that.”

And if you like watching Barkley flip flop, here’s a more recent case as Barkley completely changes course on Josh Smith (who he implied last night was an obvious addition by Morey) in the span of a month, going from a mistake signing to the second-best player on the team who needs 10-15 shots a night.

However, what is being lost in the shuffle of an unnecessary debate over analytics is the history that sparked Morey’s tweet in the first place — Barkley’s consistent hatred for the Houston Rockets that has spanned for years now. It’s hard to believe this is a player who donned the uniform for four seasons and said at the time that he wished he had played his whole career here.

Posted in Houston Rockets |