March 2, 2016 at 2:45 pm

Rockets sign guard Andrew Goudelock

Andrew Goudelock Rockets

The Rockets didn’t waste much time using their roster spots, making an addition to their backcourt on Wednesday by signing guard Andrew Goudelock from the Xinjiang Flying Tigers of the Chinese Basketball Association.

The Rockets are quite familiar with Goudelock as he played with the Rio Grande Valley Vipers, Houston’s D-League affiliate, in 2012-13, winning the NBDL MVP that season when he averaged 21.1 points, 5.2 assists, 3.9 rebounds and 1.3 steals.

Goudelock is a 27-year old 6’3″ shooting guard who can score and shoot from distance. He was drafted by the Lakers 46th overall in the 2011 draft, playing for Los Angeles that season and in one game the following year. He has bounced around overseas since then, playing in Russia, Turkey and most recently China.

The fact that Goudelock can connect from deep is a welcome addition to the Rockets. He shot over 41% for his career from three in college at Charleston and playing in one of the tougher leagues in Europe in 2014-15, he hit 46% from beyond the arc while averaging 17.1 points per game.

Posted in Houston Rockets |
March 1, 2016 at 1:14 pm

Rockets waive Ty Lawson


I can’t think of a trade that looked so incredibly lopsided for one team at the time that turned out this poorly for that same team.

The Rockets completed a buyout with Ty Lawson on Tuesday, waiving the guard less than a year after acquiring him in a trade with the Denver Nuggets.

Lawson never panned out for the Rockets. He looked like a poor fit as the season started, then his game just seemed to disappear altogether. He never showed the penetration ability and attack mentality that he did in Denver and was a defensive liability. The Rockets are 7-0 this season in games where Lawson did not play.

Despite Lawson’s poor play, there was no need to buy out Lawson until the failed deadline day trade with the Detroit Pistons, a move that had gotten the Rockets under the luxury tax. With that trade vetoed, the Rockets turned to discussing buyouts in order to save money. They also create a roster spot in the move.

While the Rockets did not lose any significant players from their roster in acquiring Lawson this past summer, they are still on the hook for a 2016 first round draft pick owed to Denver from the move. The pick is lottery-protected. If the Rockets don’t make the playoffs, they keep their pick and instead will send a second round pick to Denver, a fact that has some Rockets fans already preferring the team miss the postseason.

As for Lawson, it will be interesting to see where he ends up from here — and if he can recapture his game.

Posted in Houston Rockets |
February 22, 2016 at 1:25 pm

Pistons void Donatas Motiejunas trade

Donatas Motiejunas trade voided

The Detroit Pistons, after getting an extra 24 hours on the trade window to approve physicals, are set to void their deadline day trade with the Rockets, according to Yahoo! Sports. They did not like the condition of Donatas Motiejunas’s back and won’t approve his physical.

I know many fans love D-Mo — myself included — but this is not good news for the Rockets.

They lose out on the first round pick from Detroit, a valuable asset in either a trade or for adding a young player. They are now over the luxury tax. And the worst news? A team that was in love with Motiejunas (Detroit) determines that they don’t want him based on the physical. That likely means they saw long-term back issues.

The Rockets are not in a good spot here. They now bring back two players in D-Mo and Marcus Thornton that they actually traded while still trying to make things work with a handful of others that they tried to trade. Yes, many will draw comparisons to the 1994 trade, also with the Pistons, of Robert Horry and Matt Bullard for Sean Elliott that the Rockets later vetoed based on a physical, but keep in mind — back then, the Rockets were getting back the healthy players.

As for D-Mo, he will be back for the final 26 games with the Rockets then enter restricted free agency this summer.

Posted in Houston Rockets |
February 19, 2016 at 10:44 am

Podcast: On the D-Mo Trade and Houston’s uncertain future

Houston Rockets Trade Deadline

The Rockets didn’t trade Dwight Howard, and for that matter, they didn’t trade Ty Lawson either. But surprisingly, they did trade Donatas Motiejunas.

David Weiner, aka BimaThug, joins the podcast to discuss Houston’s trade with the Detroit Pistons that sent D-Mo and Marcus Thornton north in exchange for a top-8 protected draft pick. We also discuss the moves they didn’t make and what lies ahead for the Rockets the rest of this season and the now critical 2016 offseason.

Posted in Houston Rockets, Podcasts |
February 18, 2016 at 2:20 pm

Dwight Howard staying in Houston for the rest of the season


We’ve grown used to this with the Rockets — hyped trade deadlines that result in little to no movement.

That was the case Thursday as the NBA trade deadline arrived. The Rockets did make a move to trade Donatas Motiejunas to the Pistons, but the big trade didn’t happen. They were said to be shopping Dwight Howard but no trade materialized and he will stay in Houston for the rest of the season.

According to Adrian Wojnarowski, the Milwaukee Bucks showed late interest but no trade came together.

It creates an interesting situation now as it appears Howard is clearly in a lame duck spot. He can (and is expected to) opt out this summer. The word is since the Rockets have balked at giving him the full max, he wants to go elsewhere. Rocket brass hasn’t exactly had a great relationship with his agent, Dan Fegan, so they do run the risk of losing him for nothing this offseason.

But one thing this trade deadline taught us is Dwight may have a tough time finding another team willing to give him the max.

The Rockets are 27-28, just outside of the playoff picture in the West. With just 27 games left in the season, they don’t have a lot of time to change the direction of this team.

Posted in Houston Rockets |
February 18, 2016 at 11:30 am

Rockets trade Motiejunas, Thornton to Pistons for first round pick

Donatas Motiejunas trade

The Rockets have lots of issues on the court and a pressing need to make changes, but this one was surprising.

Houston traded Donatas Motiejunas to the Detroit Pistons on Thursday along with Marcus Thornton for a protected first round pick and Joel Anthony, according to Yahoo! Sports. The Rockets have reportedly sent Anthony and his contract to the Sixers, sending Philly a second round pick for taking on the remaining salary.

The pick is reportedly top-8 protected this season. The Pistons, currently a .500 team at 27-27, are a half-game back of the playoffs in the East. However, they now add Motiejunas and acquired Tobias Harris from the Magic earlier in the week.

Motiejunas has been battling a back injury since late last season, having played in only 14 games this season. He’s been back and forth between Houston and Rio Grande Valley for rehab stints and was nearing a return to an NBA court.

D-Mo was a key part of the Rockets last season, especially when Dwight Howard was injured. In 41 games with Dwight out, D-Mo was the team’s second-leading scorer, averaging 13.8 points on 58.8% shooting and a blistering 42.2% from three-point range. The Rockets were 27-14 in those games.

I had heard concerns about his back injury, but I didn’t think the Rockets would want to part with him. Motiejunas, like Terrence Jones, will hit restricted free agency this summer. Ever since he’s been with the Rockets, I’ve heard nothing but glowing reviews about how hard D-Mo works.

Thornton, who signed a league minimum deal with the Rockets this past offseason, was averaging 10.0 points this season. He was streaky, hitting 33.8% from three-point range. Joel Anthony and his $2.5 million contract, with a friendly team option for next season, was necessary for the salary match but he will go to the Sixers.

The Rockets, if they make the playoffs, will be without their own first round pick this summer (it will go to Denver from the Ty Lawson trade), so this move gives Daryl Morey a chip in the draft game (which I do really like), but it’s still a bit of a shock. It looks like the Rockets are thinking ahead on salaries, going for another dirt-cheap four-year rookie deal over the cost it would take to keep Motiejunas. One thing I will say is that with salaries expected to spiral out of control this summer and next, draft picks, with their set rookie scale salaries, are going to become more valuable.

There was no way the Rockets were going to be able to re-sign both Jones and Motiejunas. Only the Rockets know if they planned on matching sizable offers for D-Mo. If they didn’t, this obviously is a pretty good move to get a solid first round pick for someone who will walk this summer.

Granted, there is still time left before the deadline for additional moves, but the trade threw fans off because it doesn’t take care of any of the on-court problems that we’ve seen this season. Motiejunas, despite being injured, has not been part of a failed defensive unit or the cause of poor chemistry. The Rockets still have work to do to make those kind of repairs.

Posted in Houston Rockets |
February 17, 2016 at 3:09 pm

Trade Deadline won’t be able to fix all of Rockets’ problems

Dwight Howard James Harden

To say this has been a disappointing season for the Houston Rockets would be an understatement.

All-Star break is over and the games are about to pick back up, but not before the NBA trade deadline comes and goes on the 18th. As we are about 24 hours from the deadline, I want to talk a little bit, editorial-style, about what I see from this team and what general manager Daryl Morey has on his plate.

  • The #Pursuit is over. The Rockets have spent 50-60 games desperately trying to get back to the level they were at last season, and that wasn’t really close to good enough to beating last year’s Warriors, much less this year’s version. They may get their act together, make the playoffs and maybe even surprise somebody, but a championship? No. In my opinion, all trades considered should place a heavy emphasis on 2016-17.

  • If the Rockets are a “broken” team, as J.B. Bickerstaff puts it, then the repair is needed on the defensive end, which is supposed to be Bickerstaff’s specialty. Houston’s offensive rating is the exact same as it was last season — 104.2 points per 100 possessions. Defensively, they have fallen completely apart. The Rockets’ defensive rating last season was 100.5 points allowed per 100 possessions, good enough for 6th best in the league. This year that rating has plummeted to 106.4, dropping them to bottom 5 with the likes of the Lakers and Suns. So the multi-million dollar question is: How does a team starting Dwight Howard, Trevor Ariza and Patrick Beverley fall that far defensively?

  • Harden came into training camp out of shape — no one disputes that at this point. But while the Rockets have had plenty of issues this season, all the major problems, directly or indirectly, can be traced back to this start. The Rockets are 10 games behind their pace last season, Kevin McHale was fired 11 games in, Dwight Howard is on the trading block… I don’t know if some or all of those things are true right now if Harden is ready to go out of the gate this season. He is both the problem and the solution. He’s a top-5 offensive talent and a bottom-5 defensive effort guy. He’s the face of the franchise, yet no one in the organization is able to hold him to a standard. Despite all this, this is the team’s only untouchable. Unless the Rockets find a coach that has more power and pull than Harden and demands his respect (and outside of Pop and Phil Jackson, does such a coach even exist?), they run the risk of future problems based on effort.

  • As for Howard being shopped, I admit I was surprised by that. Not because it doesn’t make sense — if Howard’s agent made it clear he wants the max and the Rockets aren’t willing to go there, they should absolutely gauge the market. I was more caught off guard because Rockets owner Les Alexander is such a star-seeker that I didn’t think he would even consider unloading the one guy who said “yes” to all those free agent pitches over the years. I’m still not convinced it will happen for sure. The two teams that make the most sense to me are Boston and Atlanta. The Celtics would seem to want to take a leap forward now and have the rebuilding assets (picks) and a large expiring contract in David Lee. Atlanta is Dwight’s hometown and the Hawks have been considering a shakeup. But I agree the market won’t be big for what could amount to a 30-game rental… I don’t know if either team would part with what Morey would want. I would do cartwheels to be able to get the Brooklyn Nets’ first round pick that Boston holds, but they’re not going to part with that. Morey needs to find at least two very interested parties if he’s going to do well in any trade.

  • I like Dwight Howard and will be a fan of his even after he’s wearing a different uniform, but there is an argument to be made that the Rockets might be able to build a better team without him. Maybe. Certainly, when your defensive rating is this poor, it’s going to be hard to see the upside of Howard, who is supposed to be one of the best defensive anchors in the game, but the Rockets have won their last six games this season without Dwight. Last season, they were 27-14 without him. If the Rockets do move Dwight, they may just embrace the poor defense and go all-in on offense.

  • I don’t understand how Ty Lawson is this bad. I really don’t. Most of us recognized, even before acquiring him, that he wasn’t the ideal fit next to Harden, but he has been a complete zero for this team, even off the bench. If you look at his efficiency, per-36, advanced numbers, it’s like his career fell off a cliff. I just don’t get it. And remember — he represented the big improvement the Rockets made this summer, the one that was supposed to launch them into real title contention. There were a handful of analysts who picked the Rockets to win it all because of this addition. Earlier this season, I felt the Rockets should hold on to Lawson because the potential upside of him “getting it” was much, much higher than the scraps you’d probably get in return. Now I’m not so sure.

  • Before there was talk about a core change (moving Dwight), the biggest need in my opinion was a power forward upgrade. The Rockets can throw a lot of bodies at the spot, but they don’t have the right fit, which is one reason they’ve been going small with a lineup of Ariza and Corey Brewer at the three-four. Donatas Motiejunas had back surgery over 10 months ago and he’s still not right, having played in only 14 games this season. Clint Capela is lost out there at times and has struggled with stamina, rebounding and even dunking lately. I know he’s young and raw and has the length you want out of a big, but if his value is that of a blue-chip prospect, I’d consider selling high. Terrence Jones hasn’t made sufficient strides in the four years he’s been here and doesn’t excel at any one facet that the Rockets need out of the position. He’s also dealt with some bizarre injuries over the last year — a “DNP – Abducted by Aliens” box line wouldn’t surprise me at this point. A restricted free agent this summer, Jones needs a new home. It’s just time.

  • I was pretty sure K.J. McDaniels was going to get traded before the wheels came off on this team. Now, it’s pretty clear that all options are being considered. It also sure would be nice to get a look at Sam Dekker at some point. Granted, that will be in Rio Grande Valley once he’s fully cleared after his back surgery, but I want to see what he’s got.

  • The Rockets owe their first round pick to Denver courtesy of the Lawson trade, something the Nuggets are no doubt loving right now given Houston’s struggles. But while Morey has taken criticism this year, you have to credit him for adding two protections into this trade, both of which didn’t seem critical or necessary at the time but now appear to be extremely important. One, they got Lawson to agree to convert the second year remaining on his deal into a team option, which is unheard of. Two, the first round pick is lottery-protected, and if the Rockets miss the playoffs this year, the first round pick does not carry over. Rather, the debt becomes a 2017 second round pick (via Portland). Needless to say, Denver is rooting for Houston to be the 8th seed.

  • If I’m the Rockets, I would continue to place a premium on shooting. I don’t think there are any perfect trade targets (unless we’re talking about Al Horford), but some that make some sense to me are Ryan Anderson, Markieff Morris, Kevin Martin, Marvin Williams and even Pau Gasol.

Posted in Houston Rockets |
February 9, 2016 at 8:06 pm

Former coach Kevin McHale discusses his firing from the Rockets

McHale CroppedAs a guest analyst on TNT’s Inside the NBA studio show before Tuesday night’s Rockets/Warriors game, former head coach Kevin McHale spoke publicly about his firing from the Rockets for one of the first times since his November dismissal.

“I kind of wish I was sitting in Oracle (Arena) getting ready to play Golden State … I think,” McHale said jokingly after being introduced by the studio crew.

When asked if he was surprised by Houston’s decision to fire him after a 4-7 start, McHale said:

“Yes. I went in and had said we had a rough camp. A lot of guys were injured. Dwight [Howard] couldn’t do back-to-back practices and was not going to be able to do back-to-back games until December. James [Harden] had sprained his ankle over the summer and came in overweight.

“We weren’t playing very well. I had told our guys at the end of training camp… that we were a month to six weeks away from having our team gelling and playing well. So we got off to a tough start.”

On the actual November 18 firing:

“I came in and sat down. They said, ‘You’re fired.’

“I was like, wow. It really, really surprised me. I did not think that was the case. I never had a team that I have not been able to get motivated and get going. We weren’t playing well. I’ll be the first to admit that. But it was so short. Eleven games.

“I thought maybe the [Western Conference Finals berth] would have bought me more time. I guess not. We won 56 games the year before and got to the Western Conference Finals with that same exact team, for the most part.”

McHale’s full comments can be viewed below. He filled in for Kenny Smith as part of TNT’s studio team, joining host Ernie Johnson and analysts Charles Barkley and Shaquille O’Neal.

McHale was later asked about the recent wave of coach firings, including Brooklyn’s Lionel Hollins, Cleveland’s David Blatt, Phoenix’s Jeff Hornacek and New York’s Derek Fisher.

“If your name isn’t Gregg Popovich — rent, don’t buy,” McHale said. “There are so many players with so much pull inside the league. It’s just rough right now in the coaching profession.”

UPDATE: After the Rockets-Warriors game, McHale said he wishes he was still coaching in Houston.

Posted in Houston Rockets | Tagged , , , |