July 21, 2015 at 2:18 pm

James Harden named MVP in Players’ Awards

James Harden celebrates Game 5Houston star James Harden was named by his peers as the NBA’s 2014-15 Most Valuable Player (MVP) at the first annual Players’ Awards ceremony, held earlier this week in Las Vegas.

Harden MVPThe program took place on Sunday, but will be televised Tuesday night on BET at 7:00 Central. The voting results were embargoed for television purposes, but photos showing Harden as the winner have leaked. Other MVP finalists were Golden State guard Stephen Curry, Cleveland forward LeBron James and Oklahoma City guard Russell Westbrook.

“Our players have long wanted to recognize greatness from within their own ranks, and with the first-ever Basketball Players Awards we have created a vehicle for them to do so,” said Michele Roberts, executive director of the National Basketball Players Association (NBPA). “The level of participation from players in the voting process has been overwhelming.”

The NBPA said it launched the ceremony after union members expressed a desire to vote for categories similar to the ones voted upon by media. In the media race, Harden finished second in MVP voting to Curry.

The push for the Players’ Awards began in February, when Oklahoma City star (and Harden’s close friend) Kevin Durant said he wanted to take end-of-season awards away from the media and into the hands of the players.

“They have too much power,” Durant said at All-Star Media Day, even though the media awarded him MVP in the prior season. “The players know each other inside and out. The media isn’t in the film room and goes for sexy names.”

Curry, who won this year’s media award, also agreed with Durant — saying that players know who is having the best year and stand out among their peers.

“I think (players) should have a portion of the vote,” Curry told the Dan Patrick Show. “Obviously we’re the ones playing against each other. So I think that should be a part of the vote, for sure.”

Harden scored a career-best 27.4 points per game last season along with 7.0 assists and 5.7 rebounds in leading the Rockets to the West’s second-best record (56-26), the Southwest Division title and their first Western Conference Finals appearance since 1997.

UPDATE: Here’s video of Harden winning the award and his acceptance speech.

Posted in Houston Rockets | Tagged , , |
July 20, 2015 at 7:24 am

Podcast: Ty Lawson, Houston Rockets Point Guard

Ty Lawson Houston Rockets Patrick Beverley

The Houston Rockets’ search for a second playmaker and scorer seemed to be eternal, but it looks like it has seen the end with Sunday’s trade for Nuggets point guard Ty Lawson.

David Weiner, aka “BimaThug” on the board, joined me on the podcast to discuss Daryl Morey’s big trade for Lawson and what it means for the Rockets. We also discuss their money/cap situation, the K.J. McDaniels signing, Josh Smith bolting for LAC and what’s next for the Rockets.

And oh by the way, that rumor of Chuck Hayes coming back to the Rockets? Out of nowhere, the Chuckwagon favorited this tweet.

Chuck Hayes Favorites ClutchFans Tweet

Maybe Alan Williams isn’t who the Rockets have in mind to replace Joey Dorsey.

Posted in Houston Rockets, Podcasts |
July 19, 2015 at 7:35 pm

Rockets acquire their second playmaker, land Ty Lawson from Nuggets


It happened — the Rockets finally made a big move this summer.

The Rockets landed a big playmaker Sunday night, acquiring Ty Lawson from the Denver Nuggets, as first reported by Yahoo! Sports. In exchange, the Rockets will send Kostas Papanikolaou, Pablo Prigioni, Joey Dorsey, Nick Johnson and a protected first-round pick in 2016.

On the offensive side of the floor, the Rockets get a big boost here. Lawson has been declining as a three-point shooter, but he’s a terrific penetrator and playmaker, averaging 9.6 assists a night last season for the Nuggets (third overall in the NBA, trailing only Chris Paul and John Wall). Defense is not his strong suit, but this is a guy who can make things happen and an attacker that defenses will have to contain — all things the Rockets lacked outside of James Harden.

As for what the Rockets gave up, this is a steal. Robbery. The Rockets needed to create roster spots, which they do here, and they gave up very little of value. The only real loss at all is the first rounder, and that appears to be protected. They even managed to keep Terrence Jones, who most felt would need to be in this type of a deal.

How did the Rockets acquire such a player for so little? Well, that’s the risk here. Lawson has been busted for two DUIs this year alone and clearly has a problem. He entered alcohol rehab last week. This is something the Rockets will have to be careful with — and the NBA may want to suspend him some games as well. The Nuggets clearly wanted to rid themselves of him, getting the two years and $25+ million remaining on his contract off their books.

On the floor, the Rockets now look strong at point guard, coming at you with a terrific offensive option in Lawson and a strong defensive option in Patrick Beverley. What was a weakness now may be a strength.

The roster spots are also important. The Rockets may now be able to keep a guy like Alan Williams, an undrafted rookie center who impressed in Summer League, now that they’ve unloaded Dorsey and his guaranteed deal.

Posted in Houston Rockets |
July 19, 2015 at 12:42 pm

Rockets bring back K.J. McDaniels on a three-year deal

K.J. McDaniels Houston Rockets

The Rockets can finally start making some moves.

The team has signed second-year forward K.J. McDaniels to a three-year, $10 million deal. McDaniels confirmed on Twitter that he’s back with Houston.

The Rockets were waiting on McDaniels, a restricted free agent, before spending any of their mid-level exception, a decision that may or may not have played a role in costing them Josh Smith.

Signing McDaniels directly also helps the Rockets. Had McDaniels signed an offer sheet and the Rockets matched, they would not have been able to trade him without his consent for a year. Going this route, McDaniels is more valuable as a trade asset to the Rockets.

That may be significant considering how McDaniels didn’t play much at all for the Rockets last season and, on paper, he would seem to be behind even another three in rookie Sam Dekker. McDaniels showed some real value in Philly last season as he has some insane athleticism and defensive potential, but needs to work on his shooting (28.7% from three last year).

Look for the Rockets to sign rookie power forward Montrezl Harrell, who looked good in Summer League, soon.

Posted in Houston Rockets |
July 16, 2015 at 3:34 pm

Josh Smith not returning to Rockets, will sign with Clippers

Josh Smith Rockets Clippers

Josh Smith has agreed to join the Los Angeles Clippers, according to multiple reports, taking less money to go there than we expected the Rockets to offer (non-Bird salary of $2.5M).

It’s a double whammy for the Rockets. They lose a talented big and he goes to a West contender desperate for bench help.

This is honestly surprising to me. I know Smith was frustrated with the Rockets and their handling of the MLE (first offered to Sergio Llull, now in limbo waiting for KJ McDaniels), but I heard many times that Smith wanted to be here, that he was close with Dwight Howard, James Harden and Corey Brewer and that he thought highly of Coach McHale. It wasn’t a significant amount of money, but he did take less to join Los Angeles, making us wonder how much interest the Rockets really had at all to bring Smith back.

Ironically, it was Smith who buried the Clippers last season, fueling an insane fourth quarter comeback in Game 6 that changed the series.

It’s still early, but this has not been a brilliant summer so far for Houston. They have mainly made auto-pilot moves, making their selections in the draft and bringing back Patrick Beverley and Corey Brewer. We certainly don’t need to remind any of the diehards that there is indeed a gap between the Rockets and the Warriors, and other West teams (such as San Antonio) have made strong moves this summer as well.

We’ll see what the mid-level exception brings the Rockets, but we’re still waiting for them to make some kind of upgrade.

Posted in Houston Rockets |
July 12, 2015 at 12:25 pm

Rockets sign guard Marcus Thornton

Marcus Thornton Houston Rockets

The Rockets finally added someone new to the team on Sunday, signing shooting guard Marcus Thornton to a one-year deal at the veteran minimum.

The 28-year old guard (more or less) confirmed the move on Twitter.

Thornton, a 6-foot-4 scoring guard, has bounced around the league but he can put up points — he once averaged 18.7 points per game in 2011-12. He put up 42 points in a game just a year and a half ago.

For his career, he shoots a hair under 43% from the field and 36.2% from deep. In 39 games with Boston last year, he connected on 41.9% from downtown (52-124).

There’s really nothing here to dislike. The Rockets desperately need some scoring punch off the bench and they potentially get that here with a cheap addition in Thornton. At the veteran minimum, there is absolutely no risk with the move and only potential reward.

Posted in Houston Rockets |
July 3, 2015 at 5:36 pm

Wolverine is back: Patrick Beverley re-signs with Rockets

Patrick Beverley Houston Rockets

The Rockets are keeping the band together.

After agreeing to terms with Corey Brewer on a three-year deal, the Rockets re-signed point guard Patrick Beverley to a four-year, $24 million deal on Friday.

The deal is for three years guaranteed at $18 million with the fourth year non-guaranteed.

Beverley tweeted that he’s “glad to be back.”

For the Rockets, it again looks like a good deal, getting Bev for around $6M per and syncing the guaranteed portion of the contract with Brewer’s, perhaps preparing for a free agent class in 2018.

Beverley, when healthy, is a terrific on-ball defender at the point guard spot, something the Rockets sorely lacked in the Warriors series. Keeping Beverley became even more important after the Rockets couldn’t convince Sergio Llull to come over from Spain.

Posted in Houston Rockets |
July 3, 2015 at 4:21 pm

Corey Brewer re-signs with the Rockets on a three-year deal

Corey Brewer celebrates

While the Rockets have been waiting on LaMarcus Aldridge’s decision before making moves, they took care of some important business on Friday.

Yahoo! Sports reports that the Rockets and Corey Brewer have agreed on a three-year, $24 million deal that keeps the small forward in Houston.

“I’m happy to be back,” Brewer told Mark Berman of Fox 26. “It’s the best place for me to have a chance to win a title.”

It’s a big move for the Rockets, especially considering how NBA salaries are again spiraling out of control this signing period.

The Rockets may only have a small chance of landing Aldridge, but if they do get so lucky, they almost certainly will have to move Trevor Ariza in a deal, making keeping Brewer even more important.

But regardless, Ariza and Brewer made life difficult for opponents last season by aggressively playing the passing lanes and that looks like it will continue to be a strength for this team.

Posted in Houston Rockets |