July 18, 2014 at 2:47 pm

Full Audio: Trevor Ariza Conference Call with Media

It’s been a rough week for the Rockets — I know I’ve still got a lot I want to say — but the Trevor Ariza addition could be a good one for the team.

Ariza spoke with the Houston media on Friday via conference call and we’ve made the full audio of that call available. Trevor spoke of how he’s become a more mature player since his previous stint with the Rockets. He also expressed excitement to be playing with James Harden and Dwight Howard and also touched on what he can bring to the table in replacing Chandler Parsons.

Posted in Houston Rockets |
July 15, 2014 at 10:49 am

Rockets sign Joey Dorsey to a two-year deal

Joey Dorsey Houston Rockets Barcelona

“Ray Lewis with a basketball” is back.

The Rockets have signed former Rocket and current Barcelona center Joey Dorsey to a two-year, $2 million contract, according to Yahoo! Sports.

This could be a good, low-cost, low-risk move to pick up a serviceable big that fills a need. Dorsey, a 6-foot-9, 270+ pound center, could take the backup center role behind Dwight Howard.

Dorsey was largely considered a bust of a draft pick by the Rockets in 2008. The Rockets passed on big men Omer Asik and DeAndre Jordan to take the University of Memphis center with the 33rd pick. Dorsey played in just 10 games — a grand total of 60 minutes — for the Rockets over two seasons before being a throw-in to the Carl Landry-Kevin Martin trade with the Sacramento Kings.

But Dorsey left the NBA in 2011 to play overseas and he has established himself there. He won a EuroLeague title in 2012. He returns as a more experienced player. Some of his highlights last season:

The Rockets are doing some damage to the FC Barcelona roster right now. They’re taking their starting center and should be signing their starting small forward Kostas Papanikolaou soon.

One thing Dorsey did give us in his original time with the Rockets? The most entertaining Rockets press conference I’ve ever attended.

Posted in Houston Rockets |
July 13, 2014 at 4:01 pm

Chandler Parsons joins the Dallas Mavericks as Rockets elect not to match contract

Chandler Parsons Contract

The Rockets have stunningly elected not to match the 3-year, $46-million contract offered to Chandler Parsons by Dallas, allowing Parsons to become a member of the division rival Mavericks.

The news was first reported by the Houston Chronicle‘s Jonathan Feigen, who cited a team source as saying the “decision largely came down to whether the Rockets were good enough with a big three of Harden, Howard and Parsons.”

“[They] ultimately decided they would not be a championship team and would have no room to build,” the source said.

Sources previously said the Rockets planned to match Parsons’ offer if Chris Bosh had signed with the Rockets, as expected. In that scenario, Parsons would have been the team’s fourth-best player.

Trevor Ariza, who agreed to terms with Houston on Saturday, will likely replace Parsons as the team’s starting small forward.

The Rockets, of course, could have had Parsons as their starting small forward in 2014-15 at a paltry salary of near $1 million, if they picked up the final option year on his original NBA contract. But general manager Daryl Morey opted to send Parsons into restricted free agency in an effort to negotiate what they hoped would be a friendlier long-term deal.

Instead, the move seems to have backfired, as Parsons now leaves Houston for no compensation.

Posted in Houston Rockets |
July 12, 2014 at 3:36 pm

Rockets to bring back Trevor Ariza on a four-year, $32 million deal

Trevor Ariza signs back with the Houston Rockets

Look who’s back.

The Rockets have agreed to a four-year, $32 million deal with small forward Trevor Ariza, according to Sam Amick of USA Today Sports. Yahoo! Sports reports that the contract is on a declining scale to increase the team’s flexibility moving forward — $8.6 million in 2014-15, $8.2 million in 2015-16, $7.8 million in 2016-17 and $7.4 million in 2017-18.

It’s unclear what this means for Chandler Parsons, the team’s current starting small forward. The Rockets must decide by Sunday night whether to match Parsons’ offer sheet from Dallas (three years at $46 million) or let him go to the Mavericks. It does not change their ability to match.

This is Ariza’s second tour of duty with Houston. The Rockets signed Ariza in 2009 to replace Ron Artest, dealing him to New Orleans a year later in a three-team trade that brought Courtney Lee to the Rockets.

However, this is a much different situation for Ariza and the Rockets. In 2009-10, the 6-foot-8 forward was asked to be more of a primary option while he would be a complement to superstars James Harden and Dwight Howard this time around.

Ariza, who just turned 29 years old, fits the 3-and-D template the Rockets are looking for. He had a career year in Washington last season, averaging 14.4 points, 6.2 rebounds, 2.5 assists and 1.6 steals per game. He provides strong perimeter defense and three-point shooting.

The Rockets are trying to shore up their defense, particularly on the perimeter. Ariza helps here — he’s not quite a lockdown defender, but he has no problem taking the assignment to guard the opponent’s best wing player. With a 7-foot-2 wingspan, he can make it difficult on many guards and forwards in the league.

Ariza also hit a blistering 40.7% from long range on 442 attempts last season. If that success rate from downtown continues, he could be the team’s best three-point option next season — he both shot more threes and made more than Parsons last year. In particular, catch-and-shoot threes are important in Houston’s system for complementary players spreading the floor. Parsons, for example, shot the 7th most catch-and-shoot threes per game in the league last year, taking 4.3 attempts per game at 38.5%. Ariza was even higher volume from there (5th in the league at 4.5 attempts) and hit 44.9% on catch-and-shoot threes.

It was a contract year, but if that kind of success is no fluke, the Rockets picked up a terrific fit here for their system.

Here are some highlights from his career-high 40-point game in March.

  • Trevor Ariza past highlights with Rockets

  • Posted in Houston Rockets |
    July 12, 2014 at 12:01 pm

    Life after Bosh: Why matching Parsons and focusing on 2014-15 should remain a priority

    chris bosh chandler parsons 2 Life after Bosh: Why matching Parsons and focusing on 2014 15 should remain a priority

    Was Friday disappointing to the Rockets? Yes. But franchise-altering, as some suggest?

    It shouldn’t be.

    Losing out on Chris Bosh at the 11th hour was an offseason gut punch that Houston fans know all too well. But unlike the infamous “basketball reasons” saga that nixed the Pau Gasol trade in 2011 followed by the failed Dwight Howard pursuit in 2012, it must be remembered that Daryl Morey and these Rockets are no longer playing from a weak hand.

    In Howard and James Harden, the Rockets arguably have two of the NBA’s top 10 players. In the duo’s first year together, they won 54 games in a brutal Western Conference and showed significant improvement as the season went along. And after trading Jeremy Lin and Omer Asik, the team has financial flexibility to upgrade its bench and return as an even more talented group in 2014-15.

    There’s one wild card in the mix, though, and it’s that pesky 3-year, $46-million offer sheet that Chandler Parsons signed with Dallas. The Rockets have until 10:59 p.m. on Sunday night to decide whether to match, and after missing out on their expected addition of Bosh, it’s unclear what Morey will decide to do in their “Plan B” scenario.

    In short, it boils down to one root issue: Is the current Houston roster worth going all-in for? By matching Parsons and his roughly $15 million/year salary, it would all but eliminate the possibility of the Rockets having maximum cap room for foreseeable free-agency periods. It would, however, secure Howard, Harden and Parsons as the team’s core and allow the Rockets to fully commit to finding the best role players to optimize their success, starting immediately.

    It’s not as sexy as the planned All-Star roster with Bosh. But after letting the initial sting wear off, it’s time to remember that the gap between these Rockets and true contention is not “max player” wide.

    In these eyes, the Rockets are too close to turn back. Here’s why:

    Organic growth is coming

    It’s easy to forget, but the Rockets were already poised to improve in 2014-15 simply from within. They went 54-28 (65.9%) in the first year of the Howard era, a mark that included a 21-13 (61.8%) transition period of November and December as the Rockets adjusted to having the league’s best center on both ends of the floor. Their 33-15 (68.8%) pace in 2014 would extrapolate to 56 or 57 wins over a full schedule – in other words, putting them right in the standings mix with Oklahoma City and the Los Angeles Clippers and closer to the 2/3-seed range than the 4/5/6-seed level.

    Even the LeBron James-era Heat, likely the most talented free agency or trade-built team in the modern era, didn’t hit their full stride until Year 2 and Year 3. The Year 1 Heat (2010-11), even playing in the weak East, lost 24 games and weren’t a No. 1 seed. It took until 2012-13, the team that went 66-16 and reeled off 27 consecutive wins, for Miami to reach maximum efficiency.

    So the idea that the current Rockets aren’t a contender because they went 54-28 in Year 1 and lost one playoff series isn’t something I’m willing to accept. Improvements in team chemistry and individual growth from young players including Harden (24), Parsons (25), Terrence Jones (22) and Pat Beverley (26) were already going to make the 2014-15 Rockets better than the 2013-14 group, regardless of any new additions. They did lose Lin and Asik from the bench, but…

    Financial flexibility to improve depth

    Yes, losing Lin and Asik, if looked at in a vacuum, would weaken the rotation. But the roughly $17 million in cap room they have for the next 36 hours (or staying above the cap and using the trade exceptions and other exceptions beyond that), along with a probable lottery pick from New Orleans to use as trade bait, gives the Rockets ample opportunity to actually upgrade.

    Think of it this way: if Lin and Asik were on the free-agent market now, and the Rockets had $17 million to spend to upgrade their current roster, would those be your first two calls? My guess is no. Asik, for all his strengths, was limited to being a 15-to-20-minute player most nights because of the presence of Howard. Lin was an average-at-best (and wildly inconsistent) three-point shooter and turnover prone, not ideal traits for a complementary backcourt mate to Harden.

    Versatile forwards and guards with legitimate three-point range and defensive skills on the perimeter are better fits for the Houston rotation than Lin and Asik, and there are several such candidates available in free agency as well as the trade market that can fit into $17 million of space.

    Where Parsons fits in

    It all comes back to the Parsons decision, of course. Even with $17 million in space, it would be unreasonable to expect the Rockets to fully replace the contributions of Lin, Asik and Parsons. That team would take a step back, with an organizational focus of looking ahead to 2015 free agency.

    In terms of title contention, the 2014-15 season would be over before it even started, and a year of Howard’s prime would be squandered. (Think Howard would remember that in 2016 free agency?)

    To me, that scenario is unacceptable, unless the Rockets believe the only realistic route to winning a championship involves acquiring a third All-Star. While it would be nice, I don’t see it as necessary. Assuming Parsons is retained, the combination of organic growth from a young core of players and bench upgrades to Lin/Asik could easily bridge the gap between the mid-50s win total the Rockets had a season ago and the upper 50s-to-60 range of legit West contenders.

    Bosh may have been the perfect fit, but he’s not the only fit. The Rockets are already playing with a strong hand, and folding for the outside shot of pocket aces down the road doesn’t seem practical.

    Posted in Houston Rockets |
    July 11, 2014 at 1:10 pm

    Rockets trade Jeremy Lin to Lakers

    jeremy lin traded Rockets trade Jeremy Lin to Lakers

    Jeremy Lin’s Houston Rocket career is over.

    The Rockets unloaded Lin and his $15 million salary for 2014-15 to the Los Angeles Lakers on Friday. To get the Lakers to absorb Lin’s contract, the Rockets sent their first round pick in 2015 plus an additional second round pick (2015 pick from the LA Clippers, only conveyed by LAC if between 51-55) to the Lakers. The Rockets also received the rights to Sergei Lishchuk.

    It’s clear that Daryl Morey and the Rockets are full steam ahead in their cap room pursuit to sign Chris Bosh and sending out Lin was always a necessary step.

    The move could be good for Lin, who was born in Los Angeles and grew up in California (Palo Alto). The Lakers, who fell short in free agency this summer, can now try their cap room plan again in 2015.

    As for the Rockets signing of Lin in 2012, it was ill-fated from nearly the beginning and one of the bigger mistakes of the Daryl Morey era. He never quite meshed with James Harden and moved to the 6th man role last season.

    The bigger goal is Bosh, who the Rockets hope to sign this weekend before having to match Chandler Parsons’ offer sheet from Dallas. The Rockets still need to execute the Omer Asik trade and it’s likely they are looking into moving Donatas Motiejunas and/or Terrence Jones as well.

    Posted in Houston Rockets |
    July 10, 2014 at 2:42 pm

    Chandler Parsons won’t be getting a free pass any longer

    Chandler Parsons

    The NBA is a business.

    That much we know and it was confirmed again on Thursday when Rocket restricted free agent Chandler Parsons agreed to a three-year, $46 million deal with the rival Dallas Mavericks. The offer sheet was signed by Parsons at an Orlando nightclub with Mavericks owner Mark Cuban grinning by his side.
    Read More

    Posted in Houston Rockets |
    July 3, 2014 at 12:55 am

    The Jeremy Lin-Carmelo Anthony jersey controversy is ridiculously overblown

    carmelo anthony locker room The Jeremy Lin Carmelo Anthony jersey controversy is ridiculously overblown

    No doubt by now you’ve heard about the uproar being caused by Jeremy Lin’s fans on Wednesday after the Rockets, in their pitch to Carmelo Anthony, displayed artwork at the Toyota Center showing the superstar free agent in a Houston jersey wearing the number 7.

    Only one problem — that’s Jeremy Lin’s number, and he’s still with the Rockets. Lin himself turned to Twitter to express that he felt disrespected.

    Lin’s tweets sparked a controversy (even PTI got in on the act) when, in reality, this is business as usual in the NBA. Are the Rockets supposed to not depict a superstar free agent in the number he wants because their backup point guard currently has that number? Did the Dallas Mavericks refuse to display Melo in a Mavericks number 7 jersey because it might hurt Ricky Ledo‘s feelings?

    Rockets general manager Daryl Morey spoke very candidly about it on Wednesday.

    “It’s always a challenging situation during free agency,” Morey said in an interview with FOX 26 Sports outside the Toyota Center. “You are always having to recruit players and there might be current players at current positions, might be people with the current numbers. It’s unfortunate that it’s often hard to handle.

    “Reality is it’s standard practice. When we went after Chris Bosh a few years ago, we had him in (Luis) Scola’s number. When we went after Dwight Howard he had (Pat) Beverley’s number. I get the sensitivity and I hate that it creates some hurt feelings. I don’t like that, but that’s obviously Carmelo Anthony’s number, that’s the number he wants. He told us that.”

    Our Rockets forum (and my twitter timeline) filled up, with many of the Jeremy Lin crazies rallying around images like this one, claiming that the organization is lying and that the Rockets never used Beverley’s number 12 on Howard artwork.

    Of course, this image was after Dwight signed with the Rockets and his number was established. There was no pitch at the Toyota Center (it was in Los Angeles) and Morey is telling the truth. How do I know? Because I saw the actual pitch that was made to Howard last summer, and it used Beverley’s number 12.

    rockets dwight howard pitch 2 The Jeremy Lin Carmelo Anthony jersey controversy is ridiculously overblown

    rockets dwight howard pitch 1 The Jeremy Lin Carmelo Anthony jersey controversy is ridiculously overblown

    You would have to be living under a rock these past few months to not know that Jeremy Lin is going to be traded. We wrote about it as soon as the season ended and hammered it home again three weeks ago. The Rockets don’t have cap room and need to move Omer Asik and Jeremy Lin to create it.

    “Bottom line, if Carmelo comes, Omer Asik and Jeremy Lin have to be traded,” said Morey. “It’s just math. It’s not personal. My job is every day figure out how to win. Sometimes it creates challenging situations.”

    Posted in Houston Rockets |