The Houston Rockets came into this NBA season with a lot of optimism, and how could they not. Houston won 65 games last season, which was the best record in basketball, and was possibly a Chris Paul injury away from beating the Golden State Warriors in the Western Conference Finals. That was last year.
So far this season, things have changed for the Rockets. After 23 games, the Rockets are 11-12. With Trevor Ariza and Luc Mbah a Moute gone, and with the failed Carmelo Anthony experiment, the Rockets are not playing the way they did last season.
While former Rocket Chucky Brown, who won a championship in Houston back in 1995, believes the Rockets can turn it around, he does not think the team will be as good as they were a year ago.
“I think they can turn it around. I don’t think they will have the year they had last year,” Brown recently told the Go4it podcast hosted by Paul Gant. “Trevor Ariza is gone. He was a big piece. I think they defended a lot better last year. I think they can turn it around and play better than what they been playing, but I don’t see them having the same type of year. I don’t see them going to the Western Conference Finals. I don’t see that.”
Chris Paul and James Harden have both missed time with injury this season, so you can look at that as one of the reasons for the slow start, but the Rockets had great chemistry last season and they don’t have that this season.
I think Brown’s assessment is correct. Houston will get better, but they don’t have the chemistry to have the success they had last season; at least not right now.
Update: Here’s a statement from the NBA on the suspensions:
Houston Rockets forward Trevor Ariza and guard Gerald Green have each been suspended two games without pay for entering the Los Angeles Clippers’ locker room to confront a player from the opposing team, it was announced today by Kiki VanDeWeghe, Executive Vice President, Basketball Operations.
The incident occurred following the Clippers’ 113-102 win over the Rockets on Jan. 15 at Staples Center. During the league’s investigation, which included more than 20 interviews with executives, staff, coaches and players from both teams, as well as arena personnel, it was determined that Ariza and Green entered the Clippers’ locker room immediately after the game and engaged in a hostile, verbal altercation with several Clippers players. The league’s investigation further concluded that Rockets players, James Harden and Chris Paul, followed Ariza and Green into the corridor outside the locker room in an effort to defuse the situation, and accordingly, discipline is not warranted.
Ariza and Green will serve their suspensions during the Rockets next two games, Jan. 18 vs. Minnesota and Jan. 20 vs. Golden State.
Rockets G Chris Paul came back to Los Angeles to face his former the team the Clippers, but it was not very festive. Paul would get into it with his former Clipper teammate Blake Griffin, which reportedly led to the Rockets’ James Harden, Gerald Green, and Trevor Ariza trying to get into the Clippers’ locker room to confront Blake Griffin and Austin Rivers.
The Inside the NBA found this whole situation funny.
Their reaction was hilarious!
Take a look:
Clippers G Patrick Beverley asked and received a trade from the Rockets. Beverley was apart of the deal that sent Chris Paul to the Rockets back in June. The 29-year-old Beverley told ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski on The WoJ Podcast why he requested a trade:
“I asked for it. I asked for a bigger opportunity, a bigger chance to display my skills on a high level. And I was fortunate that the Rockets did really good with me and put me in a situation where I can thrive and be successful. They could have really dumped me anywhere, but they did right, and I respect them a lot for it,” explained Beverley.
Beverley should have a bigger opportunity with the new look Clippers. While he is not Chris Paul, Beverley is a tenacious defender, and a decent replacement.
Beverley averaged 9.5 ppg, 4.2 asts, and 5.9 rpg with the Rockets last season.
At one point, it seemed that Carmelo Anthony was headed to the Rockets. Now, with a new GM, the Knicks are reportedly open to keeping Anthony in New York. Former NBA player Mychal Thompson, who is the father of the Warriors’ Klay Thompson, believes that Anthony to the Rockets makes them a serious threat to the Warriors, but he does not believe it is enough.
“Overtake the Warriors? I don’t think so, but they’ll be a serious threat to the Warriors,” Thompson told TMZ Sports. “You add Carmelo Anthony to Chris Paul and James Harden, you gotta take them serious.”
Simply put, Thompson believes the Warriors are a special team.
“They just know what it takes to win. They got something special in Oakland.”
Melo to the Rockets definitely gives Houston a chance against the Warriors. Is it enough? I would say no, but injuries can happen. If one of the “Big 4” in Golden State goes down, Houston could supplant the Warriors with Melo, but all things equal, GSW is still the better team.
Update: The Clippers trade Chris Paul to Rocket for Lou Williams, Patrick Beverley, Sam Dekker, Montrezl Harrell, DeAndre Liggins, Darrun Hilliard, Kyle Wiltjer ,2018 first-round pick (top-three protected.
According to ESPN’s Marc Stein, the Houston Rockets are a serious threat to sign Chris Paul. The 32-year-old Paul recently opted out of his contract with the Clippers.
Last season, James Harden played the point guard position for Houston, but, according to Stein, Harden is very interested in having Paul join the Rockets. Harden has told Paul directly that he wants him in Houston, according to Stein
In order to make this happen, the Rockets would have to create some cap space. Houston has reportedly made Lou Williams, Ryan Anderson, and Patrick Beverley available.
If they can find a way to create cap space, maybe Paul to Houston could be a reality.
There has been a lot of talk about the future of Chris Paul with the Clippers. The San Antonio Spurs reportedly might pursue Paul, who is expected to opt out of his contract and become an unrestricted free agent this summer. However, Clippers president/coach Doc Rivers believes that Paul will stay in Los Angeles. When asked by TMZ Sports if Paul is going to stay with the Clippers, Rivers said “absolutely.”
It might be a tall order for the Spurs to sign Paul anyway. According to ESPN, the Spurs would possibly have to do the following:
Spurs would have to renounce the rights to looming free agents Manu Ginobili, Patty Mills, and Jonathan Simmons as well as potential free agents Dwayne Dedmon and David Lee.
They may have to make other moves as well to make it work.
Plus, the Clippers could offer Paul more money (53 million more). End of the day, the Spurs are cap-strapped; therefore, I don’t see it happening.
However, if there is a will, there is a way!
The Los Angeles Clippers season, just like last season, ended in the first-round. Many believe that the Clips need to make some moves in the offseason to get over the hump. Suns F Jared Dudley agrees. “Keep Doc (Rivers) one more year. No GM, maybe coach. Trade one of the big three, and you good,” Dudley told TMZ Sports. When asked which one he would trade, Dudley said “Trade Blake.”
Dudley is familiar with the Clippers. He played with the Clippers in 2014.
We’ll see what Doc Rivers has in store for the Clippers.
The Clippers bow out again in the first-round of the NBA Playoffs. Losing a game seven to the Utah Jazz in Los Angeles 104-91. The Jazz move on to face the Warriors, while the Clippers deal with an uncertain future. Both Blake Griffin and Chris Paul can opt out of their contracts. After the game, Paul was asked what the Clippers need to do to get over the hump. “Luckily, that’s not my job. My job is to come in try to make sure I’m in the best shape possible. Try to lead our team, and stuff like that,” Paul said. “That’s not may job to maneuver whose here or whose there.” When asked about what he might do in the off-season, Paul said he has not thought about it.
Paul has played the most playoff games(76) in NBA history without going to a conference final. Paul finished game 7 against Utah with 13 points and 9 asts.
Should be an interesting next few months for the Clippers!