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.
The Houston Rockets are playing some excellent basketball right now. Currently, the team is on a 16-game win streak, including their 122-112 victory over the Thunder last night in Oklahoma City.
Right now, Houston has the best record in the NBA, have an MVP caliber player in James Harden, and seem poised to make a long run in the playoffs.
While Houston has all the makings of a championship caliber team, some still have their doubts.
ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith is one of them.
Here is what he had to say about the Rockets on ESPN’s First Take today:
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.
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.
The NBA announced the three finalists for MVP today. Russell Westbrook, Kawhi Leonard, and James Harden were the top three vote getters for MVP. One name that was missing is LeBron James. Based off what we seen during these playoffs, King James might be the real MVP. However, the MVP award is based on the regular season, so it’s kind of hard to argue with the three finalists.
LeBron addressed the snub after the Cavs 130-86 victory over the Celtics in game 2 of the Eastern Conference Finals: