WHAT'S NEXT?

After Correa situation plays out, here are the next challenges for Houston sports

Don't be surprised if Correa heads to Detroit. Composite image by Jack Brame.

We can all use a breather after the thrilling, heart-pounding 2021 Astros season that propelled them – and the City of Houston – to a third American League pennant in five years and another visit to the World Series. Even though we – and the Astros certainly qualify as a citywide "we" –came up short in the Series, it was a fun run that made us proud. Simply, Houston loves our Astros.

Thankfully, here come the Houston Rockets and Houston Texans to lower our heart rates and bring us thudding down to reality. If the Astros were Red Bull, the Rockets and Texans are Xanax, the 2 mg. sticks.

The way things are looking, there won't be any must-win games leading to the post-season for either team. Hell, there'll only be most-lose games chasing No. 1 picks in future drafts.

While the NFL is in full swing, and the NBA is getting serious, the only sports excitement in Houston still revolves around the Astros. Will the Astros make a competitive bid to keep Carlos Correa? According to reports, the Astros have offered the hottest free agent since Macho Man Savage $160 million over five years. It's a fair offer … per year. But in baseball's current economic climate it's like the contestant on Price is Right bidding $1 hoping the other contestants are high-balling the price of a Whirlpool washer-dryer. While bidding $1 may be a douchey (it's in the Merriam-Webster dictionary) move, it works more than you think. And Correa definitely is the top prize in the showcase showdown this year.

Mark this down, but only if it comes true: I have friends in high places (low places, too) in Detroit – the Tigers will do whatever it takes to land Correa. That's where he's going.

Now Houston turns its lonely eyes to the Texans and Rockets.

The Texans are 1-8 in solid command of last place in the AFC South. They have scored the fewest points and given up the most points in the entire NFL. That's not good. Rookie Davis Mills is the lowest-rated quarterback in the league. The defense is porous and the offense is a bumbling mess of inefficiency and bad decisions.

Before the season, I predicted that the Texans would go winless, the first 0-17 team in NFL history. The Jacksonville Jaguars screwed up my clean slate by losing to the Texans in Week One. But the Jags have since won two games, while the Texans are reeling on a well-earned 8-game losing streak … and sinking fast. I say they'll finish the job and end 1-16 and get the No. 1 draft pick. Naturally there doesn't appear to be a lock star quarterback looming. Just the Texans' luck.

If the NFL relegated losing teams like English soccer does, the Texans would be playing in the SEC next season, and I'm not sure they could beat Georgia or Alabama. Let's make the Texans +350 to make the college football playoff.

The Texans have zero star power in Houston. How many pictures of Texans are on kids' bedroom walls? How many would you recognize? The coach looks like he's just woke up from a coma and fumbles for excuses in post-game press conferences. Wait, fumbles are something the Texans are good at. There's a positive.

While the term "clown show" is bandied about on sports talk radio, here's the biggest joke at NRG Stadium. According to official league records, the Texans are averaging 67,722 fans at their four home games so far. Seriously? Do the crowd-counters at NRG have double vision, which still wouldn't reflect the accurate crowd size? NRG is one step from tarping the upper deck, which still would leave plenty of elbow room for fans in the lower bowl. On the positive side, lines are short at restrooms and there are no traffic jams leaving the parking lot, except maybe in the third quarter.

It's a sad situation. You've got the highest-paid player, the only recognizable star on the team, sitting home on game day, the fans think the owner is a goofball, the real boss is an evil mystic who doesn't know a lick about football personnel. The Houston Texans are a civic embarrassment. Good thing Texas isn't a football state. Oh, wait.

Put it this way, the only team in the NFL with a worse record than the Texans is the Detroit Lions, and the Lions would be favored to beat the Texans.

Now the Rockets. Last year, the Rockets finished with the disastrous record (17-55), one of the worst seasons in NBA history. This year's Rockets (1-9) are off to an even worse start. And the same person who counts the crowd at Texans games must be pulling double-duty at Toyota Center.

Admittedly, this year's Rockets, led by high-flying rookie sensation Jalen Green, are a faster, more exciting team. But faster and more exciting don't win games. Like that game show, it's wins that count, and you are the weakest link Rockets, good-bye.

Now back to something that Houston fans actually care about …think Justin Verlander wants to stay with the Astros?

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Jae'Sean Tate had himself a night. Photo by Carmen Mandato/Getty Images.

No Christian Wood. No Kevin Porter Jr. No Jalen Green. No problem. Jae’ Sean Tate became a complete superhero for the Houston Rockets versus the Oklahoma City Thunder on Wednesday night.

He recorded 32 points, 10 rebounds, 7.0 assists, 5.0 blocks, and 2.0 steals and shot 73 percent from the field. With that stat line, he joined former Rocket Hakeem Olajuwon and other historic big men from the past, which Tim MacMahon reported.

Tate is known for his leadership and the ability to be humble. When a reporter asked Tate about the stat line, he said, “How many turnovers? Nah, 25 assists, that’s what sup! Can’t be mad at that.” An expression like that shows the importance of putting his teammates first before taking all the shine. Tate is providing more passion with communication and being the rock that the "Baby Rockets" can lean on.

Coach Silas' confidence in Tate is something built from last year and it shows. Those two have constant dialogue throughout the game, and it’s seen before the huddle or when Silas is standing on the sideline before he calls a play. Silas has run consistent sets for Tate, as he did that within the 15-game losing streak. He dialed up an out of bounds action with 33.4 seconds left, so Tate could make a clutch layup towards the rim.

“Long, long, long ago in his rookie year…we definitely have a bond and with those two guys out, we needed some scoring,” Silas said. “He was the guy who was playing the hardest from start to finish and down the stretch we ran that elbow iso for him. And he just went through his defender and finished. And he made some huge plays in the 4th quarter, which is what you need. Yeah, I trust him as much as anybody else, and he has earned that, and he deserves it.”

“That just shows the confidence Coach Silas, and my teammates have in me,” said Tate. “We lost some of our primary guys tonight. And not only me, but everybody also stepped up.”

His usage rating is slowly going up, which is posted at 18.9 percent per NBA stats. In isolation, Tate is averaging 1.00 points per possession, which puts him in the 75th percentile(!) per NBA stats. Tate is seeing more action out of the corner, so it can allow him to get to his left hand on offense. The elbow iso action is a play that Tate has run since high school, college, overseas, and in the NBA now. He mentioned that the set allows him to get comfortable when his number is called.

“That’s not my primary role and I think everyone knows that,” Tate said. “I am very confident [in] what I bring to the table offensively. Not only scoring wise but seeing the floor and being able to make [a] decision in space. And that kind of helps me when they overlook the scouting report.”

“[I've] been running that play since I was [in] high school. At Ohio St. I ran that. Even when I was overseas, Will Weaver, that was a play he put in. To have that called tonight, it felt familiar and it’s one of my strengths. And playing in the mid-post area and getting to my left hand.”

Tate was excellent for the Rockets on both sides of the ball, as he had a 116.9 offensive and 108.5 defensive rating with an 82.5 percent in true shooting versus the Thunder. Hopefully, Tate can be the leading catalyst again, as the Rockets face the Orlando Magic and New Orleans Pelicans, which are winnable games. It should become a six-game winning streak, as John Wall might play if his condition is right.

Up next: The Rockets face the Orlando Magic on Friday night.

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