Every-Thing Sports

Jermaine Every: Some names to watch as possible future Rockets

Gerald Green was an underrated signing. Is there another one out there to be made? Rockets.com

LeBron has opted out of his contract with the Cavs and decided to sign a four-year deal with the Lakers. Paul George decided to stay with the Thunder. The Rockets went on to re-sign Chris Paul to a four-year, $160 million-dollar deal, although they lost Trevor Ariza to the Suns. The team is also in negotiations with restricted free agent Clint Capela. The Rockets have the right of first refusal since Capela is restricted. Meaning, if another team signs him to an offer sheet, the Rockets have seven days to match. So far, no team has signed Capela to an offer sheet. This bodes well for their chances to retain him at a relatively decent salary, and sans any poison pills. Also, bringing back Gerald Green on a veteran minimum deal was underrated.

So what’s next for the Rockets? What will they do now? They drafted a couple guys in the second round in De’Anthony Melton (6’4, 200lbs) and Vincent Edwards (6’8, 225lbs). Melton is a slashing defender, while Edwards is a solid 3-point shooter. Neither is expected to contribute much this season. If I had to say who is more likely to see more valuable court time this year, I’d say Edwards. He can step into the small forward/wing role vacated by Trevor Ariza. Melton may only see garbage time, or may earn more time as a defensive replacement.

There are still free agents to pursue that can help this team. But the team doesn’t have the cap space to sign any high dollar guys and will once again have to bargain buy. Here are a few guys I believe Daryl Morey can secure at a reasonable price:

Avery Bradley, Guard

Bradley is the type of “three and D” guy you need on the perimeter. He’s a proven veteran who remains unsigned. Paul has an extensive injury history and Bradley can provide valuable backcourt depth. Someone like him can aid in the loss of Ariza as he can help fill the quarterback of the defense role on the court. UPDATE: Bradley agreed to a deal with the Clippers.

Isaiah Thomas, Guard

I know. I know. He’s a wee fella that’s a defensive liability. But his scoring punch off the bench at the backup point guard spot could work wonders. Thomas had an injury-plagued year and may be willing to take less money and a lesser role to rehab his image in hopes of one last payday.

Luc Mbah a Moute, Forward

His shoulder injury wasn’t fully healed and it seemed to affect him mentally in the playoffs. He’s 31 now and shouldn’t command much more than a veteran minimum contract to return to the Rockets. It’d be worth it to see if he can be the contributor they expected him to be last year.

Jeff Green, Forward

Green missed the ’11-’12 season due to a heart issue. Now that he’s been back and playing well for a few years, his love of the game has been evident. Last year, he proved valuable for the Cavs’ run to the Finals. A long athletic guy that is a willing defender and can score would be a welcomed edition.

Jamal Crawford, Guard

Crawford is a consummate professional who won the NBA Teammate of the Year Award in his 18th season. Crawford is a scoring savant still at age 38. The Warriors and Sixers are teams rumored to be in pursuit. This signing would not only strengthen the Rockets, but keep a potential scoring threat away from their biggest rival.

Honorable Mention:

Alex Len, Center; Jahlil Okafor, Center; Rodney Hood, Forward; Yogi Ferrell, Guard

All of these guys are still out there and unsigned after the initial wave of free agency. None of them should command an outrageous salary because none of them are superstar caliber players. The Warriors just got even stronger with the addition of Demarcus Cousins (I have thoughts on this tomfoolery, but that’s another article). The Rockets can’t match talent with them, so they’ll need to add pieces that fit their puzzle. The better pieces, the better the fit, the better their chances are of knocking off the Warriors. Oh…and they have to watch out for that guy in Los Angeles also.

 

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Texans vs. Vikings could have fans in attendance. Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images

The Houston Texans say it's time that fans were allowed to cheer on the home team at NRG Stadium. On Thursday, the team announced extensive safety protocols that would put 15,000 fans in the stands for the Week 4 game against the Minnesota Vikings on Oct. 4.

While the Texans are awaiting permission from city and county officials to host a limited number of fans - socially distant and wearing masks – no plans have been announced how much tickets will cost, and who'll have the opportunity to buy them.

You have to love the free enterprise system: hundreds of tickets for the Oct. 4 game already are on sale on secondary market websites. Lower bowl tickets are going for $800 and up. If you don't mind sitting in the nose bleeds, tickets can be had for around $250.

So the question becomes, if you had the chance, would you attend the Texans game in early October? The tickets are big bucks, and there is a whammy – COVID-19. While the rate of COVID-19 infections is on the decline in Houston, the virus remains a major factor in our daily lives, and there's no guarantee that the pandemic won't spike here again.

Here's the rub, at least for me. Of all the sports we have in Houston, a Texans game might be lowest on my wish list of attending in person. Television does NFL games the best. There are dozens of cameras, so when a receiver catches a pass on the sidelines, we get several views, in slow motion even, to see if the receiver's feet were in bounds. We can almost feel the crunch of a quarterback sack. We get highlights of other games. You don't have to sit next to a face painter like David Puddy.

The NFL is a made-for-TV production. Which is, I suspect, part of the reason the Texans rarely open the roof at NRG Stadium. With the roof closed, the field becomes a controlled TV studio, with no worries of weather pranks.

Television doesn't do basketball or baseball nearly as well. Conversely, the experience of attending those games is terrific fun. What beats eating a couple of dogs at an Astros game? Is there even a traditional food at NFL or NBA games?

The Texans promise that strict safety rules will be enforced. And I believe them. Fans will be scattered over the 67,000-seat stadium. I'm not sure how much of a home field advantage that will be. Most of the crowd noise will come from pre-recorded tapes.

Here's one worry. Sure fans will sit apart and socially distanced. But what will happen when the game is over? Will fans file out in orderly, non-contagious single file? I flew Southwest a few weeks ago. The airline makes a big deal – we don't sell the middle seat. Passengers kept their distance during the flight. When the landed, you know how it is, everybody got up and piled into the aisle, shoulder to shoulder for several minutes.

What will happen if some goofball takes off his/her mask during the Texans game? Will there be enough security to handle each case?

Baseball is planning to have some fans attend post-season games at Minute Maid Park next month. UH Cougars, the Dynamo and Dash are playing in front of small crowds. It remains to be seen how safe – or how risky – allowing fans at sports events will be.

Will parents let their kids attend? Is waiting for a vaccine the smart play? If President Trump is right, that could be only a matter of weeks away. If scientists and doctors are right, nestle in for pandemic life another year. Even if scientists do come up with a vaccine, how many Americans will roll up their sleeve? Some believe, in the case of COVID-19, the cure may be worse than the disease. Not me, the moment Dr. Fauci says the vaccine is safe and effective, I'm sprinting to CVS.

The thinnest of silver linings, if ever there was a year worth sitting out, 2020 has been it for Houston sports fans. The Astros are scratching to stay above .500 (their present position), Jose Altuve hasn't had an extra base hit or RBI in almost a month, and Justin Verlander is throwing bullpens on his way to recovery. The Rockets are searching for a new coach, and possibly another team willing to take Russell Westbrook in a trade. The Texans season could go either way, we'll know if a few short weeks.

Why the rush to fill stadiums? The NBA is thriving in a bubble. Why not baseball and football? There's a fine line between safe and sorry.

The Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo already has safety plans for next year, including masks and distancing. That will be interesting. Good luck controlling crowds pushing and shoving for corn dogs and funnel cakes.

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