Shooting stars

Joel Blank: It's time to sit back and enjoy the ride with the Rockets

James Harden and the Rockets are a joy to behold. Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

Your Rockets are off to the best start in franchise history, tied with the 1993-94 championship team. They have the second best record in the entire league and just waxed the Cavaliers in Cleveland with LeBron James and company by 32 points. You should be ecstatic! You should feel like your team is as close to the top of the basketball world as they have been in 27 years, yet Red Nation seems to be as worried and schizophrenic as ever when thinking about this team. Why is that? What gives? Where's the love?

Let me guess, is it because you’ve seen this movie before? Is it hard to trust a team that has tugged at your heartstrings only to deliver a soul crushing defeat year after year? Have you become so spoiled as a fanbase that nothing in the regular season seems to matter and even a division title has no value? Is the only gauge that registers for you how far this team goes in the playoffs, and if they can compete for and win a championship? It seems as though, as long as Daryl Morey is the DJ there is no way that Rockets fans will trust that this broken record will somehow find its groove—come April, May, and most importantly in June.

I get it Rockets fans;  you are hungry for another title, it’s been too long and you have been extremely patient. You have had to endure some of the toughest defeats in the franchises history in the last few postseason appearances. Who wants to remember 2014 and Damian Lillard's buzzer beater that sent the Rockets home from the Rose City? There was the improbable comeback in Los Angeles against the Clippers in game 6 and the blowout victory to clinch the series in Game 7, only to see the team blow a 16-point lead in Game 1 and never find the recipe for defeating the Warriors in the Western Conference Finals. Let us not forget that less than a year ago, the Rockets were rolling and everyone's sexy pick to get to the Western Conference finals and give that Golden State team a long hard-fought series. Instead of the Beard taking you to the promised land, James Harden and company found a way to grab the tackle box before they could even reel in a big fish and were sent home for the summer by Gregg Popovich and the Spurs. Yet another, early "gone fishing" vacation. I totally understand that the only way that this franchise and this team will be able to exorcise its demons and redeem themselves would be a trip to the Conference Finals, a hard fought battle against the Golden State Warriors and maybe, just maybe a trip to the NBA finals. Something inside of me says even that might not be good enough for a fan base that waits for the heartbreak instead of anticipating the incredible, if not the improbable.

It's your loss Rockets fans, if that's the way you choose to think. If those are the thoughts that run through your head as this team runs through the best of both conferences and puts on a show night in and night out, that's on you. If you are so caught up in waiting for the playoffs and another collapse that you can't appreciate what you have had in the last four regular seasons, then who am I to tell you to think any differently? Fact is, you've had your best player in contention for the MVP in three of the last four years including this very season. An offseason trade has given you the opportunity to see one of the best point guards of all time, still playing at an extremely high level and making this Rockets team better on a nightly basis. Speaking of team, who wouldn't want to root for, watch and see a team that leads the league in three point shots attempted and made, not to mention scoring at an all-time level as they strike fear in every scoreboard in every arena across the NBA. The team has even added role players that specifically addressed their biggest weakness of a year ago, by being known for their defense first and their offensive prowess after that fact. The simple truth is this team is good, really good. Regardless of how they finish the postseason, this team maybe the best regular-season team in the history of this storied franchise. Sure, we're all waiting to see what happens in the playoffs and we will judge and rate the year accordingly based on how it all plays out. But in the meantime and in between time, why not just appreciate how lucky you are to have a team that can entertain you and rack up wins seemingly every night? Don't you think fans in Brooklyn and Phoenix would love to have a squad to watch that played the way the Rockets play and win the way they throw up W's? At the end of the day the choice is really up to you, but I personally think you're missing the boat because this team is far different than any of those teams of the past.  In fact, this may be the only team that comes close to stacking up to those championship teams of the past and in the process may be the best regular season basketball team this city has ever witnessed. So before it's time for the Warriors to come out to play, take time to enjoy the ride and remember, the reality is, we're all day to day.

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Correa could be on his way out. Composite image by Jack Brame.

It has not been the best of times to be a star athlete in Houston. In the last year, Jadeveon Clowney and DeAndre Hopkins were solid off for a warm bucket of spit. George Springer won't be back. James Harden and Russell Westbrook rumors are rampant. J.J. Watt might be moving on as well.

Now, reports are the Astros are listening to offers for Carlos Correa.

Predictably, Astros fans are livid. And if it's true, they should be concerned about the bigger picture.

Trading Correa makes sense - if you have no plans on keeping him after next season, as was clearly the case with Springer. If the Astros can get a haul and replenish the farm system, it would be the right move, especially considering Correa's injury history.

But in the long run, it does not bode well for the direction of the team. All recent indications are that the Astros are going cheap.

They would still be a competitive team without Correa, but it would be yet another indication their World Series window has closed. Alex Bregman could slide over to shortstop, but who would play third? And they only have one starting outfielder on the roster as it is. Putting together a competitive lineup around Bregman, Jose Altuve, Kyle Tucker, Yuli Gurriel and Yordan Alvarez would still be possible, but if the Astros aren't going to spend money, that could be problematic.

The writing was probably on the wall when the team hired James Click as GM from the notoriously frugal Tampa Bay organization. The good news is the Rays have been successful. But this is a new direction for a team that was not afraid to spend big money to make runs at the World Series.

If they lose Correa, they lose a team leader, one of the few players who embraced the villain role in the wake of the cheating controversy and was not afraid to speak out. But he has never lived up to his MVP potential, has battled injuries and will command big dollars on the open market. He is still young enough to become that kind of player, and someone will gamble big money that he will.

Sadly, if this rumor is true, it won't be the Astros.

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