POINT BLANK

Joel Blank: Why Lebron? Why not J.J. or Avery and re-sign your own?

All this Lebron James talk. Why not other options? Jayne Kamin-Oncea/Getty Images

All the talk over the last two weeks about Lebron coming to Houston to me is crazy. Why why would you blow up a 65 win team? Who cares if the guy likes Houston as a city or not? Why cater to a guy who would force you to trade or get rid of almost half your team, if not more? Why not add a less sexy name or two that could add depth and versatility to an already deep and talented roster? In my opinion the Rockets have a good enough team to win a title next season if they can just bring everyone back and re-sign their core free agents. If you can find a home for Ryan Anderson you get an added bonus and have more freedom to spend on free agents and make trades for higher contracts. With that in mind, here are a few names the Rockets should consider as potential additions to their roster for next year.

By now everyone knows the Rockets are an offense predicated on shooting threes and getting layups, as they play fast and try and get a high volume of shots up on a nightly basis. Players that fit the mold are good shooters, in great shape, can run the floor and make free throws. JJ Reddick is a player that fits all that criteria and adds the experience of being a 12-year NBA veteran and someone who has played with Chris Paul and flourished. Reddick shot 42% from behind the arc last year and averaged 17 points a game, as he knocked down 46% of his field goal attempts and 90% of his free throws. For a team that wants to shoot as many triples as they can, why not add one of the best long range snipers in the league over the last twelve seasons and someone that has shot 42% for his career from behind the arc and 45% from the floor? He is getting older now and is still chasing an opportunity for a title. After getting paid 23 million dollars to play last season in Philadelphia, he got his big pay day so why not go for the ring in Houston? Sure the Sixers have a good, young squad, but are they as ready to win right now as the Rockets? I personally don't think they are. If Reddick is willing to work with Daryl Morey on the numbers and be somewhat flexible, he would be a perfect fit for H-town.

Another guy that could be a huge help next season for Mike D'Antoni's team is Avery Bradley. After finishing last season with the Clippers, you know he wants to get back to winning on a consistent basis like he did in Boston. He only played 46 games last year between the Pistons and Clippers after undergoing season ending abdominal surgery in March. That injury could lower his price tag and open up the possibility of him fitting right into the Rockets wish list and price guidelines.

Bradley is a career 37% three point shooter, who has shot 44% from the floor over his eight-year NBA resume. He has averaged over 12 points a game and shot 77% from the line, while averaging  just over 3 boards, 2 assists and 1 steals per contest. Throw in his above average abilities on the defensive end, where he is one of the league's best on-ball defenders as well as his experience handling the ball as a playmaker and you have another perfect fit for red nation.

If the Rockets could add one, if not both of these guys and retain CP3, Clint Capela and Trevor Ariza, they would be well on their way to a return engagement with the Warriors in the Western Conference finals. Either guy would strengthen the bench, improve their shooting and in case of Bradley, upgrade their ball handling and defense. For a team that was easily the second best squad in the association this season, a move or two like this could be enough to be NBA royalty at the end of next season with no need for the king.

 

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The future is bright for the Astros. Composite image by Jack Brame.

2020 has shown us lots of things. A few of the things it's shown us is that anything is possible, expect the unexpected, and do not be surprised at the outcome. Well, the Astros checked all three of those boxes in this pandemic season and post season. Anything was possible when they finished the 60 game season 29-31 and barely made the playoffs (yes, the new format helped, but they made it). We should've expected the unexpected when they were able to beat the Twins in the first round 2-0 after the A's ran away with the division this season. We for damn sure shouldn't have been surprised at the outcome of their ALCS series when they forced Tampa to a game seven after being down 3-0 because this team is experienced and scrappy. We are talking about the team that's made it to the ALCS four years running and won it all in 2017.

Sure, there are some high dollar guys that mean a lot to this team that they may lose (looking squarely at George Springer and Michael Brantley), but that's the end of it. They'll also be without Justin Verlander after undergoing Tommy John surgery. Some will say coming back from a 3-0 deficit to force a game seven was good enough. They'll tell this team to accept its fate and fall into the background. They replaced their manager and general manager after the cheating scandal, no way they can move forward and succeed right? (insert your favorite GTFOH GIF)

Springer and Brantley could both leave as free agents

This team may not be thought of a contender moving forward, but I have faith in the talent that's still there. I believe Jim Crane knows who and what he can't live without moving forward, so I think he'll shell out the cash necessary to keep guys like Springer and Brantley...as long as it's within reason. Crane won't, and shouldn't, get into a bidding war with another team for either guy, but I think he will make a fair offer to both. Verlander being out in his last season under contract is a big blow. However, I think it can work to the team's advantage.

Let's say they're only able to bring back Springer OR Brantley, but Kyle Tucker takes that next step. Let's say Forrest Whitley, Framber Valdez, and Jose Urquidy all take that next step while Lance McCullers continues his accent. What will the league say when Jose Altuve and Alex Bregman return to their previously dominant forms? All of this speaks to the continued era of the dominant Astros.

Even if they lose Brantley and/or Springer this offseason, I still think they have enough in place to keep the lineup competitive and threatening. The pitching staff has enough firepower to put some fear into opposing lineups. If they continue to make the right moves and develop the talent they have in-house, this team won't fall off or take a dip. Instead, they'll continue to be a force if they hold true to the talent they have, and acquire the complimentary talent they need to accent the players they have now. The pitching staff will be in good hands. McCullers, Framber, and Urquidy are guys I feel that can carry the load. Meanwhile, Forrest Whitley is waiting in the wings. Kyle Tucker is poised for the next step in the lineup, and Captain Correa clearly established himself as a leader this post season.

The future is bright for Astros fans. If ownership and the front office pony up the money to keep some guys, it'll be even better.

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