THE Z REPORT

Lance Zierlein: Rockets are forced into an "all-in" scenario

Bringing back Chris Paul means the window is now. Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

So now what? Is it time to make wide-ranging changes or is it time to sit tight? Figuring out where the Rockets go from here can be tricky unless you really think things through. Well hang on… Daryl Morey is responsible for building this team, not us. Morey crafts team building plans two years in advance so I guess you and I trying to figure things out is irrelevant.

But I’m still going to get my two cents in.

Before we talk about Lebron James or any other “solutions” to the Golden State problem, we have to figure out where the Rockets stand in the grand scheme of winning a title. The “Clutch City” Rockets obviously had great success, but they believed a changing of the roster was necessary to beat Seattle. They added Charles Barkley to the mix, but sprung a leak against the Utah Jazz and the Rockets run ended in quick death thanks, in part, due to Barkley’s inability to get in shape and stay healthy. Plus they just got hella old.

Before you make any moves at all, you have to have an honest accounting of where you stand as an organization. Let’s delve.

Window shopping

The Philadelphia 76’ers and Boston Celtics are built for long-term runs since their teams are built through the draft. All their best players are still young and they have roster flexibility where they can deal talented, young players for quality veterans whenever they need.

The Rockets don’t have that same luxury. The Rockets “window” is very fluid. If we acknowledge there was a better than average chance that Chris Paul may have helped right the ship in the third and/or fourth quarters of games 6 or 7, then the Rockets would have found themselves in the Finals.

But do you just hang your hat on that knowledge and keep rolling? Yes and no.

Re-signing Chris Paul is a must thanks to his ability to control the offense when needed, find points with mid-range jumpers when the 3-pointers are clanking, and provide the leadership and mental toughness this team needed.

But once you lock in with Paul, you better realize that your window for a title is very small. For as much as we love Paul, he played in just 58 games, which is the second lowest of his career. He began the season with a soft-tissue injury and ended the season with a soft-tissue injury. He’s talented but older players don’t get more healthy, only less healthy.

Once Paul is re-signed, Morey must realize that the window for winning is much tighter and will require a roster being built around the understanding that Paul is likely going to miss several games. Some of the games Paul misses could be in the playoffs. Because of this, the pursuit and recruitment of another high-end talent like Lebron James will go into overdrive.

Re-signing Paul and Clint Capela along with allowing guys like Gerald Green and Trevor Ariza to walk will still creates a status-quo situation unless the Rockets find a significantly better scorer and creator. Finding better point guard depth is a must now as well. I’m not big into small windows for success, but as long as you are going to rely on Chris Paul in 2018-2019, the Rockets have to go all-in.

 

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Texans fall to 1-6. Photo by Getty Images

Don't you worry, son. It will all be over soon.

- Teddy KGB, Rounders

The Texans horrible season continued on Sunday when they were soundly beaten by the Green Bay Packers. The Texans got some garbage points to make the score look better late, but they were never in this. They could not run the football, and even though he had a receiving score, maybe it's time the David Johnson experiment ended. Aaron Rodgers ate their souls with four touchdown passes and the Texans fell to 1-6. Five thoughts on the game:

1) First impressions? Not so much. For the seventh time this season, the Texans failed to score on their opening drive. They had ONE touchdown last season on their opening drive, week 17 against the Titans. While Bill O'Brien still gets a lot of that blame, Tim Kelly is now 0 for 3 as an OC. Whoever takes over next season has to fix this. Especially against good teams, the Texans simply can't afford to get down early. They were down 21-0 at the half and never had a real chance.

2) There is good news! Hopefully this lets the team know that there is no chance of anything this season. With the trade deadline looming, any veteran not named Watson or Tunsil should be available for draft picks. It remains unlikely they will do anything, but they have some pieces that might bring a return. Hopefully they no longer think the season can be salvaged.

3) They really aren't close against good teams. The little things continue to be a problem. Key penalties to hurt drives; untimely failures on third down. The offense has to do a better job staying on the field, because the defense just is not good enough to stop solid offenses. Things got worse when their best corner, Bradley Roby went out with injury. Overall, the Packers were better on both sides of the ball, and they made the Texans look bad throughout. The Texans needed some breaks to go their way in order to be competitive, like what happened last week against Tennessee. That didn't happen, and they were never in the game.

4) They won special teams! They blocked a punt in the fourth quarter that helped make the final score a little closer. They also blocked a kick last week. Other than their overpaid kicker (who missed a field goal), the special teams have been solid. Their punter might be the best player at his job on the entire team. So there's that. A positive, right?

5) The future? Meh. The Texans get the Jaguars, Browns and Patriots next, so they should have a chance at some wins, but they could also lose to all three of those teams. And with no high draft pick reward at the end of the year, there is little left to play or root for in this season.

With nine games left, you would like to think there was something left to care about. But if it isn't over yet, it's as Teddy said: It will all be over soon.

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