THE PALLILOG

O'Brien's silence on Hopkins trade speaks volumes

Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images

Caveat ahead of the rest of this column: So much is trivial relative to the life and death and other critical Covid-19 pandemic issues, but sports matter as passions of so many, as multi-billion dollar businesses with impact on many other businesses, and beyond. All things in context.

We grind on. All we can do. As responsibly as we can. The line from the TV series Friday Night Lights comes to mind: "Clear Eyes, Full Hearts, Can't Lose." Not true of course, but still a great message. Now: "Wash Hands, Social Distance, Hang In There." Man it's a struggle for sports material these days.

Texans Head Coach and General Manager Bill O'Brien isn't exactly the most beloved sports figure in Houston these days, but give the man his due for donating 100 thousand dollars to the Houston Food Bank. Those so inclined, insert O'Brien donating DeAndre Hopkins to the Arizona Cardinals joke here. 100K will provide tens of thousands of meals to many people in need. Doesn't change the fact that on the professional side it is so weak that O'Brien has yet to speak publicly about his Hopkins deal that is as universally mocked as ridiculous as any trade I can recall. It's a virtual certainty it won't turn out to be the worst trade ever or even close, but at the time of the deal nobody other than (presumably) O'Brien himself, and maybe his right hand man Jack Easterby thinks the Texans made a reasonable exchange. Every expectation should be that upon questioning Emperor O will offer up variations of "Like all moves we make we do what we think is best for the football team." It's still part of his job to take the questions. Frankly, it's weak of Cal McNair to let O'Brien get away with it.

The NFL proceeds relatively undeterred. It's monstrosity of a draft extravaganza in Las Vegas won't happen, but the NFL Draft will in less than three weeks. Barring a highly surprising trade, the Texans sit out the first round Thursday night April 23. Part of the price for acquiring left tackle Laremy Tunsil who went on record this week saying he intends to become the new highest paid offensive lineman in the NFL. The Texans have reportedly offered a package averaging 18 and a half million dollars per season. That's a little over a million per Tunsil penalty (17, not counting three that were declined) committed last season. He's a very good should be entering his prime left tackle. Philadelphia right tackle Lane Johnson's extension signed last year averages 18 mil per season, presently tops among tackles. Johnson's deal also set the new tackle high with over 54 mil guaranteed.

Seems pretty obvious that 20 mil per season (at least) is Tunsil's hope. That's where ex-Texan Jadeveon Clowney was thinking as he entered unrestricted free agency. Not happening. No pity party necessary if Clowney winds up "settling" for, say, three years 45 mil. The Texans certainly could use him, and only the Browns presently have more available salary cap space. You don't suppose?

​Take Me Out To The Ballgame. Someday​.

There is no chance of Major League Baseball starting its season within the next couple of months. I doubt A.J. Hinch and Jeff Luhnow are sharing a laugh about it, but they can't be unhappy to hear that if even if there winds up being no MLB games played in 2020, their season long suspensions will be considered served. Thing is, if no baseball is played, no team is going to fire a manager to hire Hinch for 2021, or an executive to put Luhnow in charge.


Astropologists may struggle to deal with it, but Evan Gattis this week became the latest ex-Astro to acknowledge how disgraceful their cheating system was. On an Atlanta based podcast within The Athletic Gattis offered this apt line: "It was wrong for the nature of competition, not even just baseball."

Simply Shameful

Re: those dozens of spoiled, self-entitled UT students now with coronavirus after chartering a plane to Cabo for spring break in the process spitting in the face of government advisory and any common sense. Are they sorry for their immensely irresponsible and selfish behavior that could ultimately impact many other people, or only sorry that they have coronavirus? If that.

Buzzer Beaters

1. Tom Brady is leasing Derek Jeter's 30-thousand square foot Tampa home. Think they haggled over the rental price? 2. Which is sadder: that ESPN intends to televise the entirety of a 16 NBA player NBA 2K video tournament, or that I'll probably watch some of it? 3. Top "should have beens" this weekend: Bronze-Ferociously contested Sunday softball Silver-Astros at Angels Gold-the Final Four in Atlanta

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The Rockets may be the smartest guys in the room. Or the cheapest

The Rockets have their new head coach. Composite photo by Brandon Strange

On Wednesday afternoon, ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski broke the news that the Rockets' coaching search had come to an end finally. The front office tabbed Mavericks assistant Stephen Silas as the successor to Mike D'Antoni, beating out former Rockets head coach Jeff Van Gundy and current Rockets assistant John Lucas.

Knee jerk reaction?

I'm not mad at it. I expected Jeff Van Gundy to be the next hire, but maybe that was just nostalgia clouding my judgment. Either way, the Silas hire should be viewed optimistically. He's been highly regarded for some time around the league as an inventive mind that comes from basketball pedigree and has worked with big-name guards in prior stops around the league. If the Rockets didn't grab him, it was only a matter of time before another team gave him a shot.

Now there are two very distinct ways to look at this hire:

The first is that the Rockets, in spite of being one of the last teams to fill their coaching vacancy, are the smartest kids in the room. Every team is looking for the next version of what the Celtics found in their current head coach, Brad Stevens; a young brilliant coach that just needed a team to give him a shot. Hired at 37 from the college ranks, Stevens endured one losing season (his first) and has since guided the Celtics to six playoff appearances, to include three conference finals appearances. Not bad, considering he was up against LeBron James for most of those.

That is what it looks like the Rockets are trying to go for. Now at 47, Silas probably won't be mistaken for a wunderkind, but compared to 69-year-old D'Antoni, he might as well be announcing his hire on Tik Tok. If it works out, the Rockets will have once again been one step ahead of the league with the hiring of their innovative new coach.

The other way to look at the Silas hire is a little less rosy.

While Silas is only 47, he's also been an assistant in the league since he was 27. The positive spin on his resume is that he's worked with star players the likes of Kemba Walker, LeBron James, and Stephen Curry. The reality is that he worked with them while they were very young in their careers, and worked on teams like the Cavaliers, Bobcats/Hornets, Wizards, and Warriors (when they were bad). Until the last two seasons working with Luka Doncic on the Mavericks, there hasn't been a lot of success following Silas. That's not necessarily an indictment since he was an assistant, but it's not exactly a sparkling pedigree.

So while this could be a brilliant hire, at the moment, it has all of the markings of the cheaper hire. As I've mentioned before, Rockets owner Tilman Fertitta has been quite vocal about the financial impact that COVID-19 has had on his portfolio. Clips and quotes moaning and groaning about losing money are not typically precursors to an owner gearing up to make a big financial investment in the front office of a sports team that he can't sell tickets for anyone to come see. If in fact, money factored in more than fit, it would make sense that the Rockets would forego a coach like Van Gundy, whose previous head coaching experience would automatically command a higher starting price. We'll, of course, have to wait and see what the actual contract figures are once released.

It could be one. It could be the other. It could be both. Hopefully it translates into wins either way.

One thing that's for certain though is that Silas needs to take some pointers from Russell Westbrook and James Harden before he steps out courtside in any more of those TJ Maxx suits, circa 2000. Big boy job means big boy suits.

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