COUNTDOWN TO LIFTOFF

Examining the most interesting things said at Rockets Media Day

Christian Wood should be set to have a big year. Composite image by Jack Brame.

Houston Rockets Media Day was eventful with new faces and optimistic energy. Jalen Green seemed excited to be a Rocket and to be playing in the NBA. "It's a dream come true. I'm super happy. It's a blessing," Green said. Coach Stephan Silas seems refreshed after a catastrophic season last year. He had a huge smile as he walked into the room before answering questions alongside GM Rafael Stone.

"Last year was challenging. It started off one way, then we had a bunch of changes and COVID and injuries and everything. I learned a lot last year and I learned a lot from a bunch of our guys, as far as them sticking with it and playing hard at the end and who we could depend on," Silas said. "Then the older guys who were injured but still staying with the group and happy about being Rockets. Then we have our new guys who are kind of fitting in to what we did last year. I'm super excited about the future of this group."

There is a ton of speculation on how Silas and Stone will handle the roster for this season, as it is talented. The Rockets are extremely grateful to have a talented roster, as their training camp should be competitive. Players at the bottom of the roster are playing for minutes or just to even make the team in Houston. And players that won't make the team are auditioning for other rosters in the NBA and the G-League.

"It's going to be up to Rafael and I to get [a] feel for who plays well together," Silas said. Who might not be able to play as well together… And I'm not going to make any decisions about starting lineup or playing groups."

Silas even elaborated on the combo of Kevin Porter Jr. and Green, and the type of offensive gadgets he wants to revolve around the two. Those two are very explosive and versatile and know Silas wants the combination to push the tempo by running the floor and creating space. Green's goal is to win Rookie of the Year underneath Silas. "The goal is to win Rookie of the Year and the fact that I didn't go number one is certainly motivation," Green said.

"The type of style Rafael and I believe in is playing fast and playing with a bunch of space. Letting those guys play to their strengths and getting the ball moved from side to side", Silas said. "Scoot [Porter]is bringing it up one side and get it to Jalen on the other side and vice versa. I don't think we got to do anything tricky at all. Both are good ball handlers, athletic, and gifted."

A lot is on the line for Christian Wood this season

Christian Wood should be set to have a big year, as he had a breakout year of 21 points, 9.6 rebounds, and 1.2 blocks per game while shooting 51/37.4/63.1 percent from the field. "For the first time in my career, I saw myself involved in trade talks after having a breakout season... I'm even more motivated than I was before," said Wood. Wood has a big year in front of him, as it could be a contract year for him too. During the offseason he focused more on his shooting and passing, so he can become more consistent throughout the season.

"Finishing, passing, shooting… I feel like there were times where my shot would get inconsistent. I want to be able to shoot more consistently," Wood said. "I want to be able to pass out of double teams. I feel like [I'll] see a lot more double teams this season."

Wood will have more company alongside him this season, which is Daniel Theis. Theis plays a huge part for the Rockets on offense and defense, as he is great at creating space with his body because of his IQ. He is a terrific screener on offense for point guards inside the two-man game and a decent rebounder, as the big man averaged 5.5 rebounds per game last season. Theis believes Wood and him will be able to click well in the paint.

"Definitely. We can play together, play fast, we can get stops, and run. I played in a big lineup in Boston, I played alongside Vucevic in Chicago," Theis said. "Similar to spacing to the floor with Christian [Wood]. With us now, it's just learning how to play with each other and read the other guy. When we play pick-and-roll, the other guy has to roll, and the other guy has to space."

Porter Jr. became the biggest focus in the offseason after having a good sophomore season, which had a big jump from 10 points to 16 points per game and shot 42.5 percent from the field. He started off rough with the Cleveland Cavaliers, as he was traded to Houston for a second-round pick because of an altercation with GM Koby Atlman. Porter said he battled with depression and love for the game. Ever since he came to Houston, it helped revamp is career in the NBA. He gave credit to John Lucas and Silas for helping, and the organization as whole.

"They gave me love and confidence in myself, and motivation to become a better player and person. They've invested a lot in me, and I try to give them my all to repay them in some way," Porter said. "This organization saved my life, potentially. I just love being here, and I want to be here for a while."

Porter has seen a ton of support from his teammates like Green and other players around the NBA. "He's always making plays and the pass, and he can go get a bucket. He's got the whole package," Green said. Chris Brickley, his trainer, gave Porter a ton of respect regarding his game on Stephen Jackson and Matt Barnes' podcast, All the Smoke, on Thursday.

"He is so talented, he is a beast and everyone sees it (Kevin Porter Jr.). James [Harden] is like yo, make sure we work together this summer. He is a hooper. He has handle, he can shoot, he is athletic," Brickley said.

Everyone wants to know why John Wall and Stone have agreed to find a better situation for him. "We all just came together and felt it was the best decision for all parties. It wasn't easy. It was tough," Wall said. It makes sense because of the new combination of Porter and Green. Although Wall isn't playing for the team this season, he'll still use his veteran presence to help the younger core until he is traded. Stone wants to do his due diligence and find him the right home, as he did with James Harden and PJ Tucker.

Media day was delightful, so on to training camp.

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The Skeeters will have a new name for the 2022 season. SugarLandSkeeters/Facebook

The Houston Astros Triple A affiliate will soon have a new name. While it be tempting to call them the Gangsters of Love, that name won't be on the jerseys.

Instead, the team will announce that the Sugar Land Skeeters will become the Space Cowboys, according to multiple media reports. Images of a potential new logo have been circulating online.

An event on Saturday, January 29, at Constellation Field will make the change official. Held from 4-7 pm, it will introduce the team's new mascot, logo, and uniforms. In addition, Astros prospects Brett Conine, Chad Donato, JP France, Korey Lee, and JJ Matijevic as well as Sugar Land manager Mickey Storey will make appearances and hold autograph sessions.

The event also features live music. No word yet on whether Steve Miller Band is on the setlist. A fireworks display will close out the evening.

Continue on CultureMap to learn more!

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