The Pallilog

Rockets erase bad off-season with moves at deadline

Mike D'Antoni has a different looking roster now. Getty Images.

The Rockets made no huge move before the NBA trade deadline, but the addition of Iman Shumpert should make them incrementally better. It was a great deadline for owner Tilman Fertitta's wallet, as General Manager Daryl Morey's finding a dumping ground for Brandon Knight and Marquese Chriss gets the Rockets out of luxury tax territory. To do so the Rockets did have to give up their first round draft pick and a future second rounder. They actually nudge back into luxury tax territory if they add any other players whose contracts are/were bought out. The Rockets have three available roster slots.

Giving away James Ennis to Philadelphia plays as a bit of a cheapo move, but Shumpert should be a bouncier more versatile defender who shoots three pointers at a similar level.

Morey has recovered nicely from his brutal offseason performance with the in-season additions of Austin Rivers, Kenneth Faried, and now Shumpert. But the misconstruction of the roster over the summer played a large role in the Rockets' lousy start which basically buried their hopes of again finishing atop the Western Conference.

Saturday's game vs. Oklahoma City is huge. The Rockets sit three games back of the Thunder for third in the West. Presuming Golden State finishes number one in the West, finishing third (or second for that matter) means avoiding the Warriors before the Western Conference Final. The Rockets final game of the regular season is at OKC. The season series stands 1-1.

Several teams who think of themselves as legit Finals threats made bigger moves than did the Rockets. Philadelphia trading for Tobias Harris, Milwaukee for Nikola Mirotic, and Toronto for Marc Gasol makes for a plausible argument that after the Warriors the next best four teams in the NBA are all Eastern Conference squads: Bucks, Raptors, Sixers, and Celtics.

Adios, Chris Bosh

The Miami Heat announced Monday that next month it will retire Chris Bosh's uniform number. Easy does it with any snickering, even though while Bosh's #1 will go to the rafters in Miami, he was never more than #3 on the totem pole during the Heat's four Finals appearances and two titles four year run spearheaded by LeBron James and Dwyane Wade.

Bosh pretty much has to be a Hall of Famer. Spending his entire playing career in the Eastern Conference no doubt helped Bosh on the accolades front, but do you know that he was an 11-time All Star? Clyde Drexler was a 10-time All Star, so was Paul Pierce. Scottie Pippen was a 7-time All Star, so was Tracy McGrady 7. Chris Bosh, 11.

From the what if department: what if Chris Bosh hadn't jilted the Rockets at the altar when he was a free agent in the summer of 2014. The Rockets thought they had created a big three, adding Bosh to James Harden and Dwight Howard. Then, having just lost LeBron James, Pat Riley blew the Rockets offer out of the water by 30 million dollars, as only the Heat could under NBA rules.

Without Bosh, the Rockets wound up going to the Western Conference Final in 2015, losing to the Warriors. With Bosh, could the Rockets have prevented the Golden State from winning its first title of its dynasty? Probably not. But we'll never know.

UH on a roll

It's 22-1 for the Houston Cougars after their win Thursday night at Central Florida. Sunday afternoon should make for quite the atmosphere at the Fertitta Center as the Coogs play Cincinnati for the American Athletic Conference lead. Both teams are 9-1 in AAC play. UH has won seven straight games, UC has won eight straight. The Cougars are on the nation's longest homecourt winning roll with 31 consecutive wins. UH is currently ranked 12th in the nation, but numbers eight, nine, 10, and 11 have all lost this week meaning a win over the 25th ranked 20-3 Bearcats vaults the Cougars into the top 10, probably top eight.

RIP Frank Robinson

The great Frank Robinson died this week at 83. An easy first ballot Hall of Famer, renowned as the first black manager ever in Major League Baseball, and yet still underappreciated among all-time greats. Robinson's aura suffered since he was a contemporary of Willie Mays and Hank Aaron. Robinson's greatest hitting season was greater than Hank or Willie's greatest. Robinson won the American League Triple Crown in 1966. He retired in fourth place on the career home run list (behind Aaron, Babe Ruth, and Mays). He's still the only player to win the Most Valuable Player Award in both leagues. Robinson was born in Beaumont, moved to Oakland California when young, and played on the same high school basketball team as Bill Russell.

Buzzer Beaters

1.The Super Bowl was no classic but wasn't awful. The outcome wasn't settled until the 59th minute. 2. A week from now Spring Training is underway! 3. Greatest athletes who attended the University of Cincinnati: Bronze-Tony Trabert Silver-Sandy Koufax Gold-Oscar Robertson

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The Houston Texans have just a couple of practices before their preseason debut. Here are 11 observations from Tuesday’s workout.

1.The offense stunk on Tuesday. It was inconsistent and resembled more of last year’s disappointing performances than any other practices in this training camp.

2. Davis Mills and his receivers had a few miscommunications on Tuesday. Mills sailed a pass to nobody when he and Brandin Cooks weren’t on the same page. There were some other throws to nowhere in the day. It was something that hadn’t been present at all in training camp to this point.

3. There were a few “good coverage” notes on Tuesday. Not to say there was one specific player, but a handful of team-level efforts that led to the note.

4. It wasn’t all wrong from the offense. After a pass to nowhere Davis Mills and the offense bounced back. It was a second down during a team drill and Mills fired a pass to Chris Moore for six yards. Rex Burkhead would pick up a first down on a rush a play later. A non-positive play last year on first down doomed this team. That hopefully won’t be the case for this year’s team.

5. Chad Beebe is going into his fifth season in the NFL, his first with the Texans. The former Vikings pass catcher has flashed a few times in training camp. He has an uphill battle being new to the team but is trying to make himself a factor.

6. Phillip Dorsett had a big catch over the middle. Davis Mills stood back and delivered as the offensive line held up and Dorsett reeled it in for a huge gain. No defenders were around him. It is between Dorsett and Chris Moore for the chance to be the slot wideout opening day. With Dorsett’s return to practice, it is becoming a fun camp battle.

7.Speaking of returns to practice, Tytus Howard was back. Howard has his reps managed and after practice, offensive line coach George Warhop Howard was “getting his wind” back. When Howard was having his reps managed rookie tackle Austin Deculus played at right tackle. Deculus looks much more consistent than minicamp and OTAs.

8. Kenyon Green is still out with an injury. It is getting to a critical time where the time missed might prevent the first-rounder from starting week one. Max Scharping hasn’t looked bad in his chances with the first team. Offensive line coach George Warhop said they believe in Green and his ability and he has been in meetings to stay up to date.

9. Ka’imi Fairbairn was perfect in one of the special team periods. He drilled all five kicks, each further than the last, and was crushing the football.

10. Derek Stingley was very sticky in some early reps on Nico Collins. The third overall pick is so smooth when he is working. Later his coverage forced a throw from the offense that had no chance of being completed.

11. The play of the day was made by Derek Stingley. The offense was about five or six yards out of the end zone needing a touchdown to win. With six seconds left on the clock, any completed pass that wasn’t a touchdown was game over. Davis Mills dropped back a step and fired to Nico Collins who Stingley covered. The rookie kept the second-year player out of the end zone to earn the defense a win. This was one of the better Stingley days and he did a lot of work. At one point, it looked as though he and Rex Burkhead had some words and almost led to an offense and defense scuffle, but it stayed to just some shouting. The rookie shined today.

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