Rockets erase bad off-season with moves at deadline
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.
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