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.
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
When Bryce Young and CJ Stroud were drafted with the first two picks of the NFL Draft, we knew they would be compared to one another for years to come.
And here we are just 11 games into the season and one quarterback has already seen his head coach fired. Panthers owner David Tepper spoke to the media on Wednesday and discussed his decision to fire Frank Reich, and also set the record straight on how they arrived at the decision to draft Young.
In so many words, Tepper basically blamed the Texans for how the top of the draft played out. He mentioned Stroud by name and said the Panthers were ready to draft him at No. 2 overall until the Texans backed out of the three-team trade with the Bears.
Tepper made a point of saying everyone in their building had Bryce Young as the top player on their draft board, despite rumors about Frank Reich preferring Stroud.
CJ Stroud and the Texans have been so much better than Bryce Young and the Panthers that Tepper clearly felt it was necessary to defend himself, and the decisions he's made for the organization.
In the end, the person that gets the worst end of the deal is Bryce Young. Coaching changes can be very difficult on young quarterbacks. And it looks like he'll have to learn a new offense in his second year when the Panthers hire a new coaching staff.
How fortunate we are as Texans fans to have DeMeco Ryans and CJ Stroud leading the team moving forward.
With all of this in mind, is there a reason Texans fans haven't fully bought in to the new-look Texans? JJ Watt was a guest on The Pat McAfee Show this week and was asked about the team's inability to fill the stadium on Sundays.
As a former player for the Colts, McAfee always thought Houston had the loudest and best fans in the NFL. And while the Texans are 9th in attendance this year according to ESPN, even CJ Stroud has asked for the fans to fill the stadium.
So there is something to it. You can see the empty seats in photos. So why aren't the Texans packing NRG with a shiny new franchise QB?
We believe the recent history of the team is why fans are slowly coming back. McAfee wasn't here for:
Bill O'Brien cussing at fans during games
Trading DeAndre Hopkins away for next to nothing
The Jack Easterby disaster
Deshaun Watson allegedly blaming ownership for why he wanted out
The Deshaun Watson scandal
Firing back-to-back coaches after one season, and the list goes on.
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