RUNDOWN ROCKETS

How you can reap big benefits from Rockets season of discontent

The Rocket have lost 15 straight games. Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images.

Quietly, without fanfare, flying under the media's radar, your 2021-22 Houston Rockets are on course to absolutely demolish the most unenviable record in NBA history:

Worst. Team. Ever.

Let's Cap'n Crunch the numbers. The current mark for sucking is held by the 2012 Charlotte Bobcats, who finished with a 7-59 record and 10.6 winning percentage. As a glass half-empty guy, I prefer to say they had an 89.4 losing percentage. The crummiest record over a full 82-game season is held by the 1973 Philadelphia 76ers, who trudged home with a 9-73 record and 10.9 winning (89.1 losing) percentage.

The current Rockets are sputtering with a 1-16 record, highlighted by a festering 15-game losing streak, which distills to an impossibly infinitesimal 5.8-percent winning percentage. Monday's night's loss to the Boston Celtics, 108-90, was another hopeless blowout. If the Rockets keep up this pace, they'll Bob Beamon the NBA record for season-long futility.

How horrible are the Rockets? They're making the Houston Texans and their dismal 2-8 record look good. But don't think you're off the hook, Texans. We still hate the owner and that weirdo who pulls his strings. And don't think we're going to start attending your games, either. I wouldn't count on a sold-out NRG Stadium next week for the Jets game. Plenty of good seats are available. Plenty of bad seats, too. Plenty of everything, especially fan support.

Fan calls the Texans office: "What time does Sunday's game start?" Texans answer: "What time can you be here?" Credit to Highlights Magazine.

The Rockets have scheduled two bobblehead giveaways this season: Russell Westbrook and James Harden. Is the promotions department aware that neither plays for the Rockets anymore?

Here's the most impressive thing about the Rockets' fall/winter of discontent. They're not just awful on the court, they're a 5-tool disaster. Once the hottest ticket in town, the Rockets are practically giving away tickets to get fans into Toyota Center. For example, they're currently offering deals like one ticket and two beers for $25. You know what arena beers cost. If you shop the secondary market, you'll find tickets for next Monday night's game against the Thunder for only $7.

Hey! Earlier this season, the Thunder became the 1 in the Rockets' 1-16 record. I'm expecting a sold-out Toyota Center with a total box office of $867.

So let's talk money. The Rockets' highest-paid player is John Wall. He is making $44.3 million this year. Notice I said "making," not "earning." That's because John Wall has not played, and will not play, any games for the Rockets by "mutual agreement."

John Wall makes more money than the next three highest-earning Rockets: Eric Gordon ($18.2 million), Christian Wood ($13.6 million) and Jalen Green ($8.9 million). This is how business is conducted in the Bizarro World.

ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski explains, "There are no plans for John Wall to play for the Rockets, and it's becoming increasingly likely that (he) may not play anywhere in the NBA this season."

We shouldn't judge the Rockets too harshly for their underwater pay scale. Houston has to be the only city in American sports history where the highest-paid players on its three major sports teams don't play. The Astros paid Justin Verlander $33 million for not pitching in 2021. At least Verlander was injured (for most of the season anyway). Anybody else think it was weird that he was throwing 97 mph the week after his team lost the World Series?

The Texans aren't playing their $156 million quarterback Deshaun Watson because, well, you know. And John Wall sits and collects $44.3 million by "mutual agreement."

The Rockets haven't been kind to bettors, either. They're an ATM-draining 6-10-1 against the spread, and 1-5 ATS in front of the home folks at Toyota Center.

You know what's getting old? Watching Rockets coach Stephen Silas' hang dog face after each mounting loss. The NBA needs to impose a mask mandate for last-place coaches.

How did all this Rockets misery happen? And so fast? Just two years ago, the Rockets had a 44-28 record. The year before, 53-39. In 2017-18 the Rockets were an elite 65-17 with James Harden winning MVP and general manager Daryl Morey named NBA Executive of the Year. It wasn't so long ago that you could plan spring break vacations around Rockets playoff games.

You know the Rockets have a legacy of winning, right? Since the franchise entered the NBA in 1967, the Rockets have an all-time record of 2,444-2,239, good for a .522 winning percentage. That's the 8th best mark for all NBA teams.

But that was then, this is now. With all their historic losing and dwindling crowds, the 2021 Rockets continue to tell their best and highest-paid player, "We know you're only 31 and you're not injured and you'd rather play, but nah, we're good."

Except the Rockets aren't good. In fact …

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