Daryl Morey is not likely to sit idly by as the Rockets struggle. Rockets.com
Daryl Morey knows this team as currently constructed doesn't have enough to win a championship. In fact, it already looks like this team isn't as good as the one that came one hamstring away from potentially winning it all. It's actually a good thing if Morey can look at his roster, look in the mirror and realize there is work to be done for a roster that was expected to be top 4 in the league. The biggest loss was when assistant coach Jeff Bzdelik walked away and decided to call it a career. The timing of his departure was even more unfortunate as it came on the heels of the start of training camp with little to no time to find a replacement. Without him at the defensive helm, the team looks unorganized, uninspired and completely checked out of the defensive end.
The addition of Carmelo Anthony has proven to be more of a distraction than a success. Anthony is the main focus of the media and he is quick to oblige with comments centered on his mental struggle with the lesser role he has been given and time for him to adjust and accept the changes. It's exactly what everyone hoped would not happen, but was what most experts and basketball minds predicted when he was bought out by the Hawks and decided to join the Rockets. Eric Gordon in in the midst of a horrible shooting slump to start the year and don't think for a second that the addition of Anthony has nothing to do with it. The fact is, it has everything to do with it as EG struggles to play a different role with other players getting the shots and crunch time minutes that used to belong to him. The truth is there are more problems than answers and all the while the team everyone is chasing quietly got better and continues to roll.
The Warriors have won back to back NBA titles and yet they continue to get better, add more pieces and win at a high level while playing both ends of the floor. They also know that most players that have attempted to beat them and have failed, welcome the chance to join them and chase championships. Golden State was able to add Boogie Cousins in the off season and it's just unheard of that a World Championship team could go out and add an All-Star center at a quarter of the usual price it should have taken to sign him. They have the titles and the swagger and the Bay and that has made them the premiere destination for free agents and veterans that are fading a bit, because they know if they go, chances are they will walk away with a ring. As long as they still have Durant, Curry, Green and Thompson and they stay healthy, they are going to be extremely hard to beat. The Rockets had the ideal chance last season and the perfect storm brewing to knock the "Dubs" out and get themselves in The Finals and we all know how that story ended. Smart people in high ranking positions with other teams in the league know that in order to be the best, you have to beat the best and that means off the court in the draft and free agency, as well as on the court.
Morey is a smart guy and as much as he is the master of the media and propping up his team and organization by saying all the right things to make people believe this team is better than a year ago and more equiped to win a title, quietly we all have to hope he sees a squad with too many flaws to compete for a crown. The Jazz are better and so are the Spurs and if you haven't heard, the Lakers got LeBron James. Teams all around the West have improved their roster and with it, their chances of moving ahead of Houston.
The good news is that there is still plenty of time and at least one guy out there that could instantly take you and your title hopes up a notch to a more realistic chance to win it all. Jimmy Butler has been on Morey's radar for quite a while and unlike Melo, if he can get him in his prime and get him in here with plenty of time, the team elevates to a totally different level of title contender. Morey is now rumored to be willing to give up four first round picks, Eric Gordon and others to bring the Tomball native back home and no one should be shocked or think that an offer like that is too much to do.
If the Rockets are at the level they expect to be for the next several years, those picks would not bring players that could play significant minutes and they might not even be able to crack the rotation. If not Butler, there are others out there that can help and the opportunity to acquire them needs to be right now. That's right, there is no more flexibility to wait for talent to develop and personalities and abilities to mix.
The time is now for Morey and the Rockets to go for it all and with CP3 older and only signed for a few more years, it's full blown go time for Red Nation and "NBA title or bust" must be the mentality. No excuses or substitute will be acceptable to the city and its fan base, not to mention the teams' owner Tillman Fertita. It's only October and this can all be forgotten if the right moves are made to insure that the team is playing in late May and June for the second straight year.
“Another one!”- DJ Khaled
That's the first thing that came to mind when I heard the news of Tytus Howard being shut down for the season because of a knee injury. They've had more injuries on the offensive line this season than Nick Cannon has Father's Day cards. Almost every member of the offensive line has spent time on the injury report. Howard went down in the same game in which Juice Scruggs was finally on the active roster. He missed the first 10 games due to a hamstring injury. The irony of next man up has never been so in your face.
The other thing that came to mind was the soap opera As the World Turns.
Howard had just signed an extension this offseason. So did Laremy Tunsil and Shaq Mason. They drafted Juice Scruggs, and signed a few guys too. Those moves, along with other holdovers, were expected to fill out the depth chart. Then a rash of injuries struck. At one point, only one of the original five guys expected to start was playing! In fact, they beat the Steelers 30-6 with that backup offensive line!
One can't have the expectation of backups to perform as good as the starters. They're professionals and are on an NFL roster for a reason. However, the talent gap is evident. One thing coaching, technique, and preparation can't cover is lack of ability or talent. The Texans have done a good job of navigating the injury minefield this season. While the Howard injury will hurt, I have faith in the guys there still.
As of this writing, the Texans are in the eighth spot in the AFC playoff picture. The Steelers, Browns, and Colts are all in front of them at the fifth through seventh spots respectfully. They've beaten the Steelers already. They play the Browns on Christmas Eve and their starting quarterback is out for the season. The Colts are relying on the ghost of Gardner Minshew to steer their ship into the last game of the season vs. the Texans with a possible playoff trip on the line. The Broncos and Bills are the two teams immediately behind them. They play the Broncos this weekend. Even though they're on a hot streak, this is the same team that got 70 put on them by the Dolphins. The Bills are the old veteran boxer who still has some skill, but is now a stepping stone for up & comers.
To say this team should still make the playoffs would be an understatement in my opinion. I believe in them and what they have going on more than I believe in the teams I listed above. That includes teams around them in the playoff race that aren't on their schedule. The one thing that scares me a little moving forward is the sustainability of this line. When guys get up in age as athletes, it becomes harder to come back from injuries. The injuries also tend to occur more frequently when it's a knee, foot, ankle, shoulder, elbow, or another body part critical to blocking for C.J. Stroud.
I know they just re-signed three of those guys and drafted one they believe can be a starter, but depth and contingency plans are a way of life in the NFL. We see how important depth was this season. Why not plan ahead? Don't be surprised if the Texans spend valuable draft capital on the offensive line. By valuable, I'm talking about first through third or fourth rounders. Those are prime spots to draft quality offensive lineman. Whether day one starters or quality depth, those are the sweet spots. The only guy on the two deep depth chart for this offensive line that wasn't drafted in one of those rounds was George Fant, who was an undrafted rookie free agent. While I highly doubt they spend any significant free agency dollars on the group, I'm not totally ruling it out.
The bottom line is, this team will be okay on the line for the remainder of this season. The only way that doesn't happen, more injuries. Stroud is clearly the franchise guy. Protecting that investment is a top priority. I don't care about a number one receiver, or a stud stable or singular running back if the quarterback won't have time to get them the ball. If the pilot can't fly the plane, you know what happens. So making sure he's happy, healthy, and has a great crew is of the utmost importance.