Losing Ground

The time is now for Morey to make a major move to improve Rockets

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.

 

 


 

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Houston now focused on postseason

Altuve and Correa homer, Astros drop final regular-season game

Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images

With no playoff impact at stake if the Astros won or lost the game, Houston took Sunday's final regular-season game as a chance to get their lineup a few more at-bats before shifting focus to Tuesday's first game of the post-season. Here is a quick recap of the game against the Rangers:

Final Score: Rangers 8, Astros 4.

Record: 29-31, second in the AL West.

Winning pitcher: Wes Benjamin (2-1, 4.84 ERA).

Losing pitcher: Chase De Jong (0-1, 14.73 ERA).

Houston's main bats get a final tune-up

Knowing they'd only have a couple of at-bats to work with, some of Houston's big bats took advantage, starting with Jose Altuve. He crushed a pitch in the top of the first, a solo homer to put the Astros in front 1-0. After the Rangers tied the game 1-1 in the bottom of the second, Altuve started the third with a walk before moving to third base on a Michael Brantley single, which improved Brantley's season average to .300.

Aledmys Diaz would pick up the RBI on a groundout to score Altuve, putting Houston back in front 2-1. In Correa's last at-bat in the top of the fourth, he extended the lead to 3-1 with a solo home run of his own.

Rangers hand Astros a loss to end the regular season

After getting the early run against Chase De Jong, the Rangers would put together a big inning against him in the fourth. After two one-out singles, Rougned Odor would give Texas their first lead of the day on a three-run homer to make it 4-3.

De Jong would continue to struggle in the inning, getting just one more out while loading the bases, prompting a move to the bullpen to bring in Nivaldo Rodriguez to try and eat up more innings. The Rangers greeted him with a two-RBI single to extend their lead to 6-3 before ending the fourth. Odor would hit his second home run of the game in the bottom of the fifth, a solo shot to make it a four-run lead at 7-3.

Rodriguez allowed another run in the bottom of the seventh, making it 8-3. Diaz, who drove in a run earlier, would account for another RBI in the top of the eighth, getting Houston's third solo homer of the day. That would make it an 8-4 game, which would go final as the Rangers would win the regular season's last game.

Up Next: Houston's first game of the playoffs will be on Tuesday, with the start time and opponent TBD while the rest of today's games wrap up, and the schedule is announced. Regardless, the Astros are expected to begin that best-of-three series with Zack Greinke (3-3, 4.03 ERA).

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