Tough time functioning

Why are the Rockets scared to play basketball without James Harden?

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James Harden can find his shot whenever on the court. He is averaging 38.1 points per game which is first in the league. Harden was criticized for not taking enough shots on Christmas Day. But, is it really Harden's fault why the Rockets lost that game against the Warriors? No, because his teammates should pick up the slack!

Russell Westbrook has looked great for nine straight games but struggled Christmas Day against the Warriors. At times it looks Westbrook is playing in panic mode instead of attack mode. He struggled with or without Harden on the court. Westbrook still needs to work on his confidence even when shots are not falling. Another thing Westbrook still struggles with is forcing shots that are not there. Westbrook must stay courageous, optimistic, aware, and know to pick his moments.

Danuel House must make shots when they matter. House shoots over 40% from the field but struggles when his number is called. Harden would love to see House make those shots when doubled late in games. The only way House can become a great player is when he shows up in big moments. If House wants to be a spot up shooter, he can not shoot 35% from the three-point line.

Austin Rivers can be a tough watch at times because of the talent he is hiding. Rivers has everything in his repertoire to become a great player. He honestly has a good-looking crossover and shooting form in the NBA. It is just sad that he never displays it in game play. Rivers shooting the ball less than 15 times a game is a crime. Sometimes it looks like Rivers is scared to touch the ball. There is no reason for Rivers just to make himself a spot up shooter in games. Rivers is averaging 8 points per game which is an underachievement for his skill set. It is extremely important for Rivers to step up more when Harden gets doubled. He has the talent to compete for the NBA Sixth Man of the Year every season.

Ben McLemore had his bright spots this season but can not stay consistent. By McLemore not staying consistent means he is non-existent in games. There are times earlier this season when he struggled to get minutes or score zero points. This could hurt the Rocket's bench in a dramatic way. He can continue to be the bright spot for the Rockets when confident. McLemore is averaging 10.2 points per game this season. He has not averaged this much since his second season with the Kings. He had a career high against Toronto with 35 points. One thing McLemore must do is make plays when shots are not falling. When McLemore stays active defensively, he becomes a problem for other teams. He has finally found his NBA home with the Rockets.

The Rockets rank dead last in bench play this season. This bench is also shooting right under 40% on the season. If the Rockets want a chance to compete for an NBA Championship, the bench must be better. Daryl Morey could make possible moves for free agents or trades to help the cause.

NOTE: Eric Gordon comes back Tuesday versus the Pelicans.

Jeff Green just cleared waivers with the Utah Jazz. He could be helpful to the bench if Morey decides to pick him up.

Rockets just signed William Howard from the G-League. He is a 6'8 lengthy shooter.

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What happened with Earl Thomas? Photo by Alika Jenner/Getty Images

The past 48 hours have been a roller coaster of a ride for the Houston Texans. They went from a team on the verge of upgrading their secondary with one of the best defensive backs of the past decade in Earl Thomas, to conflicting reports to why the workout had stalled.

After hearing from head coach and general manager Bill O'Brien Wednesday morning via Zoom, here is a complete timeline of the events that took place between the Texans and their debacle with Thomas' workout, featuring the one and only — coronavirus.

A.J. Moore's injury opens the door for the Texans to sign Earl Thomas

When the Texans dropped their third consecutive game against the Pittsburgh Steelers, Houston also lost safety A.J. Moore in the process. The 24-year-old defensive back from Mississippi left Sunday's game with a severe hamstring injury and did not return. Monday morning, the Texans announced that Moore could miss up to three weeks.

With Moore placed on injured reserve, O'Brien and his staff felt it was time to search the free agency pool in hopes of finding a player who can help fill in the empty void at safety. Although several players on the market could have stepped in for the injured Moore (i.e. Eric Reid and HaHa Clinton Dix), the Texans arranged a workout for free-agent Earl Thomas set for Tuesday, September 29. Thomas — along with several other players — made their way to Houston late Monday afternoon for their respective workouts.

Thomas' fit with the Texans & "signing this week is more likely than not"

Albeit Thomas' potential signing would have been a replacement for the injured Moore, the seven-time Pro-Bowler would have made an immediate impact on the Texans' secondary.
During his lone season with the Baltimore Ravens, Thomas, 31, proved he can still be a productive player on the field — despite being a year removed from a broken leg he sustained during his final season in Seattle.
In 2019, he re-established himself as a Pro-Bowl safety with 72 tackles (32 solo hits), six QB hit, and two sacks on the season. However, Thomas' best attribute to a team remains his pass coverage abilities, as he registered four pass deflections, four interceptions and only allowed 44% of passes (25 targets) to be completed in pass coverage.
In comparison to the Texans, Justin Reid has been Houston's most reliable DB through the first three games of the season, as he has only allowed 50% of passes to be completed in pass coverage. The second-best for Houston has been Vernon Hargreaves — who is allowing close to 70% of completions in pass coverage (66.7%) thus far.
The arrival of Thomas would have been a steal for Houston. However, with the narrative of being a locker room cancer, it appeared that the Texans were willing to look beyond Thomas' flaws in character. Late-Monday evening, all signs pointed toward a potential signing that was "more likely than not, according to ESPN's Adam Schefter.

Virus outbreak alters Thomas' workout with the Texans

Early Tuesday morning, O'Brien and his staff received a call from the league office stating that eight members of the Tennessee Titans (now nine) tested positive for the Coronavirus. The NFL's first outbreak of COVID-19 led to several teams around the league to alter their plans for the week — including the Texans.

O'Brien said instead of having Thomas — along with several other players — held up in a hotel due to the uncertainty surrounding COVID; they felt it was in everyone's best interest to cancel all workouts scheduled for Tuesday. But instead of rescheduling, the Texans ceased Thomas' workout.

Speculations to why Houston canceled Thomas' workout altogether spread like wildfire. The most discussed reason, "the Texans decided Earl Thomas was not a good fit for their locker room." Both parties credited the latter. And late-Tuesday night, the outspoken future Hall-Of-Famer confirmed via Instagram that COVID was the reason behind his nixed workout with the Texans.

Ahead of practice Wednesday morning, O'Brien reaffirmed that Thomas' canceled workout was nothing more than concerns surrounding COVID. He has not ruled out the possibility of revisiting Thomas in the near future, so a potential signing could be put on hold for the time being.

"Earl Thomas is a hell of a player, he's had a great career," O'Brien said. "We had a bunch of guys in and we decided to cancel. We'll see how it goes moving forward. That's really what it was. It's not anything other than that. We've got a lot of respect for Earl."

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