WTF Texans and Rockets?!?
As the days go by, it seems as if the problems continue to grow. Perhaps the biggest problem is that they're self-inflicted wounds. Those are the worst kind because they could've been avoided had one taken the proper precautionary steps. The salt in the wounds are the moves the Astros continue to make that improve an already championship roster. Meanwhile, their football and basketball counterparts are steadily making fools of themselves. Let's take a closer look at what is making Houston a frustrating place for sports fans:
To extend or not to extend
Rockets head coach Mike D'Antoni is essentially a lame duck coach heading into the final season of his contract. Some of his assistants have been run off, or fired. There was even talk of the team bringing in Tyronn Lue. Add all this to the fact that he called off contract extension talks amid some language in his contract, only for the talks to begin again after said language was removed adds up to a puzzling situation to say the least. The Rockets need to get a clear cut direction for their head coach and commit to it. This Shakespeare-like drama isn't a good look.
Texans fire Brian Gaine
When the Texans let general manager Brian Gaine go last Friday evening, it was a shock to the system. Who fires their GM weeks before training camp is supposed to start? This move was not only bad timing, it came out of nowhere. Not only are fans, and the media, looking for definitive answers, but they're also left wondering if Cal McNair is stable enough to be running the show on Kirby? It's a strange flex for Cal to use at a strange time, but it's his team now and maybe he's out to prove things will be different under his rule.
The rumor mill has been hot and heavy as it pertains to the Rockets. Supposedly they're willing to trade anybody not named James Harden. There has even been talk that the willingness, or lack thereof, to trade Jadaveon Clowney could be a reason why the Texans fired Gaine. On the Rockets end, change is needed. They need a shock to the system since the formula they have in place isn't getting the ultimate job done. They may be heavily relying upon other teams to get weaker in order to make a move up the food chain (like the Warriors). The Texans on the other hand, have not improved beyond a team stuck in purgatory of being good enough to barely make the playoffs, but bad enough to not not draft very high. A Clowney trade could've brought them a decent enough haul to help improve their chances. Same for the Rockets. A tweak to their lineup could bring enough of a change to help get them over the roadblock that resides in the Bay Area.
The rich get richer
The Astros finally called up Yordan Alvarez. He promptly hit a home run in his second at bat to set off a frenzy of hot takes about his future. This comes on the heels of he and Kyle Tucker both having killer seasons in the minors and some debating which of the two should be called up. All of this, and I haven't even mentioned Forrest Whitley's inevitable call up. Oh, and that other famous beard who used to pitch for the Astros recently had to settle for a one year pro-rated $20 million dollar deal with the Braves which is a far cry from the multi-year big money deal he thought he deserved. Meanwhile, the Astros aren't missing him at all and are sporting one of the best records in MLB, despite being plagued with injuries.
So what now?
The Astros are basically on cruise control. They just have to continue to make the right decisions when it comes to personnel and they'll be fine. Jim Crane will need to dip into the luxury tax in order to keep more of the core players together if they plan on continuing to contend over the next few years. Even if they don't, they have really good players in the pipeline to keep on chugging along. The Rockets have been on the brink the last couple years. However, they need some tweaking in order to move past their stagnation. What that tweaking needs to be perhaps comes in the form of a coaching staff and roster shakeup. As long as they have Harden, they'll be OK, but the window to win a title is shrinking with the days that go by. Creating some roster flexibility by trading Chris Paul and/or Clint Capela will help, but it depends on what they get back in return. The Texans have the unfair advantage of being the drug this city is addicted to. Fan support won't waver because the city needs football like a junky needs their next fix. That's why Bill O'Brien can be a C-student, get extended while the guy he wanted as general manager gets fired, and seemingly still has job security. There are still moves for the Texans to make, but with the draft gone and free agency dried up, those moves are limited this offseason.
I wish nothing but the best for all Houston sports teams.The Astros probably need it the least as they have taken the proper steps to ensure they'll be contenders for years to come. The Rockets can be fun to watch at times, but are stuck in a rut in which it seems they may be in for the foreseeable future due to the confines they've gotten themselves into with some albatross type contracts. It's not impossible, but it is an improbable mountain to climb. The Texans have moved to the front of the line when it comes to hot messes. They need to become more focused and driven. If they can commit to a certain direction and stick to it, They have some pieces in place to build around and need to make the right decisions moving forward in order to get out of the rut they're in. For the sake and sanity of Houston sports fans, I hope and pray the Texans and Rockets get their collective shit together.