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Chron: Keeping Rockets Bench Players Happy a Problem

Discussion in 'Houston Rockets: Game Action & Roster Moves' started by JeffB, Nov 26, 2002.

  1. JeffB

    JeffB Contributing Member

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    Keeping Rockets bench players happy a problem
    By JONATHAN FEIGEN
    Copyright 2002 Houston Chronicle

    PORTLAND, Ore. -- Now a member of the Rockets' battalion of reserves, Kenny Thomas couldn't celebrate the teams' sudden depth.

    A weakness has become a strength. Thomas was no longer starting, but he was playing and still playing often. But he just couldn't bring himself to offer his endorsement.

    "I'm just going to plead the Fifth," he said, when asked about the Rockets' newfound depth.

    Left unsaid was that he could not praise any plan that "demoted" him to the second team.

    Even the usually chatty Maurice Taylor barely dipped a toe into those waters. "The coach makes the calls," he said when asked of his place coming off the Rockets' bench. "Whatever."

    But even with the little they did and didn't say, they spoke volumes about the Rockets' potential strength and possible problems.

    A year ago, the Rockets' bench had been reduced to rookies and happy role players. Injuries tore through many plans, but their damage was most obvious when the Rockets became out-manned in many of their 54 losses.

    This season, they have a surfeit of players that consider themselves starters. Even when facing the Trail Blazers, long one of the league's deepest teams, tonight, the Rockets' second team -- at least in the frontcourt -- measures up well.

    But that also could be the rub. The more productive the second team is, the better served the Rockets will be. But the better those individuals perform, the more they could consider themselves deserving to start.

    Rockets coach Rudy Tomjanovich did not want to discuss even the possibility of friction. "Everybody goes through that," he said. But he did say that few current assignments could be considered permanent.

    "I'm still trying to find out who this team is," Tomjanovich said.

    But the Rockets have had success with the current rotation, at least in the frontcourt where there are options. With starter and second-leading scorer Cuttino Mobley out and Moochie Norris struggling, there are few choices in the backcourt. But the overall bench play has been solid enough for Tomjanovich to be able to consider letting the current mix settle in for a while, particularly since he has been willing to go with the hot hand (with starter Eddie Griffin misfiring Sunday -- he made one of seven shots -- Thomas played 42 minutes off the bench).

    In the past five games, the Rockets' reserves have outscored four of five opponents and by an average of 28-17. Even with Yao Ming, a key to many of the high-scoring games for the Rockets' bench, shifted to the starting lineup and the injury to Mobley, the Rockets outscored the Clippers off the bench 25-23 on Sunday.

    The move of Yao to the starting lineup, however, could help inspire the next changes. Thomas began the season as the starting small forward. But Glen Rice, who has made 19 of his 31 shots in the past three games since returning to the starting lineup and is coming off his most prolific scoring game as a Rocket, will likely remain a starter.

    But Griffin, the only frontcourt player to start every game, is making just 39.2 percent of his shots, wasting many of the opportunities presented by double teams and zones against Yao. Taylor and Thomas can be more effective as passers to Yao than Griffin. The Rockets have had success with big men providing interior passing against zones. But Taylor has not consistently shot well, and Thomas has been less effective as a scorer against zones than when he can put the ball on the floor and create his own shot.

    Tomjanovich also might prefer the luxury of having players off the bench that can trigger his offense. Last season, Rockets reserves did well just to fit in. This season, they can take over games.

    "It's a factor," Tomjanovich said. "They know how to play. We have guys we can go to, who can score. We can run plays for guys."

    That can be a huge advantage when the Rockets need to go to the bench to change the flow of the game. With the team rapidly losing its composure against the Lakers last week, Taylor started the fourth quarter and the Rockets immediately went to him. He scored nine points in three minutes, killing the Lakers' rally and sending the Rockets to a road win.

    But Taylor is averaging 20.1 minutes per game, down from 28.6 two seasons ago (he missed all of last season with an Achilles' injury). Thomas is averaging 28.3 minutes after averaging 34.5 last season.

    "For someone like me, it's definitely an adjustment," Taylor said. "I never had to come off the bench before. It's always a good problem to have too many players instead of last year, not having enough players. But it is an adjustment. It's a mental and physical adjustment. Your time out there is going to be shorter. Your room for error is a lot smaller.

    "It's always an advantage to have veterans coming in. It's definitely a plus. But it's definitely different."

    He didn't say better or worse. For now at least, the most accurate answer might be both.
     
  2. barbourdg

    barbourdg Contributing Member

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    You beat me to it Jeff. This is a major problem the Rockets have with Kenny Thomas. He was whinning last year, and he has already started again this year. He thinks that only starters make a difference on this team. I am so sick of his attitude. As the chronicle pointed out, he is still getting major minutes.
     
  3. PSU

    PSU Member

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    Could this be the reason that Nachbar has not played a single minute? Not that Rudy doesn't like him, but he doesn't want to offend the veterans.

    Also, I think this is where Steve Francis can step up his leadership. He has to get it into these guys that the goal this year is to make it to the playoffs.
     
  4. rezdawg

    rezdawg Contributing Member

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    I remember Kenny getting pissed last year when he didnt start. What a pain in the azz. Everyone needs to just worry about winning.
     
  5. Relativist

    Relativist Contributing Member

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    Come on, guys. However you feel, it's not fair to bash anyone for whining, because NO ONE'S WHINING. Asked point blank how they feel about coming off the bench, Kenny and Mo can't respond that they're thrilled about it, but they don't complain about it either. Would you rather have them LIKE coming off the bench, like Cato? Consider also that Eddie's been sucking it up. Once things get stable, everything should be fine. And of course, winning cures everything. :D
     
  6. Sane

    Sane Member

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    Amusing to see there a couple of people who still use Cato to make their favourite player look better.

    This team would improve tremendously is they traded KT. More consistent minutes for MoT and EG would lead to betetr FG%.

    At some point Kenny will start whining, and he'll fortunately get traded.

    It's just not a good situation for him or us. Tough noogies for him, because we'll be one of the best teams in the league next year, and will be the dark horse of the playoffs this year.
     
  7. Cohen

    Cohen Contributing Member

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    Exactly what I was thinking, except he doesn't need to vocalize his whining. Rockets who generate negativity in the lockerroom seem to get one-way tickets out-of-town.
     
  8. Dallas Rocket

    Dallas Rocket Contributing Member

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    There are WE players.......

    And there are ME players.

    Winning teams have WE players, especially when you are 9-10 deep.

    KT is a ME player- his selfish play, attitude and body language speak volumes.

    ME players become cancers on teams.

    Bye, bye Kenny.


    Dallas Rocket
     
  9. Rockets2K

    Rockets2K Clutch Crew

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    I hate to say it cause I like KT..but he doesnt sound happy at all..
    combine this interview with the interviews where he spoke about his contract problems..It really is starting to sound like he feels that he muist be a starter no matter what.

    btw..that was just my take on things, Im not putting words in his mouth..so dont jump on me.

    why cant we have guys that are just happy to help the team win?
    He and Mo could be major pieces of the best forward lineup in the league, if they will just recognize that we need all of them at their best to make it..
     
  10. kidrock8

    kidrock8 Member

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    But Kenny Thomas is an all-world defensive player, we must keep him. :rolleyes:

    Obviously, we can't get rid of Mo T and his contract that is the only thing larger than his rump.

    However, KT is probably tradeable for a conditional #1 pick. I personally don't think it would kill us to get rid of him. In fact, I believe it would be case of "addition by subtraction".

    We must get rid of potential cancers before we become the Blazers.
     
  11. zzhiggins

    zzhiggins Member

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    Exactly what I was thinking,,,,except Kenny doesn't whine,,,This is the second time Feigan has tried to get KT to say something out of line.
    The first time KT told him that he wanted to stay with the Rockets and just wanted to get the contract thing behind him..
    Now Feigan asks how do you like coming off the bench,,KT answers the same way any good player would, he wants to start,,
    RudyT will decide....
     
    #11 zzhiggins, Nov 26, 2002
    Last edited: Nov 26, 2002
  12. Possum

    Possum Member

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    Yep, we don't want to have to many players on our team. It doesn't seem to be bothering Dallas. The Blazers problem is they have a bunch of degenerates on their team. There's one player on that team that is not an self centered jerk, Sabonis. KT is a very good miss match player. If can can except his role he will be a big part of our success. He hasn't said anything IMO that makes me think he is going to be problem.....Yet. We'll see!
     
  13. Easy

    Easy Very Calm
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    Ah, I think it was Taylor who said that. Thomas, on the other hand, pled "the Fifth," which means: "I have very bad things to say. But I am not saying it b/c it will get me into trouble."

    Now, either (1) he is joking, (2) he is stupid as to not knowing how to express displeasure in a diplomatic way, (3) he really means to show his displeasure, or (4) Feigen misrepresented what he said.

    If it's (2) or (3), he will eventually say something more damaging.
     
  14. DaDakota

    DaDakota Contributing Member
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    The only change I would make in the starting 5 is that I would start MoT over Griff.

    MoT and Ming have good chemistry together and MoT is a better scorer then Griff right now.

    I would then trade KT to a team that he can be more productive on...preferebly in the Eastern conference.

    DaDakota
     
  15. Free Agent

    Free Agent Member

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    Thomas? Pass the ball?????
     
  16. MManal

    MManal Member
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    I was initially against trading KT b/c the Rockets appeared to have no real need and players in the frontcourt were still very questionable in health and/or experience terms. At this stage, the Rockets have a major hole at the third guard spot due to Moochie's continued sucktitde and could utilize KT as bait to acquire a veteran third guard. Personally, I would think the ideal option right now would be Jon Barry from Detroit. KT gets to go to a team that really does not have many scoring options, and he can iso or do whatever else. In Detroit, as long as you sell out to defense you'll get to play. Barry's minutes have been inconsistent this season due to the acquisition of Chauncey Billups; however, when he has played, Barry has been nails. Barry is a very good shooter, ball handler and passer that does not turn it over much. Plus, at 6-5, he has the size to play both guard spots.
     
  17. DaDakota

    DaDakota Contributing Member
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    MManal,

    That is a great deal for both teams....can we throw Moochie in and snag Damon Jones back?

    :)

    DaDakota
     
  18. Andy Sheets

    Andy Sheets Contributing Member

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    I have to admit that I now think the Rockets should move Kenny. Unless Rudy can get him to turn his attitude around you just can't mess around when a guy is feeling like that. He's a good player so I don't think the Rockets would have much trouble finding a team to trade him to.
     
  19. ROXTXIA

    ROXTXIA Contributing Member

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    I recently defended KT and said we should give him a new contract. I have nothing bad to say about him but I honestly believe T-Mo and Boki could be our future at the 3.

    Others have pointed out that having so many ball-hogging...oops, uh, players who need the ball to be effective...on the same team could be detrimental. Steve, Cat, and KT qualify in this regard. Don't even get me started on The Moochinator.

    Mo and Yao play well together, and Mo is untradeable. So KT for a draft pick, barring a major trade for another playmaker (*cough* Jalen Rose---no, I'm not counting on it, just fantasizing) would make sense.
     
  20. codell

    codell Contributing Member

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    FA,

    In KT's defense, he actually does pass the ball. In fact, I tracked assist opportunities over a 4 game stretch a few games ago and in 3 of those 4 games, Kenny had the most AOs on the team and in all 4, he had more than Steve. KT is actually a good passer and I feel he tries to make things happen with his one on one skills and footwork, but like Steve, just forces things sometimes and comes across as being selfish, even though there are several players on our team ahead of him in that category.
     
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