NEW: @hoopscritic helps us preview #Rockets free agency, with Serge Ibaka, Paul Millsap, and Gallina

Discussion in 'Houston Rockets: Game Action & Roster Moves' started by Stormy1234, May 19, 2017.

  1. Stormy1234

    Stormy1234 Member

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    very interesting what @hoopscritic about Harden and Mike D'Antoni
     
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  2. J.R.

    J.R. Contributing Member

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    You referred to one of Houston's problems as "spreadsheet ball". What did you mean & what's the role of what that played in the Rockets loss?

    That tweet was taken to mean a lot of things it didn't mean. What I meant was the way the Rockets totally blow off the mid-range. It's beyond the arc & in the paint.

    Jeff Hornacek said a few years back you need to, no matter how much you look at the math, if you're gonna wanna advance in the playoffs far, you'll need a team proficient at hitting mid-range shots. When you get up against the best defenses, that may be the only shot they give you. In this series, they not only were not proficient, they weren't interested. To give them(Spurs) an area of the floor they don't have to worry about defending was a gift. You saw the way Pop layered his two bigs. He invited the Rockets to take mid-range shots they never took. Everything they took in the last couple games was totally contested.

    When I refer to spreadsheet ball, that's what I'm referring to. At one point or another, you'll have to develop a mid-range game. You may not need it for 82 regular season games but you'll get in the playoffs & you're going after a team night after night after night. There's a familiarity that develops & how you defend a team & adjust. You can win 55 games without taking any mid-range shots. You get against the best, you need it to compliment it. It's not something the Rockets haven't quite gotten to. I don't know if they'll get to it. I don't know if they're identifying it as a problem.

    I would say they're identifying it partly. Mike talked about installing "more layers" of the offense. He didn't single out the mid-range game but he did single out for example initiating the offense in different ways. Spurs locked in on the Harden high PnR. Potential to have Harden off the ball more & get in their offense in different ways. By the playoffs, the Rockets offense was predictable.

    It was very predictable. They tried the ball out of Harden's hand when they brought in Lawson. Harden didn't want the ball out of his hands. Not every superstar is cut out to play with other superstars. Some function best as the single star with very good complimentary pieces. I think that's Harden. I don't know if it's practical to expect to diversify this offense by pulling the ball out of Harden's hands. I do believe that everyone has to be more proficient hitting mid-range shots & in PnR situations. We do need to see more pick & pop into their game. What will that require? You mentioned personnel upgrades & personnel upgrades are necessary.

    When I talk to people around the league in reference to the Rockets issues, one common name that continues to come up is Ryan Anderson. Nice player but the reality is he's a major negative on the defensive end. When you want to play small, you were ill-equipped to be able to add any kind of interior defense when Anderson is your big on the floor. That's a problem. You'd like to see more diversity out of his game than just the 3pt shot. The good news for them is...it was a salary I didn't love at the time but 3 years @ $60M, there would be teams that say "Hey, let's take a shot on this guy because he can stroke it from deep, good guy to have around the team."

    Again, you need to incorporate mid-range shots. We saw in this series that the Spurs didn't have to worry about the mid-range, they could be so aggressive out on the arc & plant a guy in the paint. Diversifying will help them & open the entire floor against great defenses. Anderson is a spot they can upgrade.

    3 years, $60M left - not a total albatross deal?

    Lesser of evils. If you're trying to get rid of a bad deal, you may say "Hey, we'll take this deal in lieu of our bad deal & throw an asset their way to attach to the bad deal. It's not necessarily an albatross. Anderson's style does fit how the league is playing now. Good size, stroke it from deep & not the worst rebounder. He'll scrap. His work ethic on the floor is a plus. The problem is he's slower than me. I'm 48 years old & overweight. That's a problem.

    With that said, the ability to shoot at 6'10 with some rebounding, it'll have some value to someone. A lot of value? Probably not. They'll be active in FA with guys like Millsap & Ibaka & if we can agree, we'll find a place for Anderson. I don't think it'll be difficult.
     
  3. J.R.

    J.R. Contributing Member

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    That's the one contract I'm uncertain about. If you could move Anderson & even if you have to attach a minor asset, that's a huge upgrade spot. In theory, they'd love Sam Dekker to evolve into that option but that's a gamble. Millsap, Ibaka & Gallinari or Rudy Gay. You're looking for a PF with some floor spacing ability but more athleticism & two-way potential.

    Gallo is an interesting player. He's very versatile. Attractive to Houston, he's wonderful at getting to the FT line. He's a capable defender on the perimeter. Here's where you get nervous: He's not opting out for less money. He may get a deal that dwarf's Ryan Anderson's & someone may give it to him + injuries. It's been a struggle to stay healthy. When healthy, he's terrific. Rudy Gay I would worry about a little bit. You have an injury like his, you wonder about foot speed. That's a major issue. The other three are interesting & will cost a lot of money.

    You saw where you could go this year just having James & these other pieces around him. As well as it worked with Anderson & Gordon, you need more. You need more in terms of what you upgrade & the spots you upgrade. Les is not shy about spending money. But some deals on their books going into '17-'18, Ariza is making a ridiculously low amount, the last year of his deal. After that? Good question. He's getting older. Will you re-sign him for the numbers he'll command on the open market? I don't know that you do. Out from under Nene, but that's only $3M.

    Here's the other thing & this comes back to D'Antoni a little bit: he made such a mistake in game five. You don't play Harrell & Dekker? I don't know that SA was the best series for Harrell but you don't play Dekker all the minutes you play him in the regular season & then at that point decide not to use him. You gotta. You have to. You see that & the difference between SA. Pop had situations to use Murray. Parker got hurt, he didn't hesitate, Murray is playing minutes. Doesn't have to be 30 minutes. 12-14 minutes, he's playing. Jonathon Simmons, been developing for years, Pop didn't hesitate. He's played well. You use these guys in the regular season. Both guys performed well enough, certainly Sam Dekker, to warrant playoff minutes. D'Antoni defaulted to who & what he knew, having your bench be that short backfired.

    That's one theme I come back to. We look at the SA series in isolation. Reality for the Rockets: it's been awhile since they've been consistently elite. Look at their season: started 31-9; last 42 - just 24-18. Why were they so strong the first half & 2nd half "lived on their reputation"? We all made excuses. Reality is, after early January, they did not have another stretch of consistently strong ball. First stretch: Dekker & Harrell had bigger roles. Rockets were better when the rotation was deeper. Other thing, D'Antoni's system. First 40 games, there was some "uniqueness". The longer teams got a look, the more they adjusted. Coaches made adjustment & D'Antoni didn't adjust back. The final thing is the Eric Gordon factor. First 40 games: borderline all-star. 2nd half, a volume shooter. One thing I might push back is your characterization earlier of Harden playing with other stars. Gordon, while not a star, proved when he was at his best, he & Harden did have some good synergy. For whatever reason, Gordon fell off. A big priority, any guy they get, need maybe not a star but someone in that number two role who is more consistent than their options this year.

    Let's start with the pushback. Gordon had a first great half but there was a reason they got him for $14M. He's not a star. He's a guy who struggled to stay healthy. He's the kind of role player I'm talking about. He's a good role player who can play the role you want him to play. In pushing back, you helped me make my case. I don't know that you need another perimeter dominant player with Harden. You need a good four to compliment Capela. Ibaka is the right guy. Rockets were 18th in defense. Some is pace-related. Personnel wise, you have a lot of weak defenders on the floor. Harden is a weak link. Anderson is weak link on that end of the floor. Lou Williams, not a defensive stopper. If you got Ibaka to go with Capela, ... Ibaka will be overpaid. Let's get it out there. He won't be a value signing.

    If I'm the Rockets & I want to upgrade, I gotta pick someone to overpay. My decision is do I want the shot blocker or the guy who will defend the perimeter a little better (Millsap). Do you take the Gallo risk? Gallinari is a third choice. If you have to, you go out & get him but you don't want to invest more in him than you did in Anderson. Ibaka is the most attractive.

    The thing with the Rockets, when it came playoff time, zero defensive identity. Mike was going with 3-guard units a majority of the time with the thought of our best chance is to just outscore people. We saw how that works. Against the best, that's not going to work. You have to have a way to get stops & develop a defensive identity. Part of your identity will always be the animal Patrick Beverley is. Ariza not as good as he once was. The years have caught up to him. If you brought in Ibaka & Capela, you have the ability to protect the rim with some good perimeter guys. If you can find a way to get Ibaka on board & I think he'll be in play...if Lowry doesn't go back, Toronto pulls back on bringing Ibaka back.

    You've been a big advocate of Harden for MVP. Your assessment of how much damage done the last two games? Cloud over his season or just a bad game & faith he'll turn it around?

    Somewhere in between. I had a conversation with Rick Kamla. He thought it affected his legacy, it was that bad. I don't go that far. Kamla said there's need to win guys & want to win guys. Harden's a want to win guy. Push come to shove, doesn't feel that motivation to need to go win. Doesn't mean he can't become a need to win a guy. He needs to grow up. He does.

    What Harden failed to grasp at the end of this series, there was unhappiness from his standpoint. If I'm D'Antoni, I'm not buying green bananas starting next season. Some of James' unhappiness & rumblings I've heard in reference to that is something that you gotta keep in mind. Not happy with how Mike operated towards the end of that series.

    James gotta understand when you're a star, you're not gonna win because of everyone around you. At times, you'll have to win in spite of some around you, whether it's teammates or coaching staff. You have to block out noise. You'll never have control over every part of the process. Only LeBron has that. Have some trust in others. When it doesn't go your way & it they don't do it the way you want it done, you have to push through that. James hasn't grasped that quite yet.

    The Rockets have gone all in on Harden. D'Antoni on a 3-year deal has to be real careful here early on. I heard a lot of people who wanted to criticize D'Antoni & not benching Harden. I totally disagree. He should have prodded him harder. You couldn't bench him. What happened to the last guy who benched him in a big spot? He got a pink slip 11 games in the next season. I get it. D'Antoni understands that in a lot of ways he's working for Harden but James in that respect has to take on more of that responsibility, with the understanding that in a partnership, not everything will please you all the time but you have to make up for a partner, bridge a gap where you don't agree & might not ever agree but you cannot let that be something becomes a major hangover where it totally affects your effort on the floor in a big time elimination game.

    One other item independent of James: I'm not blaming Rockets fans but we've seen a lot of games in these playoffs. The energy level was very, very low in game six. Not a lot of people in seats. I get that "real fans" are sitting at top. The energy of the building comes from the lower bowl & has more casual fans who can afford those expensive seats but the fans in those seats gotta do a better job being there & lending energy. I'm not saying fans are the reason they lost by 39 but they could give more of a hand than they did that day.

    Rockets realize it's an issue & are trying to do what they can. What happened early in game six was embarrassing. It's not why you lose by 39 but does not help either.
     
    #3 J.R., May 19, 2017
    Last edited: May 19, 2017
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  4. burnshroom

    burnshroom Member

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    @J.R.

    Sometimes I feel better about reading an interview at my own pace than waiting for talkers to.... talk.

    Thanks for transcribing this.
     
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  5. Os Trigonum

    Os Trigonum Contributing Member

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    best part of that whole thing right there. thanks for the transcription, @J.R.
     
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  6. caneks

    caneks Rookie

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    You can safely assume that even Rockets land them all without losing anything, it won't be enough to win title.
     
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  7. jmwilliamson

    jmwilliamson Contributing Member

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    It's interesting they think Ibaka is our best bet. I certainly know if we could manage to unload Anderson I'd be thrilled with Ibaka as an upgrade. At least Ibaka can contribute when his shot isn't falling. Anderson was just completely worthless so frequently. And I'm not even buying that "spacing the floor" argument because it seemed like by the end they knew when he was off he wasn't worth covering.
     
  8. Ming The King

    Ming The King Member

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    Finally, more people are pushing for Ibaka
    we should have brought him in the last trade deadline.
    a Capela Ibaka Nene frontline sounds better
    and Montrezl and Chinanu more ready to go
     
  9. jmwilliamson

    jmwilliamson Contributing Member

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    He's nowhere near the top of my list. I think we'd be WAY better off with anyone of Jimmy Butler, Paul George and Gordon Hayward (all of whom should be available at the right price). But if Ibaka is who we can get, he'd certainly be a massive upgrade over Anderson.

    edit: do you think we can trade Ryan Anderson for Corey Brewer?
     
  10. ThatBoyNick

    ThatBoyNick Member

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    I think this is the offseason to cash out with Hardens extension.

    Dump Anderson and maybe Lou, try to sign the best talent available, extend Harden/Capela/Ariza after.
     
  11. Ming The King

    Ming The King Member

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    Agreed. Butler, Hayward and George are better. maybe Morey make some miracle.
    But Ibaka sounds a very realistic option. And is a big upgrade in the PF position.
     
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  12. FTW Rockets FTW

    FTW Rockets FTW Contributing Member

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    I see the robot @J.R. is at work on Friday when the rest of you bozos are probably lining up the chinese buffets

    Give the man his money!
     
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  13. cheke64

    cheke64 Member

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    He's gonna get MDA fired this new season.
     
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  14. desi tmac91

    desi tmac91 Member

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    Wow, I never considered Gallinari but that makes a ton of sense. Unfortunately, someone is going to overpay him so he's just a dream scenario like George etc.
     
  15. Rocket River

    Rocket River Member

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    Forcing the Rockets to take MID RANGE Shots was done by allowing the Spurs to play a zone
    If they called defensive 3 seconds . . . . . then things change

    Still comes down to Reffing

    Rocket River
     
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  16. Rocket River

    Rocket River Member

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    Nice Podcast

    Rocket River
     
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  17. RocketsFido

    RocketsFido Member

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    Raptors management already leaked that Ibaka has agreed to re-sign verbally. Doubt he'll go anywhere else.

    Maxing an aging Milsap will handicap this franchise until his contract is over...
     
  18. ThatBoyNick

    ThatBoyNick Member

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    That depends on how he ages, it's rare but some guys can ball until their 35. Milsaps 32 and is still in his prime with no signs of decline yet, I wouldn't mind giving him a 3 year flat max if all better options are off the table.
     
  19. anchel

    anchel Member

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    Hayward is staying and we don't have the pieces to get Paul George.

    I disagree with the mid-range shots argument. Our issue was that nobody was able to make plays aside of Harden. It was D'Antoni's mistake not to use more Beverley off the p&r, but he's still what he is, and we got no penetration threat from our SF-PF, in an offense based on penetration and dishing (because it's Ok to renounce to post up plays but anyway you need to put the ball into the paint somehow to play decent basketball).

    I agree there is a room for improvement defensively, and there you gotta look to your starting PF and to a guy like Ibaka. But there's an even bigger margin of improvement at your playmaking, overall offensive talent with your starting 5, and there you should look at Ariza even more than Anderson, because Ryan is at the least a 40% 3pt threat, but Trevor is shooting 35%, can't create with the ball, won't move without the ball like a Dekker, and in my opinion is not even a top defensive player anymore (the fact that he's important for us defensively not necessarily makes him a better defender). If his role is self limited to defend at a high level and make threes, and he's not defending/making 3s at a high level, he should be very replaceable. You can get a guy that can create more offense, and then Anderson's role makes even more sense, since he will have more good 3s and is a proven elite 3PT shooter at his position. Then you trust defensive improvement to your backup team too, to Capela's growth and Harden. If you improve your starting offense you may dispense with Lou (defensive cancer) and the ultrasmallball lineup. For instance, a second unit with Pat-Gordon-Ariza/Dekker-Nene + a new veteran 7 footer, absolutely improves your overall defensive level.

    How is Gallinari's defense against SFs? What are our chances to sign Iguodala (better playmaker, defender, passer than Ariza)? Should we take a look to Lowry?

    Of course I would try Millsap first of all, if we can find a place for Anderson, because he's a top-15 player in the league. But thats unlikely. And I would keep seeing Ariza as a very replaceable starter in a MDA's offense.
     
    #19 anchel, May 20, 2017
    Last edited: May 20, 2017
  20. The Cat

    The Cat Contributing Member

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    I feel like I'm going to go blue in the face saying this, but 99% of these "agreed to re-sign" leaks are pure propaganda. It's the same exact principle as the "we'll match anything!" talk you hear from GMs regarding restricted FAs -- basically, it's the original team trying to scare off potential bidders and limit competition.

    These are higher-profile guys than Ibaka, but Durant in 2016 and Dwight in 2013 are two very recent FA examples where for MONTHS (almost a year in Dwight's case) there were rumors that the player was a virtual lock to stay. Then things changed. Once July 1 arrives and other teams can talk to FAs and agents, everything is on the table.

    It also cuts both ways. If Toronto loses Lowry, which is starting to seem very possible, why would they pay much money to a veteran like Ibaka? That's a classic "mediocrity treadmill" move. Same logic as the Rockets' rumored likelihood of matching anything on Parsons in 2014... until they missed out on Bosh, and then it didn't make as much sense anymore.

    Ibaka might stay, he might go (and the same goes for any FA), but an anonymous leak from a given team before July 1 that the player is likely to re-sign doesn't move the needle for me in any direction.
     
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