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[CBS SportsLine]Rockets ' future looking very bright

Discussion in 'Houston Rockets: Game Action & Roster Moves' started by aluke, May 8, 2005.

  1. aluke

    aluke Member

    Jun 28, 2002
    Likes Received:
    Despite ugly start and finish, Rockets have foundation in place


    May 8, 2005
    CBS SportsLine.com wire reports

    HOUSTON -- To truly become the NBA's new dynamic duo, Tracy McGrady and Yao Ming will need a lot more help in Houston.

    That much was obvious during an up-and-down season that ended with the worst Game 7 defeat in league history, a 40-point loss to the Dallas Mavericks that showed just how far away the Rockets are from making a serious title run.

    "Our team had played well all year," Rockets coach Jeff Van Gundy said. "To crack like that in the biggest game of the year is disappointing."

    But it shouldn't have been totally surprising, considering the shortcomings McGrady and Yao were able to disguise until the Rockets were confronted with a younger, faster, more athletic team in the playoffs.

    Outside of its two All-Stars, Houston couldn't count on anyone else to create their own offense or stop any of the Mavericks' talented perimeter players. As the league's oldest and most experienced team, the Rockets too often looked feeble and slow.

    Game 7 was a microcosm of a season-long problem: Yao led Houston with 33 points, McGrady had 27 and the Rockets got just 16 points from the rest of the team.

    "When you don't have a third guy every night that you count on ... that third guy can be any one of a number of guys," Van Gundy said. "I really do believe that if our chemistry hadn't been as strong as it developed into, we would have had a lot less of a year."

    The Rockets brought McGrady to Houston in a trade with Orlando hoping that he could mesh with Yao in a way that high-scoring but erratic guards Steve Francis and Cuttino Mobley could not in their first-round exit last year.

    The new union didn't click immediately, however, as Houston got off to a 6-11 start that had McGrady complaining about Van Gundy's rigid offense, Yao wondering about the direction of the team and fans calling for the ouster of the irascible coach from New York.

    Van Gundy responded by loosening some of his control over the offense, and the Rockets made three midseason trades that netted veterans Jon Barry, David Wesley and Mike James. The changes sparked the Rockets over the second half of the season en route to a 51-31 finish and the No. 5 seed in the West.

    "It took a lot to get this team going ... we made a lot of changes," Rockets general manager Carroll Dawson said. "It's hard to take a team that far and count on it blending that fast."

    The adjustments continued into the final month of the season after starting power forward Juwan Howard was placed on the injured list with a sprained right knee.

    Lacking few other options, Van Gundy went with journeymen forwards Clarence Weatherspoon, Ryan Bowen and Scott Padgett. That underwhelming trio combined for an average of 6.2 points and 4.7 rebounds in the playoffs, essentially forcing Houston to play four-on-five offensively against the loaded Mavericks.

    The power forward spot will probably be where the Rockets focus most of their efforts in the offseason. Houston will look for someone who can take some of the rebounding load off Yao and can reliably defend the top big men in the West.

    Otherwise, Houston should return most of its nucleus. The Rockets have only two free agents, center Dikembe Mutombo and guard Jon Barry, and a $2 million team option for point guard Charlie Ward.

    Expect Mutombo, the NBA's second-highest paid player at $18.7 million this season (New Jersey covered $14.2 million of that), and Barry to return at reasonable prices.

    Van Gundy can only hope he has a quiet summer after drawing a $100,000 fine -- the largest ever assessed against a coach -- for accusing officials of targeting Yao this postseason. NBA commissioner David Stern said the fine was only "an intermediary step" and said an investigation will continue.

    Perhaps anticipating a stiffer punishment, Van Gundy has softened his stance and apologized for the remarks in recent days.

    "I couldn't be more contrite about being sorry for those things," Van Gundy said. "I never meant to impugn the integrity of anybody, certainly not the NBA."

    And McGrady, who fell to 0-for-5 in the postseason, plans to use his latest playoff failure - and the accompanying criticism that he's not a winner - as fuel for next season.

    "All of this will make me stronger, and I love it, every bit of it because I will have the last laugh," McGrady said. "I think with Yao and me and the supporting cast we have, it's only going to get better for us."
  2. Dnjndmrc5

    Dnjndmrc5 Member

    Sep 6, 2003
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    McGrady complained about the rigid offense back then? I didnt know that.
  3. dumbholly

    dumbholly Member

    May 10, 2003
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  4. BigM

    BigM Contributing Member

    Jul 1, 2001
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    that's cause it never happened. atleast not publically. t-mac and jvg had a conversation that apparently led to t-mac's increased role in the offense and the "loosening of the reigns" but mcgrady never complained about anything.
  5. swilkins

    swilkins Contributing Member

    Mar 5, 2003
    Likes Received:
    That pretty much summed it up. Too bad the article didn't say anything that we didn't already know.

    Such as the typical sports writers though.:rolleyes:

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