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[CHRON] : A 'clear picture' of what's needed

Discussion in 'Houston Rockets: Game Action & Roster Moves' started by Dr of Dunk, May 9, 2005.

  1. Dr of Dunk

    Dr of Dunk Clutch Crew

    Aug 27, 1999
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    A 'clear picture' of what's needed
    Dallas series shows Rockets requirements for deeper run
    Copyright 2005 Houston Chronicle

    The playoffs, Jeff Van Gundy said before they began, would demonstrate what the Rockets were and were not, what they had and what they would need.

    He could not, however, have known how clear that would all be.

    At their best, the Rockets showed against the Mavericks that they can be sensational — a mix of solid, veteran role players around a still-blossoming, gifted young center and one of the league's most gifted stars.

    At their worst, they were old and slow (at least when matched with the Mavericks' quickness), short-handed and in some ways outmanned.

    In total, they were rebuilt and greatly improved. A foundation has been laid, but some major remodeling remains in order.

    "Certainly, the way it ended does not reflect well on myself, on the team," Van Gundy said. "But it does not detract from my overall pride in the team, how they went about their business. But it does show just how very, very far we have to go. To play with a complete lack of poise and to crack like we did (in a 40-point loss in Game 7), it gives you a clear picture ... of where we need to improve and where to go.

    "(I'm more) disappointed than I have been in a long time, but I temper that with great appreciation and pride with how our guys conducted themselves this year."

    Change is clearly inevitable. Van Gundy did not get into specifics, but he sounded as if he wanted his admiration and appreciation clear and on the record while the 2004-05 Rockets were still all Rockets.

    "I've really enjoyed this year with our team as much as any year in coaching," Van Gundy said. "I loved my Knicks teams. I loved who they were, what they stood for, how they competed both when I was an assistant and a head coach. I can honestly say I've never enjoyed a group any more than this group.

    "Since we restructured the team, I just like them. I like who they are and how they go about their business. Their care factor is high. We're not perfect, and we don't play perfect. But I believe in the team. I've really enjoyed them.

    "That's one of the reasons you always want to keep going with a group like this. Because you know not every year is like this. Not every year do you have a group that gets it and that gets you and that you get them and you have a common goal. Many times, there are agendas outside the realm of playing well. I wish we could have done something differently in the series, played a little better in the home games."

    It began with T-Mac
    The Rockets' 51-win season was remarkable considering its rapid roster changes, injuries and illnesses. But the rebuilding that began with the trade for Tracy McGrady is far from complete, particularly after the season ended without the Rockets winning a playoff series.

    Rockets owner Leslie Alexander made it clear on the day he announced the McGrady trade that he planned to sign Yao Ming to a long-term deal at his first opportunity. Though Yao is signed through next season, the Rockets can negotiate his next contract beginning this summer. Yao could choose to become a restricted free agent in 2006 but has not shown a hint of a wandering eye.

    Dikembe Mutombo, Jon Barry and Ryan Bowen are free agents. Mutombo, 38, who earned in excess of $18 million ($4.496 million of which was paid by the Rockets) this season, might have played well enough for teams to offer him a starter's salary. The Rockets might not be ready to go that high at Yao's position.

    Barry, 35, planned to retire after the season but has said he would like to return to Houston.

    The Rockets also have players out of the rotation who are entering the last season of their contracts. Some combination of Clarence Weatherspoon, Moochie Norris, Vin Baker (who has said he will exercise his option on another season) and Charlie Ward (who has two seasons left on his deal but with a team buyout after next season) could be dealt to a team seeking to position itself for next summer's free agency.

    To facilitate such a deal, the Rockets would have to inherit a long-term contract, a move they would make only for a player who would be in the rotation. Those deals are usually made at the trade deadline, rather than during the offseason.

    Start at the 4

    1. Sign Yao Ming to the longest extension that the next collective bargaining agreement will allow.
    2. Draft The best player with explosive quickness remaining at No. 24 at any position other than center.
    3. Spend
    The mid-level exception on someone who can contribute right away.
    For an upgrade at power forward, a position left wanting with Juwan Howard out against Dallas, the Rockets could look to the shot-blocking talent and shooting range of Donyell Marshall, the inside muscle of Reggie Evans, or the raw skills of Stromile Swift.

    The Rockets also could look for a small forward/shooting guard. Latrell Sprewell, a Van Gundy favorite, will be a free agent. Cuttino Mobley might have to settle for mid-level money during a summer that will be glutted with top free-agent shooting guards.

    The Rockets will not rule out looking for a point guard and have in the past been interested in Damon Stoudamire. They also are likely to use the summer league to evaluate Vasilis Spanoulis, a point guard who played for Maroussi in Greece after he was acquired from Dallas in a draft-day trade last year. Forward Malick Badiane, the Rockets' 2003 second-round pick, also could play for the summer league team but is more likely to spend another season overseas.

    The Rockets own the 24th pick in the first round of the June 28 draft. If the draft brings an athletic power forward who can earn a rotation spot, the Rockets could look elsewhere in free agency.

    No makeover this year
    However the offseason goes, the Rockets will not be starting over like they did after last season.

    Overall, progress has been steady if slow, from 45 wins to 51 and from a five-game series against the Lakers to a seven-gamer against the Mavs. The trades for Mike James and David Wesley solidified a rebuilt backcourt. Bob Sura is expected to be stronger in his second season in Houston after knee surgery this offseason. Howard is expected to come back for a 12th season after a viral heart infection.

    "It's been a fun ride," McGrady said. "There's been a lot of changes on this basketball club, especially for the guys that have been here since day one this season.

    "Once we got these other guys in — the Jon Barrys, David Wesleys, Mike Jameses — we turned around. With those guys coming here, us winning 51 games has been a great ride. They helped me out so much, not just on the basketball court but keeping me mentally focused."

    It was a good start. It is not the finish.

    "What (the result does not) do is affect my pride level in the team," Van Gundy said. "I think they stand for what I feel a professional team should be. I think they've gone about it the right way, from a team spirit to practice habits to unselfishness. My pride level won't change based on any result.

    "I think the results have an impact on how you evaluate the season, most certainly. I'm not going to get into whether something was a success or not. The ultimate thing everyone strives for in this league is the ultimate success."



    Rockets Summary

    He'll be back
    Tracy McGrady said he would remain proud of the Rockets' season despite the way it ended.

    "I think we did a hell of a job," McGrady said. "We started off this year in a hole, made some great changes, got some guys that helped our team out. Coming into this playoff series, we were the underdogs. I think we pushed this team to the max. We just didn't have enough.

    "Regardless of if I got knocked out again, whatever people want to say — 'I'm a loser,' whatever — I promise you I'll be back next year."

    Nothing personal
    The end of the series with the Mavericks inspired Dallas coach Avery Johnson to insist he never meant to be critical of Rockets coach Jeff Van Gundy when Johnson suggested he, too, might have to act like a crazy coach.

    "This wasn't anything personal," Johnson said. "If I had a problem with something that he was doing or anybody, I would say it. This was the same guy after Game 1 when I got my $10,000 fine and came to my rescue. That's what everybody failed to realize.

    "I had a problem with the coverage. And I had a problem with some of the things that was going on with my own team. Now you know the truth. Sometimes my team doesn't listen to me the way I want them to. If I had a problem with anybody, I would have mentioned their name."

    Johnson did go on to praise the Rockets for the way they rebuilt the team on the fly.

    "I take my hat off to a great organization," Johnson said. "(general manager) Carroll Dawson, Jeff Van Gundy, they've done a phenomenal job. They acquired the right players. They would not have been in this spot had they not acquired Jon Barry and Mike James.

    "They have just done a tremendous job with this team. It's just unfortunate that somebody had to lose. We're going to have a lot of battles throughout the years. They're one of the most prepared teams that I've seen all year."

    A few bad quarters
    While the Rockets will likely be haunted for a while by the most lopsided Game 7 loss ever in the NBA playoffs, they knew a case could be made that they hurt their cause more by failing to win earlier.

    "We were up 2-0 and in control of this series," guard Jon Barry said. "A couple bad fourth quarters at home in Games 3 and 4, and (we) end up losing the series. If we end up winning one of those games, we have great control and more than likely win.

    "Game 3, eight-point fourth quarter lead, and (with a win) you're up three-zip. Losing four in a row is not very likely."
  2. Aceshigh7

    Aceshigh7 Contributing Member

    Jun 16, 2003
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    Just read the article on the Chronicle website. In the roster status update it said Weatherspoon is due to get paid $6.535M next year and Yao will be making $5.954M.

    That is an abomination. Spoon doesn't deserve to be making even 1 million. The fact that were paying this scrub more than our star player and future of our franchise is just fugged up.
  3. ClutchCityReturns

    ClutchCityReturns Contributing Member

    Apr 26, 2005
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    I wish the following names would never be mentioned again in regards to who the Rockets are looking to sign:

    Damon Stoudamire
    Latrell Sprewell

    Among other reasons, I'll cite the fact that they will be 32 and 35 years old respectively by the time they ever stepped foot on an NBA court in a Rocket jersey. With all the concern about age, I think that in and of itself says enough.
  4. TTRocket

    TTRocket Contributing Member

    Apr 26, 2005
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    I completely agree...sprewell especially is washed up and probably a bad locker room influence as well...if sprewell had been halfway decent this yr. the Twolves would have made the playoffs
  5. BigM

    BigM Contributing Member

    Jul 1, 2001
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    you know we didn't give weatherspoon that contract, right? you also know that yao ming is still in his slotted rookie deal, right? you're making something out of nothing.

    after next season weatherspoon will either retire or sign for the vet min somewhere and yao will be maxed out. everything works out.
  6. Aceshigh7

    Aceshigh7 Contributing Member

    Jun 16, 2003
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    Um, and you know we are paying that ridiculous contract don't you?

    No, I am not making something out of nothing. We got his bloated contract in exchange for Moochie's bloated contract. Now we've got Moochie back. Somewhere along the line you have got to stop giving scubs outrageous contracts.

    Bottom line is, the Rockets are paying a useless player half a million more than they are paying their 2nd best player.

    For the money Weatherspoon is getting we could have a decent starting PF or PG. Someone that could help the team.
    #6 Aceshigh7, May 9, 2005
    Last edited: May 9, 2005
  7. TBar

    TBar Contributing Member

    Aug 6, 2001
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    I was also disappointed at the money / resources we spent on power forward this last season, but we can get rid of Spoon's bad contract at the trade deadline, may not be able to deal away Vin's contract with player option for 2006/ 2007 season, and may can get rid of Mochie's contract at trade deadline next Feb. I think Mooch is getting paid 3.5 to 4.0 mil per season. At least he is not making Mo Taylor or Spoon money.

    Hell man - at least we are not paying a lame Glen Rice 9 mil per season still.

    I think we are stuck with Charlie Ward for at least next season, but at least we are not breaking the bank paying him 2 mil plus. Like if my mother in law drove my new car off the cliff- mixed emotions - I can get another car.

    All we need is next season and the next to get rid of the last of these bad contracts that for the most part Van Gundy inherited- he did not create....

    Go JVG and CD
  8. swilkins

    swilkins Contributing Member

    Mar 5, 2003
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    This proves once again that Feigen gets his material from this site, because he doesn't have any other sources.:rolleyes:
  9. TBar

    TBar Contributing Member

    Aug 6, 2001
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    Almost forgot- I think Spree would be a cancer in the locker room- he did damage at Minn. He is a broke down player now and at 35 will not have much left. We cannot afford to "feed his family".

    Stoudemire is streaky and gifted, but has problems with getting in trouble with the herb. I do not think he is a rocket Scientist- wrapping his weed in aluminum foil to get it past the X-ray machines at the airport. I do not want this guy- he will ask for a lot of money.... Good weed is very expensive...
  10. rvpals

    rvpals Member

    Dec 14, 2002
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    Yeah, we are gonna be the oldest team in NBA forever if we keep getting older guys.
  11. Man

    Man Contributing Member

    Oct 3, 2003
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    We need youth.

    E-mail CD and say we should build a team for the future.

    Badiane is quite young so yeah.

    Spanoulis hopefully ready!

    And the draft looks pretty good..a lot of what we need..SF/SG/PF
  12. Cesar^Geronimo

    Nov 5, 2003
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    at this point -- I may have opions but I'm trusting the player moves about to be made.

    If someone told me last year that Jon Barry, Bobby Sura, David Wesley, Dikembe Motumbo would make such a big difference on our team -- I would have laughed.

    Whatever moves they make I'm just going to take the stand "I believe"
  13. rhadamanthus

    rhadamanthus Contributing Member

    Nov 20, 2002
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    Are you kidding!??!??!

    No wannabe-thug morons thankyou.
  14. Nautic

    Nautic Member

    Nov 26, 2002
    Likes Received:
    "Many times, there are agendas outside the realm of playing well...." JVG

    Is he talking about other teams?

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