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[Chron] Backup center angles for more playing time with Rockets

Discussion in 'Houston Rockets: Game Action & Roster Moves' started by GRENDEL, Feb 28, 2007.


    GRENDEL Contributing Member

    Nov 21, 2002
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    Backup aches for playing time
    Tsakalidis' stint against Hawks hurts so good

    Copyright 2007 Houston Chronicle

    With the court at Atlanta's Philips Arena occupied by Yao Ming's pregame workout, Jake Tsakalidis slumped on the bench, happy for a few minutes to do nothing but watch.

    After a few minutes at blessed ease, he thought it could get better. His muscles sore and aching, he turned to Rockets strength and conditioning coach Dave Macha and asked if he could schedule a massage.

    "I'm not used to this," said Tsakalidis, who after several months of doing little in Memphis had experienced the Rockets' conditioning demands for 10 days. "I'm sore."

    Tsakalidis got his massage the next day in Orlando, played a day later against the Magic, and by Monday played more effectively than he had in months. Acquired for rarely used Scott Padgett on Feb. 13, largely for emergency center depth and insurance until Yao returns, Tsakalidis seems to have played his way into the rotation, an upset nearly as unexpected as the Rockets' loss to the Celtics on Monday.

    "I think he's done well, very well," Rockets coach Jeff Van Gundy said. "I think he's been active and aggressive. He's learned quickly. He's done a good job."

    Rebounding high

    Tsakalidis had a season-high 10 rebounds in 22 minutes Monday. Though he was not impressed, it was a breakthrough.

    Tsakalidis had not played a total of 22 minutes in the previous 25 games with the Grizzlies and Rockets combined. His 10 rebounds were as many as in his previous 33 games with the Grizzlies and Rockets.

    He had played as much in just four games all season. He had been so far removed from playing that after he was dealt to the Rockets, he had to borrow Yao's shoes, at least one size too large, because Nike did not send shoes in Rockets colors as required by NBA rules.

    "They didn't know I was traded," Tsakalidis said.

    Then Dikembe Mutombo got two early fouls, and Van Gundy, who had been using Chuck Hayes as his backup center since Yao's injury, summoned Tsakalidis.

    "It was good to play, but it wasn't a good game," Tsakalidis said. "I was happy to play, of course. I feel I played good, but I felt tired. I'm not in game shape. I have not played in a while. It's kind of tough for me."

    It was not the most he has played, but it was the most he had played since Dec. 8, and he scored seven points. And he seems to have adjusted to his defensive responsibilities.

    "I think it speaks to him, his diligence, and also (being) well-coached in the past so he has a good understanding of NBA basketball," Van Gundy said. "He's a good, quick learner."

    The Rockets sought Tsakalidis in part because of his ability to quickly learn their schemes, though at 7-2, 290 pounds, his size probably had something to do with it.

    Asked what he can contribute, Tsakalidis said: "Be big, play defense, grab rebounds and score when I can. I'm big. I'm 7 foot, so I'm supposed to get rebounds. I'm still learning. I'm still learning my teammates."

    Matter of time

    The adjustment seems to have been rapid. It is less certain if he will stay in the same place in the rotation or if that will depend on matchups. And when Yao returns, Tsakalidis likely will move one spot further from the court.

    But he said the transition has not been difficult.

    "It's really just different," Tsakalidis said.


  2. DaDakota

    DaDakota 95er
    Supporting Member

    Mar 14, 1999
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    If he is resigned he would be a good primarty backup for Yao next year.

  3. Jacquescas

    Jacquescas Contributing Member

    Jul 18, 2005
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    with mutombo
  4. Xerobull

    Xerobull You son of a b!tch! I'm in!
    Supporting Member

    Jun 18, 2003
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    Jake has more upside than people see. Good pickup.
  5. hotballa

    hotballa Contributing Member

    Dec 27, 2002
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    Jake's looked pretty good. I don't think he'l get much PT when Yao's back and definetely not in the playoffs. But I htink he fits here long term as the backup.
  6. RikQuik

    RikQuik Member

    Nov 10, 1999
    Likes Received:
    I can remember when the Suns were touting him as their next great Center. Sadly, along comes Amare, and the guy becomes an after thought.

    He averages a rebound every 4 minutes, and a point every 3, half an assist per game, and almost a block per game. Numbers wise, the guy is almost identical in every phase to Kelvin Cato in his prime.

    More importantly, the guy appears to be humble. He's been around long enough to know that you have to take the opprotunities and run with them, and that considering yourself the "best whatever in the league I was in" doesn't mean crap int he NBA. Maybe some of that will wear off on Billy-Bob.

    While he's not as important of a pick up as Battier (who is Mario Elie to a tee), but a very important piece as a back-up center. He could very well be a difference maker if we have to play the Spurs in the playoffs.
  7. OddsOn

    OddsOn Contributing Member

    Aug 12, 2003
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    Kelving Cato had a prime? :eek: :confused:
  8. Williamson

    Supporting Member Supporting Member

    Dec 6, 2002
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    Watching Big Jake play was one of the very few to watch that Celtics game. He looked great.
  9. No Chance

    No Chance Contributing Member

    Jun 22, 2000
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    I hope the rockets can re-up him for next year. Will we have his bird rights.
    After going through the Rockets spring training & conditioning he should be a tad better next year.
  10. solid

    solid Contributing Member

    Apr 10, 2001
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    He looks like a pleasant surprise. Mutombo can't go on forever. Perhaps he is the backup center of the future.
  11. Dukerocket

    Dukerocket Member

    Nov 7, 2006
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    I didn't get to catch the Celtics game, but I'm pleased to hear he did well.

    Anyone else find it kind of funny the way he under-values himself?
    "be big" is one of the first things out of his mouth when asked about what he can contribute. While true, it just seems odd that in the age of Mike James/Vspan/Dampier all touting themselves as under-utilized potential stars, Tsak seems to have a much more humble and expectation free way of going about his job.

    Anyway, just the impression I got, I'd love if he could give us what Cato did a few years ago for Yao
  12. The_Yoyo

    The_Yoyo Contributing Member

    Dec 25, 2001
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    anyone know what his contract is like? is it an expiring contract or a player/team option contract or does he still have a year or two left on it?

    the guy played well in his limited minutes granted it was against a bad team (though we played even worse) it was still good to see. the guy needs to get into shape which is understandable since he never played in memphis, but the guy showed some good strides to show he can be a serviceable backup. It was just one game but if he can get into shape and play at that level (not necessarily same stats) i think he could be a great little pickup for the rockets.

    the stuff jvg said about him is encouraging it looked like jvg was part of getting him here. deke may only play another year so we need to find someone to backup yao. when deke goes out its scary how small we become.
  13. ClutchCityReturns

    ClutchCityReturns Contributing Member

    Apr 26, 2005
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    2.9 mil and he's gone in the summer. No options.
    #13 ClutchCityReturns, Feb 28, 2007
    Last edited: Feb 28, 2007
  14. JaWindex

    JaWindex Contributing Member

    Jan 21, 2005
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    Huh, I did not know about that requirement.

    I like his size and he seems to be a good rebounder. I guess we found our future back up for Yao?
  15. waelhakmeh

    waelhakmeh Member

    Jul 12, 2002
    Likes Received:
    a couple of preseason games before signing that fat contract :rolleyes:

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