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  2. It's officially NBA Draft Week! Dave Hardisty and David Weiner discuss the options before the Houston Rockets as they approach the June 26th NBA Draft, holding the #3 pick and the #44 pick. Is it really down to Donovan Clingan and Reed Sheppard? The pair also discuss trade-down possibilities and whether Devin Carter could be intriguing to Ime Udoka. And are the Rockets a darkhorse for a Paul George trade?

Chron NBA Notebook (insight to Bonzi and Rooks)

Discussion in 'Houston Rockets: Game Action & Roster Moves' started by Shawndme7, Nov 19, 2006.

  1. Shawndme7

    Shawndme7 Contributing Member

    Jun 16, 2002
    Likes Received:
    at least some


    Nov. 19, 2006, 12:04AM
    Rockets want Wells to concentrate on training
    New addition eager to play but isn't in game shape


    A few weeks ago when Bonzi Wells thought he was a few days from taking his place in the Rockets' rotation, he said it would take time to be his best.

    "I'm not going to come in and change the world," Wells said when asked about the excitement that came with his addition to the roster. "It's going to take me some time to get a good feel for playing with my teammates, get in the game atmosphere, get my legs up under me. I'm going to be a work in progress. I plan on struggling a bit at first. Hopefully, I'll smooth it out as time goes on."

    Since then, it has seemed to go on and on and on.

    But while Wells' situation has caused a great deal of confusion and even more consternation, it is not complicated.

    Look at it this way: By not playing, Wells doesn't have to save his legs for that night's jump shots. He can (theoretically) go all out in workouts, really push it and be in good shape after two or three weeks of intense (again, we assume) training.

    The Rockets played him in the second and third games of the season and saw a fraction of the usual Bonzi Wells, especially in his second game when the mind was willing but the body was not.

    With that, coach Jeff Van Gundy changed his mind and decided to make Wells inactive and have him concentrate on conditioning, likely with goals to meet — body fat, weight and/or performance — before he returns to the court.

    On game days, Wells works with strength coaches, no longer preparing with the team, as has been the common practice under Van Gundy. He and other rehabilitating players rarely travel, so Wells has been nowhere to be found by television cameras during games, inspiring more conjecture.

    Wells cannot be loving it, as his conversation might have indicated. When asked on his first night back on the inactive list what he needed to do to regain his usual form, Wells said, "Play."

    To a degree, NBA players generally get and stay in shape playing basketball. And eventually, Wells will need to play his way into basketball shape. But first, the Rockets chose to give up a few weeks to get him close.

    The Rockets were aware Wells was out of shape when they signed him, knowing his groin injury and free-agency limbo kept him off the court through the summer. For $2.1 million for this season, the Rockets were happy to sign Wells.

    The Rockets were not about to argue when the town got a little nutty over their good fortune, but they knew his impact would not be immediate.

    So they wait. Wells does his Lance Armstrong bit on the bicycles. And with every loss, and even the close wins, the screams for his arrival grow.

    The blame game

    Of all the hoops clichés, "He makes his teammates better" needs to be dumped — and now.

    Basically, it means a guy "creates scoring opportunities for teammates and passes to them," which are good things to do. But it is used in a negative way to say a star player isn't all that good for failing to "make his teammates better" without actually bringing any facts.

    It was the cliché used to criticize Michael Jordan in the 1980s, which is reason enough that it should be forever banned. But TNT's Kenny Smith offered the latest example when he said the Rockets' Yao Ming isn't a "great" player because he is not making Tracy McGrady better.

    Those missed open jumpers, the 64 percent free-throw shooting, the back injury last season. They are pretty much all Yao's fault.
    Experience wanted
    With so much talk in Houston about playing rookies and other NBA tykes, the Celtics (Rockets assistant general manager Daryl Morey's former team) are certain they are playing too many. The Celtics would love to move a few of their young talents for a solid veteran.

    "I don't let them know that," Celtics coach Doc Rivers said. "I don't talk about it ever. I talk about winning now.

    "I really hope they don't know. I just want them to play the game that's in front of them. I keep telling them the cavalry's not coming. I tell them that all the time. There's no cavalry coming. And I want them to believe that. But you know how it is."

    Youth movement sought
    Then again, if you are not winning, it had better be because you are going with the young fliers. At least that way, the highlights will be good.

    With Pau Gasol out and Eddie Jones limping, the Grizzlies have a 1-8 record, and Mike Fratello has been blamed for not giving his youngsters — Hakim Warrick, Lawrence Roberts, Rudy Gay and Kyle Lowry — enough playing time and enough chances to act like a sprint-relay team.

    "We're just not moving the ball up the floor," owner (for now) Michael Heisley told the Memphis Commercial-Appeal. "We should move the ball more and fast break. I'm not giving that as an instruction. I'm talking as a fan."

    Fratello is in the last year of his contract, but Heisley, who is in the process of selling the team, said any decisions will be left to general manager Jerry West.

    "The criticism of Mike now is because we're not doing well. But the guy that has to be pleased with Mike is Jerry West, not Mike Heisley," Heisley said. "Jerry's picking the players and the coaches. Period."

    Fratello said he is playing the kids (he is) and that they are trying to run more. But he knows he will be judged by wins and losses, and there won't be many wins in the West while trying to replace sure-thing veterans like Gasol, Lorenzen Wright and Shane Battier.

    It's looking as if might take the losses for someone else to get the kids when they grow up.

    "I'm trying to comply," Fratello said. "I want to do what we said — what's best for the organization going forward."

    Getting along better
    With Brad Miller sidelined, the Kings have gone with Shareef Abdur-Rahim at center next to Kenny Thomas, a mix that seems to be working in part because of an apparent truce between Abdur-Rahim and Thomas.

    When Abdur-Rahim was in Atlanta, the power forward fought Thomas when he was with the Rockets. They also
    had a shouting match last April and another fight in training camp.

    When asked about the "feud," Thomas said: "Next question."

    "It never started," he said. "It never started again. Next question."

    Abdur-Rahim offered a bit more.

    "I think it's probably more overblown, if you ask me," Abdur-Rahim told the Sacramento Bee. "From the outside looking in, I could see what it is they would think it could be. But I don't have anything personally against him, and I don't think he has anything personally against me. I can understand it, with the history and the situation as far as us playing the same position. But nothing really happened that would make us personally not like each other. We're cool."

    No longer a go-to guy
    While the Kings are happy with their current power forwards, their former power forward, Chris Webber, has been anything but with his new role.

    Webber has been held out of the fourth quarter of three 76ers games, playing part time in others. When coach Maurice Cheeks has, like many coaches, gone with one big man, Webber has been small for some centers and not quick enough defensively when taken out of the paint.

    "(It is) something that I don't think a player like me should adjust to," Webber said. "It's things I've never had to deal with before, not being a main part of what's going on.

    "So that's what I have to get used to. I think to adjust would (make me) become complacent and accept a role that I don't want to accept."

    Webber, who has met with team president Billy King and Cheeks, is playing just 29.3 minutes per game, making 38.4 percent of his shots. He is averaging 10 points, less than half of last season's 20.2.

    Believer from afar
    Alonzo Mourning forced his way out of New Jersey when he decided the Nets were not committed to winning a championship.

    Mourning was dealt to Toronto, which let him return to Miami, and he got his ring. But now he thinks the Nets look like a contender after all. (He won't be returning.)

    "We feel from a personnel standpoint they have the capabilities of winning big," Mourning said. "They've gotten better, I feel."

    Quote to note
    Nearly a week after NBA executive vice president of basketball operations Stu Jackson called Bruce Bowen at home to tell him he needed to make sure shooters had room to land or he would face a possible fine or suspension, Spurs coach Gregg Popovich was less than thrilled with the league, as he sees it, "trying to change the way my best defender plays."

    Popovich said the league reaction "was fueled by media pressure and player complaints." He then offered this week's top quote.

    "The league is just trying to cover its (backside)," Popovich told the San Antonio Express-News on Friday. "I told Bruce, 'You be Bruce Bowen. You're the best ... defender in this league. You will not change the way you play defense.' Stu Jackson is not going to change my team just because he thinks he's doing the right thing."


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