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Archive for the tag “Houston Rockets”

Return To Sender

(photo courtesy of David Zalubowski/AP)

(photo courtesy of David Zalubowski/AP)

It was the chance for a fresh start and a new city. Donatas Motiejunas, Macus Thornton and Joel Anthony were getting ready to play for their new teams (Joel Anthony was traded to the Sixers with a second round pick after he was traded to the Rockets). It was going to be interesting to see how each piece fit where they ended up. But unfortunately, all three of these players will be returning to their former teams. The trade that was going to further shape the Pistons fell through once Motiejunas was not able to pass a physical due to his continued recovery from back surgery. The 7’ power forward had back surgery this past offseason and has had multiple setbacks trying to recover. Needless to say, he has not been on the court much at all this season. And the likelihood is he will not see the court at all this year either.

Joel Anthony will be returning to a team that will have a chance to make the playoffs this year. The Pistons still made one solid trade in getting forward Tobias Harris and it will be interesting to see if they can integrate him into what they do. The result of that trade getting voided is that Anthony goes back to ninth in the Eastern Conference instead of the last place team in the NBA. But you have to wonder what he feels like going back to the Pistons. After all, he has to look in the face of the guy who tried to trade him for the rest of the season potentially. There has to be some uneasy tension there. Many will say that Anthony has to be professional about it, but privately he has to wonder why he has to stay somewhere that the coach/president of basketball operations does not want him. Whether he thinks that or not, Anthony really has survived in the NBA longer than many thought he would. And to be truthful, there were a ton of people that forgot he was in the NBA anymore. After he was no longer a member of the Miami Heat, it seemed like his career went into oblivion. But there he stands and there he is, still getting a game check from the Pistons each time he is there on the bench or in uniform. And for that, he has to be thankful.

As far as Motiejunas, he has to feel some sort of way. He is a productive player when he is healthy, but he was given up despite the potential he has. He is still very young and is a very skilled young big man. So he has to be keeping his focus on getting healthy for either the rest of the season or the offseason. After all, the cap is going up and someone will take a chance on him provided he can pass a physical the next time. But one thing he and Thornton have to go back to is something they probably dread. The feeling in that locker room has to be uncomfortable. With the firing of head coach Kevin McHale early in the season and the team’s stars reportedly both trying to get each other traded, that has to be something that feels more like a circus than a basketball team. In Detroit, at least the feeling there was that they were building something. Motiejunas and Thornton would have been very good pieces on a Pistons team that was going to look like the 2008-2009 Orlando Magic team. But alas, all that is now a dream that Thornton and Motiejunas will have to just imagine for now. They are stuck in Houston for right now. And they both probably realize that the toxic environment there could lead to an interesting offseason. An offseason that could end up with both of them gone anyway.

Anthony is probably the more relieved of the bunch. He gets to stay with a team that could be on the rise. While Motiejunas and Thornton go back to somewhere they would probably like to escape. And meanwhile, that protected 2016 1st round pick the Rockets received in this trade gets returned to its sender. The reshaping of the team in Houston fell flat on its face as the Rockets were not able to move anyone via trade at all. And the NBA’s greatest drama team will continue to go on like an episode of The Haves and Have Nots, with Howard and Harden as the leading actors.

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Dwight Howard To The Boston Celtics Makes Sense

(photo courtesy of www.sbnation.com)

(photo courtesy of http://www.sbnation.com)

Dwight Howard had a decision to make back in the summer of 2013. He was traded that previous year to the Los Angeles Lakers from Orlando that previous year and had one year to check it out. That one year was not very good for him out in Los Angeles. He was fighting through an injury the whole time he was there and when he played, it seemed like he was not himself. Mix that with the fact that he and Kobe’s styles did not mesh and it was not a good experiment bringing him in. But yet and still, the Lakers were one of the teams Dwight was looking at going into free agency. The Lakers gave their pitch to him along with other teams like Houston and Dallas. Between those teams, Dwight turned down additional money he would have made with the Lakers to join star shooting guard James Harden in Houston. The pairing was supposed to take Houston to another level with two star players leading the way. But unfortunately, it has not worked out the way Houston has wanted. The Rockets may have gone to the Conference Finals last season, but it was not due to Dwight Howard’s effect on the team. Howard was not as effective last season because he was injured for most of it and that allowed for other guys to step in and make Houston better. And in year three with Dwight in Houston, it seems like things have gotten worse. The Rockets are on the outside looking in of the playoff picture at this point and the chemistry and play of the team just seems to be off. And right in the middle of it is Dwight Howard still speaking on wanting to be more involved in regards to more touches offensively. Well, it seems like the Rockets have had enough of Howard at this point. Houston has reportedly put Howard on the trading block and are actively looking to move him. And being that he can opt out of the four-year, $87.5 million deal he signed in 2013, it will be interesting what they try to get for him. But nonetheless, it seems like one team’s name has been mentioned more than any in acquiring Howard: the Boston Celtics.

The Celtics were a surprise team to make the playoffs last year. And this season, they have made it to the third spot in the East as they are currently constructed. But even with that, Danny Ainge has his eye on Howard and what he could bring to his team. And with the assets the Celtics have, they could certainly pull this trade off. The Celtics have a glutton of big men available on their team. One player the Celtics could dangle out there to get Howard would be forward David. The Celtics traded for the veteran big man this offseason hoping that he would be able to add to their team. But unfortunately it has not worked out and he has been sitting on the bench more than actually playing. And with the pricetag he is carrying this season ($15.49 million), they can easily move him and not miss him at all. If the Celtics throw him, a first round pick and maybe another frontcourt player. By adding Howard to the Celtics, that gives them a better defender on the backline than what they currently have. And if you pair him with the likes of Kelly Olynyk and Jared Sullinger, he would not really have to worry much about the offensive end of the court. But knowing Dwight, he would want to have the basketball in his hands. Even at 30 years old, he still has not got it that he is not a go-to guy offensively. In Boston, he still would not be that guy that he envisions himself being. And if he ends up not being happy, then you essentially traded for a rental player because Howard has the option to opt out of his current deal. But the potential positives in this one outweigh the negatives in this potential trade scenario. But of course that all depends on the thinking of Dwight Howard whether it works or not.

The Celtics would be getting Howard and all that goes with him, but Houston would be getting rid of a player that was doing more harm than good for them. It seemed like the chemistry in Houston just was not ever going to work out, as Howard seemed like the odd man out a lot. The biggest piece in trading Howard is not actually David Lee, but who would be traded with him. If the Houston Rockets are lucky, they get someone that has an expired contract as well. Guys like Evan Turner and Jonas Jerebko would be ideal players to add in this trade just for their expiring contracts alone. If one of these two is added like Houston would want, that would allow for them to have enough salary cap room with their current situation to go after a big-name free agent. Everyone knows that Houston has had its eyes on Kevin Durant for some time now. And even as far-fetched as it seems, the Rockets would like to make a run at pairing James Harden with Kevin Durant going into next season. But even if that does not happen, the Rockets would love to change the dynamic of this team going into next season. This all falls in line with them needing a new head coach going into next year as well. If Houston loses and does not make the playoffs while making this trade, it actually will benefit them even more. That would give them two first-round picks (if they don’t make the playoffs, they get to keep their first round pick they would have had to give to Denver because of a previous trade) provided they get one from Boston and cap space. In the NBA, that is definitely a good thing to have as the cap space expands next season. Adding a piece like Atlanta’s Al Horford potentially in free agency and putting him at power forward alongside young big man Clint Capela would be something that would also help this team as well. Horford is a better fit with Harden because he is able to space the floor with his shooting and actually has solid post game. And on the defensive end, he can rebound and actually guard power forwards. That leave Capela playing center and just worrying about blocking shots and defending, which is what he needs to be doing at this point in his career. So the trade of Howard could essentially end the Rockets’ playoff push, but it will help set them up for the future with Harden as their unquestioned leader.

The Dwight Howard experiment in Houston has proven to be a failure at this point. The chemistry never was there between he and Harden and the team never really got to where Houston brass envisioned with Howard and Harden. So to rectify this one and get first round picks and create cap space would be huge for them going forward. For Dwight Howard, he has to realize that the clock is ticking and his opportunities for success are fleeting fast. But the big question will always be around Howard and his role on any team he is on. Everyone who knows anything about basketball realizes that he will not be a viable offensive threat but him. And until he realizes that and quits derailing chemistry, then he will continue to miss out on team success. Boston is taking a chance on Howard with this trade. But the good thing for them is they probably would not be trading much to get him and they also would think that he would want to opt out of his deal should it not work out. Stay tuned folks. Howard could be donning green and white soon.

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The General’s New Year’s Resolutions In Sports

(photo courtesy of Kelly L Cox/USA Today Sports)

(photo courtesy of Kelly L Cox/USA Today Sports)

A new year is upon us and like usual, there are many that have made New Year’s Resolutions. You see some of the usual ones that involve working out posted everywhere, but what if teams and professional athletes had resolutions and we all had access to them? No one knows if some of these professional athletes made some resolutions for the year, but if they were to make them, this is what they could have been. Without further ado, here are some New Year’s Resolutions the General has for some people, teams and players.

Chicago Bulls-Remember Who You Are

A lot was made of Jimmy Butler’s comments in regards to his coach, Fred Hoiberg, and him needing to coach them harder. But one other thing the star guard spoke about was the team needing to play harder like they have in previous seasons. And he could not have been more correct. The Bulls have no identity at all this season and the effort seems to not be there on both ends consistently. For them to even compete in the East, they need to get back to the basics. Of course there is a new coach there, but the same pieces remain. For their sake, they better hope some things get better soon for them.

Markieff Morris- More Patience and Composure

The talented forward for Phoenix has had an interesting season. He watched his twin brother get traded to Detroit this offseason and it has seemingly had an adverse effect on him. He wanted to leave and demonstrated so during the offseason but that cooled down once the season started. But even now, he has had temper tantrums like throwing a towel at the coach. And like any player that has issues with a coach, he has been in and out of the doghouse. One thing he may want to realize is he is not making himself look any better with these tantrums. Other teams are watching. And eventually the talent-trouble formula will not be in his favor. Get it together Mr. Morris. Of you could be calling it a career quicker than you want.

Los Angeles Lakers-Atone for your mistakes

The Los Angeles Lakers have been employing Byron Scott for almost three years now. And with this team as young as they are, it seems like Scott hasn’t got the memo to play the young players so they can get better. So since he seems to not get the memo, why not let him go now? Kobe is about to exit Byron. Lou Williams is not a starting point guard in the NBA. Larry Nance Jr is not a starter in the NBA. The Lakers’ brass needs to end this science experiment with Byron as head coach and do so as soon as possible.

Dwight Howard- Find out who you are

Dwight Howard has had the potential to be one of the best big men in the NBA for some time now. But he has never lived up to it. Instead, he has been known as an unhappy big man. Dwight has visions of himself being more involved in the offense in Houston just like he had in Los Angeles for his one year there. But in each situation, he has yet to realize that he is the not the focal point of his team. It was Kobe in LA and now it is Harden in Houston. He will not be the main weapon on this Houston team because he does not have a consistent offensive game. Maybe if he had that, he would have a gripe. But right now, Dwight may want to focus on just being a rebounder, dunker and defensive presence because that is what he is.

Cleveland Browns- Take control of your situation

The team seems to be in disarray yet again. There seems to be no direction there and the front office and management seem to be on two different pages. The talk has been that general manager Ray Farmer will be done after this last game. But with the Browns, you never know. This one reads like a soap opera, so maybe one day they will get some direction and move forward. But it all starts from ownership. Ownership here has never asserted itself and taken control of the situation. And this mess will continue if Haslam and company do not do so.

Detroit Lions- See things clearer

The Detroit Lions had a rough start to the season. They were 1-6 out of the gate and there were many disappointed fans of that team. But the team righted the ship and played well down the stretch after they fired their offensive coordinator and members of their front office. Some saw this optimism and have thought that it is time to give Jim Caldwell more time. Well, those that don’t want that better hope that does not happen. Detroit fans and ownership, don’t be fooled by the finish of that team up there. They still have a ton of issues there and keeping Caldwell is not going to help fix those issues at all.

Chip Kelly-Learn how to play well with others

Chip Kelly almost completed his third year of coaching the Philadelphia Eagles when the plug was pulled on him by the organization this week. Aside from some of the questionable moves he made as the general manager this season, it was his icy relationship with people around him that helped get him fired in Philly. He reportedly would not even speak to players in the building, often leaving them feeling uncomfortable. He more than likely will receive another shot at some point (at the college level or in the NFL). But in order for him to succeed, he has to learn to value the people around him. He apparently did not in Philly. If he is able to learn that along with other things, then he could be successful in his next go round.

San Francisco 49ers- Change your course

The team has had issues all season long. Of course most of those were linked to the departures of their head coach after the 2014 season and the loss of players to retirement. But even more than that, the team just seemed like it just could not get any form of consistency all year long. For them, the consistency needs to start with what direction they will be going in. This was obviously not what the 49ers expected and this was unacceptable in their eyes. The stability starts from the top and it will be interesting to see what they do to stabilize this team and get better.

Chicago Cubs-Seize the opportunity

The Chicago Cubs were a team that many expected to not be ready to achieve until the 2016 season. But they surprised everyone this past season and made it to the National League Championship Series. They lost the game, but they were ahead of schedule. And this offseason, they acquired a few pieces to help take them to the top. The thing that Cubs fans have been waiting on forever is a championship. And this year is their best chance to do it. The best thing for them to do is take advantage of this opportunity when it presents itself. If not, this chance could pass them by quickly.

Pete Rose and Major League Baseball-

Time and time again we hear about Pete Rose and whether or not he should be in the Hall Of Fame. Well, he was denied again and the argument ensued as to why he should or should not be in the Hall. Well, both sides need to come together and make this happen one way or the other. Rose has to come clean about everything and Major League Baseball has to value an all-time great before he passes away. At some point, Major League Baseball has to let him in. And while Major League Baseball is trying to take the moral ground, they may want to take a look at how they conveniently looked the other way during the Steriod era. I bet that would change some viewpoints there on all those taking that moral compass out involving Major League Baseball.

 

2015 has come to an end and 2016 is now upon us. And all of us have great dreams of making things happen in this new year. And some of us even made resolutions. Hopefully for these teams, players and people, they make some changes within themselves to make this year a great one for themselves.

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James Harden May Want To Slow His Roll With Khloe Kardashian

James Harden has stepped into the Kardashian picture. Is that what he really wants to do? (photo courtesy of www.abcnews.com)

James Harden has stepped into the Kardashian picture. Is that what he really wants to do? (photo courtesy of http://www.abcnews.com)

The Kardashians are everywhere. Ever since singer Ray J made the infamous sex tape with Kim Kardashian, the whole family has been on the television screen. But more than them being on the television screen, they have now infiltrated the entertainment and sports world. Kim is married to performer Kanye West. Some say that he is not the same guy he once was since he started a relationship with Kim. Of course, we know that Kanye was already eccentric before dating Kim anyway, so the jury is out on how much Kanye being with her has changed him. Another relationship that has garnered attention involving a Kardashian is that of rapper Tyga and one of the younger sisters of the Kardashians, Kylie Jenner. This relationship, which neither one has really confirmed, is one that has not done great things for Tyga’s public image at all. Tyga, 25, is eight years older than Kylie and essentially is dating her illegally because he could be turned in at any time. But yet they still go on with their secretive yet out in the open relationship. It seems like it there is a spotlight, there is a Kardashian somewhere around. And now we have the supposed relationship between Houston Rockets star James Harden and Khloe Kardashian. There seems to be varying reports of these two being together. In Tyga and Kanye’s cases, it does not seem like dating a Kardashian has turned out well for the way people see them now and if James Harden knows what is best for him, he will not get too involved in dating Khloe Kardashian. The Rockets and their fans are hoping he sees the light and distances himself as well.

This isn’t the first time we have seen Khloe get involved with a professional basketball player. Of course her first husband is Lamar Odom. And even though they have been separated for a good amount of time, they are newly divorced. When Lamar first came out as dating Khloe in August 2009, many wondered where the connection came from. But little did we know the connection would lead to a marriage one month later. Khloe and Lamar were married in August 2009 to the shock of a lot of people. But on the outward, everything was perceived as going great. Lamar would go on to play two solid seasons as a member of the Lakers once he was with Khloe. But in 2011, it seemed like the walls came tumbling down for him towards the end of his last season in Los Angeles. In April 2011, that is when Khloe and Lamar’s reality show debuted on television. Odom was named the Sixth Man of the Year in the 2010-2011 season and he thought he would be staying in Los Angeles. But what happened would change his career forever. He was traded to the then New Orleans Hornets only for the trade to be vetoed. That trade, which he heard publicly, was a huge blow to his ego and he felt disrespected and demanded a trade. He was traded to the Dallas Mavericks and from there his career essentially died. He was not the same player he was when he was playing for the Lakers and the end seemed to be near. Of course Khloe had nothing to do with what was going on when he was on the court, but it seemed like his career tanked more the longer he was with her. Now he is trying to get himself straightened out after reportedly being on drugs. There are reports that Khloe is still interested in him, but they are mostly rumors at this point.

Khloe was definitely around when Lamar started slipping, but she pales in comparison to her sister, Kim Kardashian. She was the one that first started the Kardashian train towards athletes. But Kim actually did it twice though. The first athlete she dated was veteran running back Reggie Bush. Bush was one of the most electric running backs in college football when he came out of the University of Southern California. When he was in the NFL, he started dating Kim around 2007 reportedly and the relationship ended in 2010. During that time, Reggie Bush was trying to get himself together in the NFL. The entire time he was in New Orleans, his production declined every single year. Instead of the electric running back the Saints thought they were getting, they received a running back that was electric but could not make plays consistently to stay on the field. After the end of the 2010 season, he was traded to the Miami Dolphins. Also in 2010, his relationship with Kim Kardashian ended. Apparently the end of that relationship did great things for Reggie. He has had two seasons over 1,000 yards and become more of the guy many thought he would be when he came out of college. It seemed like the pairing of he and Kim served as a distraction and when she was gone, his career got better. His personal life also blossomed as he met his current wife and they now have a child together. Kim would also move on. And this relationship was with another athlete, but this time he was an NBA player. Kris Humphries and Kim started dating in 2010 and were married in August 2011. But this was no ordinary marriage between these two. Kim and Kris were married on reality television in front of the entire world. It was a Hollywood marriage that many did not believe and those thoughts were further influenced by how quickly they were divorced. Kim Kardashian filed for divorce 72 days after the couple was married. Humphries filed a petition for annulment in response to Kim’s divorce filing claiming that the marriage was a fraud. The legal fight went on for both until April 2013, when the pair ended up reaching a divorce settlement. The divorce was finalized in July of that same year. As far as Kris, his career was going well when he was dating her the first year. And after the divorce was announced, he had the best season of his career, averaging 13 point and 11 rebounds. But after that, it was all downhill as he never averaged double-figures again and also is still joked some to this day for his marriage to Kim Kardashian. He is playing a support role for the Washington Wizards now, but this was probably not where he thought he would be at this time.

Kim and Khloe may have good intentions, but the men they have relationships with ultimately end up having career problems at some point. Kanye West has not had them so far, but they may be coming down the line. So if the past of both of these two women is any indication, James Harden needs to stay as far away from Khloe Kardashian as possible. The success train does not follow for the men beside the Kardashian women. The fans of the Rockets are hoping the rumors of Khloe being interested in going back to Lamar Odom are real. Because that would free up their best player to focus on the team and not focus on the Kardashians and what is going on over there in their world. The Kiss Of The Kardashian can be a seductive one, especially with how they look. But it can also be a fatal one for your career potentially. You may want to proceed with caution James Harden. Your career could be riding on it.

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The Houston Rockets Roll The Dice By Acquiring Ty Lawson

Ty Lawson is headed from Denver to Houston. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum, File)

Ty Lawson is headed from Denver to Houston. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum, File)

Ty Lawson was once considered one of the top point guards coming up in the NBA. But after a few years of team struggles in Denver along with his own personal struggles, the stock of Lawson has gone down. And with his recent DUI arrest along with the drafting of point guard Emmanuel Mudiay, the writing was on the wall as to what would happen with him. The only question out there was if he would be traded or waived from his contract with the Nuggets. Well, it may have took a little time, but it looks like Lawson is headed to his next team. The Houston Rockets have apparently agreed to trade for the recently troubled point guard in exchange for point guard Pablo Prigioni, young guard Nick Johnson, forward Kostas Papanikolaou, big man Joey Dorsey and a future lotter-protected 1st round pick in 2016. And with this trade, the landscape in the West makes another shift. The Rockets wanted to make a splash this offseason and had seemingly missed their chance. With this trade, it may not have been a splash but they certainly made a ripple.

Lawson is a point guard that has always been known for his speed on the court. In fact, at one point he was considered one of the fastest point guards in the NBA. He still is a speedy guy on the court, but it seems to not have helped anything going on with the Nuggets. When the Nuggets signed him to an extension that kicked in the 2013-2014 season, Denver thought they were signing their future leader of their team to a long-term deal. For whatever reason, that did not work out for him in Denver and he was not the leader they expected. In fact, the Nuggets looked leaderless. Heading to Houston, leadership will not be something that he has to be involved with. The team is led by MVP-candidate James Harden. The only thing Lawson has to do is come in and be a playmaker for the Rockets while continuing to push the tempo. Too many times, the Rockets depended on Harden to do any and everything for them offensively. He would not only shoot the ball, but set up teammates for easy shots. The only other playmaker on the team last season was Josh Smith and that wasn’t exactly the most consistent. Lawson is quick as a hiccup and can shoot the gaps offensively. If he is able to do that in Houston, the Rockets will be getting wide-open shots a lot. And if the Rockets are hitting from deep, it could be trouble for any team. But not only can he get in the paint to kick out to shooters, but he can also make life a little better for Dwight Howard. The penetration by Lawson will allow Dwight to get lob passes at the rim. And with him getting those touches there and maybe a few more touches off the pick-and –roll, Howard will have an effect on the offensive end whereas sometimes he was just a guy out there on the offensive end last season.

Lawson will definitely be a welcomed sight for Harden, who has reportedly said he wanted another player in Houston. But the best thing that can happen for the Rockets is he can come in and start for them. Entering last season, the point guard position was anchored by Patrick Beverley. He was a feisty defender and was a good shooter from three-point range. And with him, the Rockets were playing very well. But unfortunately, he did not make it through the season, as he suffered a wrist injury that would put him down for a while. Replacing him were veteran point guards Pablo Prigioni and Jason Terry. Both played valiantly and made some things happen, but there was no doubt that neither were the answer at point guard. The addition of Lawson gives Houston the best point guard they have had there the entire time that Harden has been a Rocket. And with his addition, that means that Beverly comes in off the bench now. The team thought enough of him to sign him back to a four-year, $25 million deal this offseason. And with Lawson now in the fold, Beverley has now become one of the best backup point guards in the NBA. For a team that was having so many issues at that position when Beverley went down last season, they seemingly have a solid balance at point guard. And when Beverley comes in off the bench, he can bring that energy to sustain the team that is on the court.

All seems to be great in the eyes of the Rockets because the Rockets essentially got Lawson for nothing. And in the eyes of some, it seems he is now joining a contending team. Houston should content for the West this season, but the key ingredient is definitely Lawson. He is currently serving 30 days in a rehab center after his latest DUI arrest. The Rockets are hoping that Lawson comes out of rehab focused and ready to play some basketball. If he does, he gives them the jolt they needed offensively. And on the defensive end, he is still a guy that can cause some issues when he isn’t getting posted up. But if Lawson messes up again, it could be the end of him in Denver. It would be a shame if they happened to him, but if it did he would have earned the decision. The onus is on Lawson and what he feels he can do for the Rockets. The good thing for Houston is they did not have to give up much for his services and have a great backup in Beverley. Houston is taking a chance on Lawson getting it together. The jury is still out on what he will do, but if he is the Ty Lawson of old, then the Rockets will be able to make it happen.

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The Best And Worst Fits For LaMarcus Aldridge’s Services

It's decision time for LaMarcus Aldridge. (Photo courtesy of Jennifer Stewart/US PRESSWIRE)

It’s decision time for LaMarcus Aldridge. (Photo courtesy of Jennifer Stewart/US PRESSWIRE)

There are many free agents out there that have some decisions to make. Some, like Marc Gasol of the Memphis Grizzlies, are only taking meetings with the team he has played for in the NBA and no one else. While others have decided to open up the field and take meetings from everyone. There are some enticing names out there, but one that rings a bell for many is Portland Trailblazers forward LaMarcus Aldridge. Last offseason, the Portland Trailblazers tried to lock up the talented forward to an extension. And although it was believed by many that he would stay there and sign a more lucrative extension with Portland this offseason, there was some speculation as to him potentially leaving Portland this summer. This belief came to fruition a little bit more when Aldridge opened up his recruitment this summer as of the last few weeks. There are as many as seven teams that are reportedly interested in him and want to add him to their rosters. Aldridge, although he has not really won a lot in the playoffs, is a big man that many consider dominant and that can change a team’s fortunes just with a signature. And expectedly, he is the most coveted free agent out there (subtracting LeBron James from this one because we know he isn’t leaving Cleveland again). But where would be the best fit for him?

The list of teams interested in Aldridge are the New York Knicks, the Toronto Raptors, the Los Angeles Lakers, the Dallas Mavericks, the Houston Rockets, the San Antonio Spurs and the Phoenix Suns. Looking that list of teams, there are a couple that stand out in regards to his talents. If you have taken a look at Aldridge’s game, it is very versatile in terms of his range. The 6’11” power forward can post very well when he wants to. He can face you up and take the jump shot as well as drive the middle of the lane or the baseline to attack the rim. But what makes Aldridge even more special is his ability to stretch the defense for a man his size. He can shoot all the way out to the three-point line and he can also be a good pick-and-pop big with as well as he shoots the jumper. At times he can get too comfortable shooting the jump shot, but he is effective with it nonetheless. The team that would obviously benefit from having him the most is the San Antonio Spurs. Tim Duncan is not getting any younger and with Kawhi Leonard getting ready to accept a big extension from the Spurs, San Antonio needs another piece to go along with him. By adding Aldridge, that helps stabilize the team down low once Duncan decides to hang it up. In essence, you would be replacing Duncan with a player that is very similar to him but more athletic. Add him to what they have coming back next year reportedly (Duncan and Manu Ginobli are reportedly coming back on cheaper salaries to help the team) and this team could be hoisting the trophy again in 2016 with Aldridge. And the good thing about the Spurs is that they can pay Aldridge as much as they want due to the sacrifices of Duncan and Ginobli. At this point in their careers, they know they are playing more for rings than salaries. And for Duncan, that can help them potentially get one more before riding off into the sunset. For Aldridge, it would help him add a crowning achievement to his career and also help the Spurs bridge the gap successfully into the next era of San Antonio basketball. Imagine the motion offense they run with Aldridge and Kawhi being the main options. But for the here and now, Aldridge and Duncan would remind many of the original Twin Towers that San Antonio had when they won it the first time with a young Tim Duncan and a veteran David Robinson. Amazing how things can change over time as Duncan would be the veteran in this scenario.

The Spurs would be an excellent fit for Aldridge and he could very well land there. But like there is a best fit for Aldridge, there is one fit that would be the worst for him. The Houston Rockets and Dallas Mavericks are clamoring for the services of Aldridge. Both are looking at him as the missing piece to what they want to accomplish. But in reality, both teams are a tie for the worst fit for his services. In Dallas, the team there is a jump-shooting team for the most part. And even though Aldridge can shoot the jump shot, he would basically be asked to be the post presence for that team. That is fine and dandy on the offensive end of the court, but on the defensive end that would be trouble. Imagine Aldridge having to be the rim protector for the Mavericks. Even though Chandler is older, he is still far and away a better rim protector than Aldridge will ever be. The only way the addition of Aldridge could work is if the Mavericks can send Dirk to the bench and allow Aldridge to start with a guy like Chandler as the center alongside him. But the reality of that happening is slim to none and even if it did, the Mavericks still would not have enough in the West to win a title. As far as Houston, they seemed to be run by James Harden. And that can be a good thing and a bad thing. Harden is a playmaker on the offensive end of the court and a lot of the offense runs through his hands. But Harden has said that he would like for Houston to bring another playmaker in besides him next season. Looking at the Houston Rockets as they are (when healthy), there are devoid of another playmaker and need one sorely to take the load off Harden a little bit more. In the draft, they had the opportunity to add a playmaker and chose to add Sam Dekker instead. So with the addition of Aldridge, that would not address the need they had. Dwight Howard occupies the post and that would take away from the touches Aldridge would have in there. And as far as him pairing with Harden, he would become exclusively a pick-and-pop guy, and that would not be what the Rockets needed. Ironically, Josh Smith actually fits this team better than Aldridge because he has the ability to be a playmaker, although he is inconsistent at times. Aldridge going there would not make this team any more dangerous unless they got rid of Dwight Howard or he found a jumpshot, two things that are not likely to happen anytime soon.

Of course there are four other teams that fit in this scenario and the Lakers are reportedly the leading candidate for his services. The fit there would be nice, but with the fluidity of the situation there in regards to the potential trade for Sacramento’s DeMarcus Cousins, there is no telling what kind of team will be there. If they get Cousins, the team would be tough provided Kobe can stay healthy this season. If they don’t trade for Cousins, then he could potentially have to play center and that would not be a good thing defensively at all. In the end, Aldridge will get paid one way or the other. The decision is his ultimately, but if he is seriously thinking about getting a ring along with getting paid, San Antonio is the spot where he needs to go. They have the best coach, system and scenario for him to succeed immediately.

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A Closer Look At Jeff Van Gundy Potentially Coaching The New Orleans Pelicans

Jeff Van Gundy is on the list of coaches New Orleans is looking at to coach. So, what would he look like as the Pelicans coach? (photo courtesy of www.lakernation.com)

Jeff Van Gundy is on the list of coaches New Orleans is looking at to coach. So, what would he look like as the Pelicans coach? (photo courtesy of http://www.lakernation.com)

The New Orleans Pelicans are looking for a new head coach in the wake of their surprise firing of head coach Monty Williams. Many figured that he would get a chance to compete next season with a healthy roster coming off a playoff appearance. But that was not what New Orleans had in mind. The search for a new head coach has had a few interesting names mentioned. One of the most mentioned names out there has been former Chicago Bulls head coach Tom Thibodeau. The recently fired head man in Chicago and the front office have been at odds for a while now and their divorce was finally announced on Thursday. He will get an interview there in New Orleans if he wants one, but he is not the only coach they are checking out at this time. And with the draft quickly approaching, the Pelicans have to make a decision on a new head coach. With that in mind, the Pelicans have looked everywhere for the next head coach of their organization. Their search has led them to the broadcast booth to potentially bring in their new head coach. Former Rockets and Knicks head coach Jeff Van Gundy reportedly met with the Pelicans brass in regards to their head coaching position. Van Gundy is seemingly so intrigued by the idea of coaching budding superstar Anthony Davis that he is considering ending his hiatus from coaching. But what can you expect from Van Gundy should he step back into the coaching arena?

The New Orleans Pelicans are a young team with talent everywhere. But this season they had some health issues and that led to an inconsistent performance from them all season. But they were able to pull it together enough and get to the playoffs. While in the playoffs, the Pelicans had one of their glaring weaknesses exposed. The Warriors were going to the basket at will against the Pelicans, even with the presence of shot-blocker Anthony Davis. And as a result, the Warriors dispatched of the Pelicans rather easily in four games. Going forward, the Pelicans have to be tougher in the paint. They were one of the worst paint defending teams in the NBA and Van Gundy could be the perfect guy to change that for them. Throughout his coaching career, Van Gundy has had stout defenses. When he was in New York, he had a veteran team that was tough and physical. And with that team he made them a factor in the Eastern Conference virtual every year he was there. And when he went to Houston, he made them a tough team and also a team that could compete in the West. But unfortunately for him, injuries, mainly to Yao Ming, caused them to not achieve the heights they could have achieved. From Patrick Ewing to Yao Ming, Van Gundy always had a cornerstone inside that was able to be the backbone of his defense. And although Anthony Davis is not a center, he could definitely be the cornerstone of that defense. With New Orleans, Van Gundy would have a team that is as athletic as he has had, but also as inexperienced as he has had also. But the thing he would also have is a team that is younger than he had in New York and Houston that could run on teams as opposed to grinding it out on the offensive end. The possibilities of what Van Gundy could bring to this team would be endless on the defensive end and that could make this team a perennial playoff participant.

Van Gundy has had success everywhere he has been, but there has always been one criticism he has always had. The teams he had were always competitive and in every game, but the offenses he trotted out there were very hard on the eyes. Who can forget the grind-it-out teams he had in New York all those years? With those teams, it always seemed he could not squeak out 85-90 points consistently. And in the end, the lack of offense always ended up being the downfall of his teams. Not only was the lack of offense the biggest downfall of him, it was the biggest criticism that fans of his teams always had. With the Pelicans considering bringing him in, that could be something they have to look forward to. New Orleans already is an offense that has some issues as we saw in the playoffs. They didn’t know what to do down the stretch of games to win and they had some horrible possessions. By bringing in Van Gundy, it would almost guarantee their offense would lose what little bit of creativity that it had under former coach Monty Williams. New Orleans would be better defensively, but the offense would make the fans of the Pelicans boo uncontrollably and cry for offense. If Van Gundy is to be hired and bring in someone to run his offense, then he could potentially be ok. But Van Gundy changing his style of play this late in the game is like asking a person to take on a different personality than who they are. The fact is Van Gundy is a defensive guy with little to no offensive imagination. And that could spell doom for the Pelicans as Anthony Davis potentially enters the free agency after this season (provided he does not sign the extension the Pelicans are supposedly laying out for him).

There are plenty of candidates for this job and there is no certainty that Van Gundy will get this job. But if he does, the Pelicans would be rolling the dice that this new coaching hire would be enough to convince Anthony Davis that New Orleans is the place to achieve even higher levels of success. In the end, it will be interesting to see if he is able to morph this Pelicans team into a tough defensive unit, should he get the opportunity to coach them, while making a creative and effective offense in the process.

The Houston Rockets Will Never Win Anything With Dwight Howard

Dwight Howard is not the guy to take Houston where they want to go. (photo courtesy of www.anyandeverythingblog.com)

Dwight Howard is not the guy to take Houston where they want to go. (photo courtesy of http://www.anyandeverythingblog.com)

The Houston Rockets staved off elimination at the hands of the Golden State Warriors Monday night. Many expect them to still lose this series after going down 3-0, but of course, many did not expect the Rockets to even be in this position. Down 3-1 in their series versus the Los Angeles Clippers, the Rockets became only the 10th team in NBA history to come back from a 3-1 deficit to win a series. Plenty started to believe in the Rockets again. They were powered by star guard James Harden and the role players on the team were playing well. But as they head out of the Toyota Center for potentially the last time, the joy has turned to concern and focus. The Rockets have been leaning heavy on the services of James Harden this series. And all except for Game 3, Harden has been there and shown up. But there is the matter of the other star of this team. Dwight Howard is as good of a physical specimen as there is in the NBA. His size, speed and leaping ability are things that athletes dream of. With the physical matchup he had going into this series, there was some thought he would have a chance to dominate the series. Well, that thought has quickly turned into what most thought it would be in the end: disappointment. And that is the ultimate problem when it comes to Dwight Howard.

Before Howard came to Houston, the Rockets were a franchise trying to make it back to the level they were in the mid-1990’s with Rudy Tomjanovich as coach and Hakeem Olajuwon as the centerpiece of their team. While they did not quite make it there, the team made it back to the playoffs in 2013 while being led by Harden and a miscellaneous crew of players. When Dwight came to town, he was hailed as the missing piece to take the Rockets to the next level. Howard is a former Defensive Player of the Year, so naturally he was expected to help take their defense to the next level. But on the offensive end, he was expected to have an effect as well. Howard was to be working with Olajuwon, who still lives in the Houston area, on his post moves. And he was going to get his wish to get more opportunities on the block. Well, that happened and that proved to expose Howard more than anything. Howard may be a good athlete, but he is not the greatest when it comes to post play. Throwing it down to Dwight is always an adventure and has been so since he has been in the NBA. You would think at this point in his career he would have some sort of consistent post moves besides catching alley-oops and offensive rebound putbacks. But unfortunately he either does not have that down or is lacking in confidence in making those moves. Well, whatever the case, he is not dependable there. And when he gets in position, he can be fouled, which leads Dwight going to the free throw line, and that is not a win for Howard either.

Along with Howard’s play on the court, he also came to Houston to be a leader in the locker room. Dwight Howard mistakenly gets credit for leading the Orlando Magic to the NBA Finals versus the Los Angeles Lakers in the 2008-2009 season. But in all actuality, it was the versatility of point forward Hedu Tukoglu that led them to the Finals. But make no mistake that he was a presence though, averaging 20 points and 15 rebounds. But how quickly some forget that the Magic were outclassed in that NBA Finals and Dwight did not have quite the effect he was thought to the entire game. His leadership was not evident there at that point when they were down. Fast forward to now and the Dwight Howard experience has not gone as planned for the Rockets. He is there, but last year they were bounced earlier than they thought and this season he missed half the games with knee issues. But even when he was on the floor, it seemed like he was not the same athletic Dwight we are used to seeing and it also seemed like he was not in any way a part of the leadership there. It is officially Harden’s team now and also when they huddles are going on, notice that Howard does not say much at all. In fact, veteran guard Jason Terry is way more vocal than he is and he did not play for the Rockets last season. Howard is not a leader and will never be one. And if someone is following him as their leader, then they may want to understand that Howard has not shown that he can be a leader at any point and time of his career. And any leader that is seen laughing on the bench when their team is getting blown out and that does some things that are not the mark of a leader is someone you may not want to follow anyway.

The addition of Howard could have been good, but Howard did not recognize his gift and put in the work to become the big man that many thought he could. So instead of getting a guy that could help take them to the next level, the Rockets got a big man that is closing in on 30 years old and is not the dominant big man and leader they thought he would be. To best use Howard, he needs to be a rebounder, finisher and defender because his offense is not something that you can depend on to ever take you where you want to go. When Orlando went to the NBA Finals, it was almost like a needle being found in a haystack and being thrown back in, only to be missing again. That glimmer of Dwight being the man to take you to the Promiseland is something of a mystery. Dwight is going to lead the Rockets nowhere fast. And that is just the cold reality of his presence in Houston.

Conference Finals Preview With Chucky Brown

Chucky Brown in action blocking Spurs guard Avery Johnson's shot. (photo courtesy of www.beaumontenterprise.com)

Chucky Brown in action blocking Spurs guard Avery Johnson’s shot. (photo courtesy of http://www.beaumontenterprise.com)

The Conference Finals are finally upon us. In the West, we have the Golden State Warriors versus the Houston Rockets.  And in the East, we have the Atlanta Hawks and the Cleveland Cavaliers.  Both pretty good matchups and both pitting the #1 seed versus the #2 seed. But how does it play out? Today I reached out to someone that is familiar with all these teams being that he played for them all. Former NBA player Chucky Brown gave me his thoughts on the conference finals along with his best memories from his playing days.

Mike Patton: Chucky, you played for a lot of teams in the NBA. What was the most memorable team you played on and why?

Chucky Brown: That would be the Houston Rockets team back in 1995. That was the year we won the title. Everyone knew their role, had the same goal and wanted to win the title together.

MP: What is your best professional basketball memory?

CB: Besides winning the title, I would say the best memories I have are all the guys that I met over my career. I’m still in contact with some of them to this day.

MP: Good to hear. Well, let’s get down to the playoff action. What have you thought about the playoffs so far?

CB: The playoffs have been pretty good. I hate it that Memphis and Chicago had injuries. I would have loved to have seen Cleveland at full strength, but injuries are a part of the game.

MP: As far as the conference finals matchups, which one intrigues you more?

CB: The Golden State/Houston matchup is one that intrigues me. Houston lost the season series to them, but now they have everyone back except for point guard Patrick Beverly and that could make things interesting. Houston has learned how to play without a point guard.

MP: What are some keys for the Houston Rockets/ Golden State Warriors series?

CB: For Golden State,  they must shoot well and defend so they can get out in transition. The Warriors must also protect the paint. In regards to the Rockets, they need to attack the paint but they also need to make the Warriors take the ball out. That will help keep them out of transition. And the Rockets also have to defend well in the halfcourt.

MP: Who is someone not on the marquee that you see playing really well in this series?

CB: For Golden State, that would be Harrison Barnes. He is a really good player that the Warriors don’t use as much. He started coming on in the Memphis series and could continue it in this one. As far as the Rockets, Josh Smith is the name that comes to mind. He has ben playing very well recently. If he continues that, he could make a difference.

MP: What are some keys for the Cleveland Cavaliers/Atlanta Hawks series?

CB: For the Cavs, their roles players are key. They could be the difference in this series if they play well. As for the Hawks, they cannot let the role players get going and make LeBron James have to do everything, being that he is a pass-first player. They also have to play good team defense as well.

MP: Who is someone not on the marquee that could have a big effect on this series?

CB:  The Cavs have a guy in Tristian Thompson that was a huge factor in the Chicago series on the boards. He could have that same type of effect on the boards in this series versus Atlanta.

MP: Who do you think win both series and in how many games?

CB: I think Cleveland will win in six games because of having the best player in the NBA, LeBron James, on their side. As far as in the Western Conference, I believe the Rockets will win the series in seven games. They showed extreme character in the Clippers series when faced with adversity and I think they can carry that over to this series.

MP: Who do you have winning it all?

CB: If the Rockets get there, then the Rockets. Regardless, the champion is coming out of the West.

Many thanks to Chucky Brown for his time and answers on the Conference Finals. What do you all think of what he said?

The Los Angeles Clippers Were Tragically Flawed From The Beginning

Doc, Chris Paul and Blake Griffin having a meeting of the minds. (photo courtesy of www.rappler.com)

Doc, Chris Paul and Blake Griffin having a meeting of the minds. (photo courtesy of http://www.rappler.com)

The Los Angeles Clippers were one game away from heading to their first Western Conference Finals. The task was going to be tough though. The Clippers, after giving up a 3-1 series lead to the Rockets, had to travel to Houston to win a Game 7. You would have thought that the Clippers would have brought one of their best games with the season on the line. But after watching them fall in Game 7 to the Rockets 113-100, the Clippers just seemed to lack that energy to get the job done. The hope they had of making history was gone just like that and the Clippers are joining all the other teams that have lost in the playoffs in the offseason. Plenty are already assessing the blame of this loss on players like Blake Griffin and Chris Paul. And others are blaming Clippers head coach Doc Rivers for the loss as well. But if you really take a look at this team, there were flaws with them from the beginning of the season. The team could have played better in Game 7 and that is understood. There were expectations that were there, but there were also many holes in this team and they were never really addressed by general manager and president Doc Rivers.

Looking at the Clippers, they had arguably the best point guard in the NBA. Chris Paul has been dazzling all of us with his play for his entire career. But in the playoffs, success has seemed to escape him. This year was the year that the pressure was mounting on him. Plenty felt he was going to make that jump as well with this current Clipper team. But if you take a look at their starting lineup, there has been an issue from the jump. Blake Griffin, Chris Paul and DeAndre Jordan were solid at the power forward, point guard and center positions. JJ Reddick was solid this season at the shooting guard position, even though he was somewhat limited in terms of all the things he could do. But when it comes to the small forward position, the Clippers were sorely lacking there. The team trotted out veteran wing player Matt Barnes as their starter this season. And although he had his moments starting for them, he was and is not a starter at this point in his career. The best thing for him to do is be a sub off the bench. In that position, he can come in and give energy, defend and make open shots. Moving him to the bench and bringing in a starting small forward would have been the ideal thing to do for the Clippers this season instead of depending on veterans like Hedo Turkoglu to be a backup off the bench. If you notice in this season, Hedo has not been the best coming in off the bench and he honestly is a guy that should not even be suiting up at this point. Barnes was severely exposed this series versus the Houston Rockets. His first game was great for the Clippers when he put up 20 points, but the rest of the series he was not very good. The veteran forward did not even crack double-figures the entire rest of the series and finished this series by not even scoring in the biggest game of the season. His counterpart on the Rockets, forward Trevor Ariza, had a way better series than he did. Ariza was in double-figures every single game and averaged 16.7 points. He was the perfect third scorer for the Rockets and he actually showed up in the big Game 7, scoring 22 big points and helping complete a big comeback versus the Clippers. The Clippers could have only hoped to have that type of production from Barnes, but they knew they could not depend on it at all.

Barnes starting at small forward was not the only issue the Clippers had. If you look at championship teams, everyone that comes off their bench brings something to the table. Even the teams with LeBron James and Dwayne Wade had pieces like Mike Miller coming in and shooting big shots along with other pieces as well. But if you look at the Clippers, it seems they did not have that piece at all besides Jamal Crawford. Crawford is instant offense, but he also has to put up a lot of shots to get his points. He shot under 40% for the series. But other than Crawford, the Clippers had absolutely no one they could count on consistently all season. Doc Rivers’ son, Austin Rivers, had some good games in the playoffs, but in the last few games down the stretch, he disappeared as well. And behind DeAndre Jordan, the Clippers really had no one to come in and make some plays for them. Doc Rivers barely played his free-agent acquisition, Spencer Hawes, when it came to this series and the previous series. And other than him, there was only Glen “Big Baby” Davis that was there to backup Jordan. On a championship team, these three are not enough to get it done. And in this series, they proved to be not enough. If you flip over to the team that they played on Sunday, the Rockets got contributions from every area off their bench actually. They got something from rookie big man Clint Capella, forward Terrance Jones, forward Corey Brewer and veteran point guard Pablo Prigioni. And this Houston team would have been even deeper if they had their starting point guard, Patrick Beverly, and their other big man, Donatas Montiejunas. The construction of that team was way better than that of the Clippers. And there were other teams that had better constructions of a team and bench than the Clippers, but they are the most recent to show their bench up. The bench really hurt the Clippers and it showed even more in Game 7. Over the season, they have been able to overcome the issues they had there, but it eventually caught up to them and it bit them bad at the wrong time.

Going forward, it will be interesting to see how the Clippers rebound from this loss. Center DeAndre Jordan is a free agent this summer and there is a possibility that he may not come back(even though he probably will be back in Los Angeles). Chris Paul just turned 30 and is not getting any younger. And Blake Griffin, who had been playing to an MVP level in the playoffs, decided that he would not come out with all his energy in Game 7. One solution to making the Clippers better may be to bring back Barnes and move him to the bench while finding a starting small forward. And while they are at it, the Clippers may want to take a look at sending JJ Reddick to the bench as well. He had a great season, but to expect him to duplicate that is asking a lot. Moving him to the bench while adding a bigger shooting guard (Reddick is 6’4” as listed) will make them a better defensive team and also will give their bench more pop. Doc Rivers will be on the clock for making this team better this offseason and he is definitely going to catching some heat for what he created in this team and this bench. Some say the Clippers may want to blow it up, but that may not be the case here. Some changes need to be made, but tearing this team up is not the answer. Making this team younger and more athletic at the shooting guard and small forward position along with making the bench better should yield better results for the Clippers. But as far as this team, they were tragically flawed and the hope in them went as far as their best players. But it died when you looked at the performances of their role players, which are needed to win a championship.

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