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Why Dwight Howard to Houston makes so much sense

Dwight Howard can trade in his Laker attire and make this scene a reality next month When it comes to star pursuits, Rockets fans have grown accustomed to disappointment the past several years.



Dwight Howard and the Houston Rockets

Dwight Howard can trade in his Laker attire and make this scene a reality next month

When it comes to star pursuits, Rockets fans have grown accustomed to disappointment the past several years.

There was the Chris Bosh IPad delivery, the bronze medal finish for Carmelo Anthony, Dwightmares I and II and the Chris Paul trade… without getting Chris Paul. And let’s just agree not to talk about Nene, which would be like trying to justify the fashion sense you showed in 6th grade.

But James Harden changed everything. The Rockets are no longer the pimple-faced dweeb desperately asking any mildly popular female out for a date — they now are the hot chick. They can afford to be picky.

‘You need a star to get a star’ and nothing illustrates this better than seeing how the attitude of one Dwight Howard has changed about Houston in less than a year. Last June, David Aldridge reported that there was “not a chance” Dwight would re-sign with Houston if traded here. Today, numerous reports suggest the Laker free agent is strongly considering coming here of his own free will.

And justifiably so. This could be a very good marriage as it looks like a perfect fit for both the Rockets and the 27-year old center.

Why it makes perfect sense for the Rockets

  • Defense wins championships. This can’t be stressed enough. The NBA’s “Final Four” this year were ranked 1st, 2nd, 3rd and 9th in defensive ranking. Oklahoma City, which probably would have been there without a key injury, was ranked 4th. We can talk stretch fours and three-point efficiency all day, but if the Rockets are to make a true leap forward, they have to do it defensively. There’s no better defensive anchor than Dwight Howard.

  • Instant Contenders. Forget all this “youngest team in the league” talk. If the Rockets sign Dwight Howard, they catapult from young upstarts to expected contender, being discussed with the likes of Miami, Indiana, San Antonio and Oklahoma City.

  • Asik flexibility. The Rockets were pretty good defensively in the halfcourt when Omer Asik was in the game. When he was out, they dropped like a rock. Howard and Asik would assure the Rockets of 48 minutes of top-flight paint patrol, OR, if they can fill the backup center spot in other ways and instead eye an improvement at the four, they now have a prized trade asset in Asik. Simple example to illustrate it: Omer Asik for Kevin Garnett — who says no? I doubt KG or the Celtics would.

  • The pick-and-roll. The Rockets have a pick-and roll lead ace in Harden and another pretty good one in Jeremy Lin. Howard was one of the best pick-and-roll finishers in the league last year, and the best in 2011-12, his final year in Orlando. Howard sets strong screens, has good hands and goes hard to the basket. He can finish in traffic or on the lob. A Harden-Howard pick-and-roll would be lethal — you’ll see a lot of buckets and trips to the line between those two.

  • A dagger in the heart. Howard signing with Houston would do serious damage to two key rivals — the Lakers and the Dallas Mavericks. It would be a lost 2013-14 season in Los Angeles, and their future draft pick situation is a mess from past trades for Steve Nash and Howard. Their hopes would hang on a LeBron James signing in 2014 or an Andrew Wiggins miracle, and the same might be said about the Mavs, who had kept the Rockets a distant third in the Texas Triangle for years. They were the Texas team that had the most interest from free agents. Not anymore.

  • Poetic justice. With the Rockets’ run as a title hopeful ending with Yao Ming’s injury in 2009, the Lakers picked up Houston free agent Ron Artest and won a championship the following year. Now the roles have reversed. Kobe Bryant’s injury (and age) puts Los Angeles in limbo and the Rockets are on the upswing to contention.

Why it makes perfect sense for Dwight Howard

  • Winning. It’s that simple. The Rockets provide the best chance at the ring, this season and beyond. They have a not-yet 24 year old guard who scores and passes like a star, a blossoming wing player in Chandler Parsons and a general manager in Daryl Morey who has proven to be masterful at filling the roster with capable role players. The Lakers have a 35-year old grumpy star trying to recover from a serious Achilles tear (and, oh by the way, he doesn’t like you) and a point guard old enough to have played with George Mikan. Not a tough call from a winning standpoint.

  • Money. While the parroted line is that the Lakers can offer “$30 million more” to Howard than any other team, that’s primarily because they are the only team that can offer a fifth year on the contract, a year that Howard would likely opt out of to become a free agent. Tony Nitti of Forbes did a terrific job breaking down how state taxes in California make it so the Rockets’ offer is actually more lucrative for Howard than the Lakers’ package over the first four years. After weighing in state taxes, the Lakers deal is worth around $79 million over the first four years compared to $86 million from the Rockets. Throw in the fact that the Collective Bargaining Agreement between players and owners expires in 2017 and Howard may want to opt out after three years, signing a new deal before the new CBA comes into play. When you consider that Howard will likely want to cash in on one more major deal while in his prime (in three or four years), it’s Houston — not Los Angeles — that offers the better deal.

  • Coach McHale. You want a coach who knows and understands the role of the big man? That’s Kevin McHale. McHale, a 6-foot-10 power forward, was a 7-time All-Star and 3-time NBA Champion. In Houston under McHale, the strengths of Howard’s game won’t be ignored.

  • Strong, stable ownership. Rockets’ owner Les Alexander has owned the team for 20 years and has multiple championships. Alexander was ahead of the curve in hiring Morey and utilizing basketball analytics to aid in making decisions. He has proven to be an owner willing to spend to contend and, more importantly, spends wisely and efficiently. The players needed to complement Harden and Howard will be there.

  • Connection in China. Dwight Howard is a superstar, but blowing up in China could further establish his global brand. Since drafting Yao Ming in 2002, the Rockets have built lasting business relationships in China. Current Rocket Jeremy Lin is largely responsible for the NBA’s growth in China and Taiwan the last two years.

  • Chemistry. This isn’t the Lakers — there’s no internal bickering as these guys genuinely like each other. Houston fans would welcome and adore Howard.

Howard’s Twitter bio says one simple thing: “After the ring!”

The Lakers and Mavericks will try to sell him on what they can eventually add in 2014 and beyond to help him in that pursuit. The Rockets are way ahead of them, locked and loaded right now and for years to come. If winning is truly Howard’s goal in free agency — to set himself up right now for legitimate shots at the ring — there is only one logical choice.

That’s Houston.

Armed with a bizarre fascination for Mario Elie and a deep love of the Houston Rockets, Dave Hardisty started ClutchFans in 1996 under the pen name “Clutch”.

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  1. fyrebear

    June 3, 2013 at 11:49 am

    Great writeup! Howard & Harden would be an awesome core to build a championship team around. Makes sense for everyone. I think Howard would flourish in Houston and being paired with an easy going unselfish star player like Harden would be perfect. Once Howard signs his contract I think we will see the end of all of that ‘drama’ and he goes back to being the top post threat in the NBA.

    • rocketsfun

      June 10, 2013 at 2:03 pm

      Harden not selfish?  Look at the lost games led by Harden in the past season, Harden made a lot of turnovers and missed shots but still didn’t let other players as key person. He always passed the ball to others until the last 2 seconds. That’s very selfish play. He tried all means to get his stats look good. That’s selfish. He didn’t make others better only himself. Howard with harden? I didn’t see any contender teams but the gossip hype for the sports news. I think that’s the purpose of why Morey wants to sign him– to make Rockets more famous in the NBA. Everybody knew Howard is such a childish adult. Needs to be spoiled too much. He will damage the good chemistry.

      • 34 2 11

        June 13, 2013 at 6:49 pm

        rocketsfun  Your English is muddled but your ignorance is crystal clear. James Harden is as unselfish a player you’ll find at his position. 
        Your words echo the hollow criticisms of a certain “player specific” collective  whose sole objective is to prop up their hero at all costs, even to the detriment of the team. I think that is why you and your compatriots are so against the Rockets bringing in A-level talent because you fear it will further diminish the significance of your favorite player.
        The addition of Howard to this Rockets team is the best of all possible moves. It puts the Rockets is a position of contention with anticipation and expectation we haven’t seen since the arrival of Tracy McGrady.

  2. surreALEX

    June 3, 2013 at 11:51 am

    Good write up. Howard and Harden!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  3. dasgda

    June 3, 2013 at 12:22 pm

    Uhhhhh you forgot to mention the team he is going to the ATL Hawks. Paul/Horford/Howard>>>>>>>>>>>Harden/Howard and it really isn’t close.

    • BimaThug

      June 3, 2013 at 1:30 pm

      dasgda If the salary cap comes in at $58.5 million (as expected), then both Dwight and CP3 would have to sign at a discount to team up in Atlanta, likely a bigger discount than Lebron, Bosh and Wade gave Miami in 2010.  Not saying it won’t happen, but the Rockets would be able to pay Dwight more to play with Harden, Parsons, Lin, Asik, Beverley and multiple good young PF prospects than Atlanta could reasonably pay him if the Hawks were also adding CP3.

    • jahunter221

      June 4, 2013 at 7:56 am

      Get off the crack

    • jahunter221

      June 4, 2013 at 7:57 am

      Get off the dope atlanta

    • ramnale

      June 4, 2013 at 9:10 am

      dasgda Well that was stupid.  You just added a player whos not even on your team(Paul) just to try to look better than us.  You know if  you put Horford/Howard against a Harden/Howard, that wouldnt even be close.  As for me, I wouldnt mind picking up Garnet or Gasol if the Howard trade doesnt go thru.

  4. kevC

    June 3, 2013 at 12:38 pm

    Where is the bullet for “finest strip clubs”?

  5. LetItBurnUSA

    June 3, 2013 at 12:54 pm

    It all comes down to what’s more important to Howard. The glamor of Hollywood and more guaranteed money(for now) or the opportunity to win right away. If it’s the former, he remains a Laker. If it’s the latter, he either becomes a Rocket or maybe an Atlanta Hawk.

  6. da_juice

    June 3, 2013 at 7:05 pm

    Good read, I also like that there’s been more articles up lately. I’m just trying not to get my hopes up too much.

  7. Mathloom

    June 4, 2013 at 3:50 am

    Great analysis. I’m convinced that, if Howard doesn’t join, both the Rockets and Howard will be worse off. If he genuinely is basing his decision on the ability to win a championship in a 3 year window (before he can opt out) then we are the best bet. None of the Lakers, Dallas or Atlanta can offer him a shot at the title in all 3 of those seasons. Equally important, Harden is the best player of anyone on all 4 rosters. It’s also a bit far fetched to think that returning to contender status in 2014 is a given for the other teams.

  8. rampak

    June 4, 2013 at 3:51 am

    Except for playing under mchale and chinese market, other teams can also offer howard the same things.yet, if there is one thing kobe can teach, is that you don’t have to play with a chinese to be big there.Mchale is a hall of fame pf, who refused to play one of his four pf.Your proposed trade for garnet, doesn’t make sense for celtics.Asik’s offense is too raw. The only reason celtics will pursue asik is to pair him with garnet

  9. phil

    June 4, 2013 at 2:35 pm

    This is nonsense. Dwight has not gotten better in the low post, freethrows, jumpshots, etc. His basketball iq is questionable. His strongest asset is defense and it has been several years since his peak. He relies on his athleticism like stoudemire and has not learned the.skills and has been more and more injury prone. Do you want.a 20 million a year amare stoudemire called superman

    • JB012

      June 5, 2013 at 5:01 pm

      @phil 100% this. Howard IS NOT worth it. There’s plenty of other bigs with WAY less risk. Rockets fans who want Howard to Houston are caught up in the hype.

      • fyrebear

        June 6, 2013 at 8:34 am

        @JB012 @phil In Dwight Horward’s worst year (playing hurt coming off surgery) he was 3rd team All NBA at C. DH has his warts like any NBA player, but he is leagues better than Amare, especially defensively. 
        “There’s plenty of other bigs with WAY less risk.”
        Please tell us the “available” bigs for which the Rockets can choose from that have the ‘ceiling’ to propel the Rockets to the next level in a way that DH12 has the ability to.

        • phil

          June 7, 2013 at 11:08 pm

          Your not understanding my comparison. Amare used to average bigger numbers than dwight until he lost his athleticism(injurys). Amare’s game lacks fundamental skills and that’s why he’s not affective anymore. Dwight also relies on his athleticism and doesn’t have the fundamentals so an injury could make him a non factor as well. If he can’t jump over people he can’t score.

        • phil

          June 7, 2013 at 11:21 pm

          I would go after our need, pf. Ideally a derrick favors or maybe d.cousins. If not then split the time with jones & robinson only! This is the youngest team in the league and the 23-24 year olds will only get better with time, don’t believe anyone that thinks we have to rush. We need a legit post player

        • Ryan

          July 5, 2013 at 7:24 pm

          fyrebear “Please tell us the “available” bigs for which the Rockets can choose from that have the ‘ceiling’ to propel the Rockets to the next level in a way that DH12 has the ability to.”  
          Exactly.  As Morey said when he traded for Hasheem Thabeet (where is he these days, anyway?), we need a big man, and you can’t trade for proven big men in this league because teams won’t give them up.  
          Understand, I’m not totally sold on him either – he’s got a bad back and arguably a worse attitude – but there’s no question that the Rockets just got the attention of every team in the league.

  10. phil

    June 4, 2013 at 2:54 pm

    There’s also the issue of the drama dwight causes because of his unstable mentality. You would not able to start asik.& dwight(scoring, ft’s, jumpshots, etc) or bring asik off the bench(too good). Big men don’t get healthier as they age and the rockets style is not gonna help. He’s got a quitter mentality, magic, lakers

    • phil

      June 7, 2013 at 11:35 pm

      I would also demote mchale to assistant and bring in jeff van gundy. He’s the best defensive coach out there with tons of knowledge and experience. I would never ever trade an asik for aging kg, trading a bright star big man for a past his prime about to retire is ludacris!

  11. EricHeard

    June 5, 2013 at 6:24 am

    Howard + Harden = H-town

  12. Dadakota

    June 5, 2013 at 6:34 am

    Great article, it would be awesome to cheer for a contender again.DD

    • jahunter221

      June 6, 2013 at 9:48 am

      Preach Dakota preach!!!!!””

  13. solid

    June 6, 2013 at 9:55 am

    Agree with everything except the owner having “multiple championships.” A bit of a reach don’t you think? He bought them, didn’t earn them. And he hasn’t done much with the “twenty years” until recently.

  14. formido

    June 7, 2013 at 12:59 pm

    I’d say Lin is “pretty good” at pick and roll. 🙂 Morey said in a recent interview that he was the 5th best pick and roll player in the league:

  15. PhiSlammaJamma

    June 9, 2013 at 12:13 pm

    I don’t see the logic the same way. The Lakers hold all the cards. They have the better team, they have the bigger star, they have a better lifestyle, they have the history, they attract more free agents, and they have the better coach. They don’t have youth, and they don’t have China. But seriously, they own us more we than we own them. So for me, the logic falls to the Lakers. That said, Howard is not logical. He’s emotional. And so I do think there is a chance to brainwash him into coming here. But the logic all lies with the Lakers and I’m just being honest. So if it comes down to that, they will win. They won the last time. They have won this war many times before. They will win it again.

    • MikeMcMannes

      June 10, 2013 at 12:11 pm

      Rarely do I find a post that is wrong on nearly EVERY point…but alas, I have found another.

  16. rocketsfun

    June 10, 2013 at 2:07 pm

    Last year Rockets signed Jeremy lin for Asian markets. this year, Rockets wants to sign Howard for American markets so that NBA or sports world will talk about Huston everyday. Howard and Harden can make contender? Kobe Bryne and Harward, and Nash all together could not make title contender. Rockets needs a best PF to help the team for title contender not the dram queen.

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Houston Rockets

Three predictions for an important Rockets offseason

The 2023 offseason is critical for the Houston Rockets and here’s what we think will happen




Houston Rockets Stephen Silas Alperen Sengun Kevin Porter Jr

We have almost arrived to the oasis.

For over two years, the “2023 Offseason” has been circled on the calendar as the turning point, the time when the Houston Rockets will switch gears and make winning a priority. With potentially $60 million in cap room and a top draft pick coming, this is the moment of truth that Rafael Stone and the Rockets front office pitched to the Fertittas when the rebuild began.

Does that mean the Rockets are going to magically start winning next season? Not necessarily. But it does mean we won’t see Daishen Nix run the point for 36 minutes in the name of player development. They want to win.

It’s very tough to know what will happen this offseason, given the unknown variables. The Rockets could land a top-two pick, which would bring them Victor Wembanyama or Scoot Henderson, radically boosting their future. James Harden could opt to return, which also significantly boosts their near-term prospects.

But regardless of whether or not luck presents a “lifeboat” (Harden, Wemby, Scoot), here are some things I believe will happen.

Also, if you have been joining us in RocketsWatch all season, first of all, thank you! We greatly appreciate all the fan support this season. But if you’ve stuck around through a tough season, you know that none of this will come as a surprise. I have been talking about these predictions since January.

1. Rockets, Stephen Silas Will Part Ways

Stephen Silas is going to be let go this offseason.

The original plan was for Silas to coach this season and start the next, getting a shot once the Rockets were making winning their top priority. But the bar was low this season and he still fell short. There were several times where the team needed a stronger hand and it wasn’t there. The roster wasn’t built to win, but there is no argument to be made that coaching did anything to enhance the situation.

It’s important to point out that Silas got a raw deal, coming to Houston under different circumstances expecting to coach a veteran team. But this is the hand that was dealt and the Rockets have to play it. Silas may be a fine coach, but he’s not the right coach for this team and that’s all that matters at this stage.

Ownership was ready to move on by midseason, but a variety of factors have led to him finishing the year. But this is going to be it. They sorely need fresh eyes and a different voice.

Confidence Level: 100%

2. The Kevin Porter Jr. Starting Point Guard Experiment Will End

The Rockets got Kevin Porter Jr. for free from the Cleveland Cavaliers in 2021, but he’s been anything but since.

Houston paid nearly $100 million to John Wall to stay at home so they could groom KPJ as their future point guard. They also signed Porter Jr to a team-friendly four-year deal despite the fact that a much more team-friendly restricted free agency was on deck.

Porter Jr. has gotten better and more comfortable at the lead guard spot in two-plus seasons, which could bode well for his future here, but it’s not near enough. He lacks ability to make advanced reads, which is one of the reasons the Rockets are dead last in corner three-point attempts. His tendency is to isolate, which is his strength, and that can create a lot of selfish basketball. In essence, the Rockets have been starting a pair of shooting guards.

The Rockets love them some KPJ, particularly Stone, so I’m not saying he’s done here. He could thrive in an alternate role, if he embraces it. But the Rockets want to make a leap next season, the first year they are on the hook to Oklahoma City for their first-round pick from the costly Russell Westbrook trade. You’re probably not going to make a bigger jump than by improving the on-court leader spot.

Confidence Level: 80%

3. Alperen Şengün Will Be Shopped

You either believe Alperen Sengun is the next Nikola Jokic or he’s a defensive liability that is too much trouble to build around. There doesn’t seem to be much in between.

Sengun is incredibly gifted offensively and is only 20 years old, so it’s very early. This is also the biggest offseason of his young career, where he won’t be preparing for EuroBasket and can specifically train for the NBA.

There is no evidence at all they are looking to trade him. I’m very much going rogue with this prediction. But consider:

   1. Internally he has been viewed as possibly the worst pick-and-roll defensive big in the league.
   2. They started Bruno Fernando over him to open the season.
   3. They rarely run the offense through him (“ŞenHub”).
   4. The Rockets are not well-positioned with future draft picks to trade and likely need to move a good young player if they’re looking at any significant deals.
   5. They believe bringing in a center is a high priority (though that could be as a backup to Sengun).

To be clear, I’m not predicting Sengun will be dumped but rather we will hear his name floated in rumors. A lot could change — a new coach could see Alpi as key to the future, for example — but right now, given all the factors listed above, I would be surprised if Sengun is the centerpiece of this rebuild. I think he’s more likely the trade piece.

Confidence Level: 60%

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Houston Rockets

Mike D’Antoni: The Rockets isolation offense wasn’t pretty, but it was effective




Mike D'Antoni Houston Rockets

Former Rockets coach Mike D’Antoni made an appearance on the Thinking Basketball podcast to discuss his career, and he went into his stretch with the Houston Rockets (2016-2020).

One of the big topics discussed was the isolation sets that the Rockets ran often and why they did it.

“If that one-on-one was not efficient, we wouldn’t do it,” said D’Antoni. “But it was doing, if I’m not mistaken, 1.2-something (points per possession) ridiculous. 1.16, for a long time, was the standard of the best offense an NBA team had. We kind of blew that out of the water a little bit (at) 1.20, but our isolation game was like 1.25, 1.24, so it was like — why wouldn’t we isolate?”

The former Rockets coach admitted it was not the most pleasing offense to the eye.

“People don’t like it,” said D’Antoni. “Aesthetically it’s not good. I don’t love it. I would rather pass the ball around. And if I had a team that didn’t have James Harden, guess what? We’d be passing the ball around… It wasn’t pretty. People can complain. But when you have the most efficient offense in NBA history, or close to it, why wouldn’t you do it? Just because you want to look pretty?”

D’Antoni talked about how good the Rockets second units were in the 2017-18 season because of Chris Paul, citing how often the Rockets boosted their lead or turned a deficit into an advantage when they turned to the bench.

“Chris was just a maestro at running our offense, and doing it a little bit (Steve) Nash-like,” said D’Antoni. “Harden had to do it like Harden did it, but both of them were good. Both of them were perfect.”

D’Antoni said part of the reason for the iso sets was he wanted to maximize James Harden and make him “the best player he can possibly be.”

“James is one of the smartest players — and there are a bunch of them — that I ever coached,” said D’Antoni. “I thought probably two or three years there, he had a complete mastery of the game. He went over 50 I don’t know how many times in a row. We were banged up one night and I said, ‘James, you might have to get 50 tonight for us to even have a chance to win.’ He gets 60 and we win. Stuff like that. He was able to do stuff (that)… just a mastery of the game.”

On how close the Rockets were to winning a title, said D’Antoni, “I thought we had it, the third year until Chris went down. Maybe not. Who knows, because Golden State had hearts of champions. Those guys are hard to beat. But I thought we had a good chance at it, that’s for sure.”

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Houston Rockets

Why Alperen Sengun will come off the bench

With Bruno Fernando expected to start, here’s the plan for the Rockets second-year center




Alperen Sengun Houston Rockets

When the Rockets traded Christian Wood, it was crystal clear that Alperen Şengün was the new starting center for the Houston Rockets.

As we’re on the cusp of the Rockets 2022-23 season opener, there’s only one problem — he’s not.

Bruno Fernando is expected to get the starting nod at the five for the Rockets, leaving many to wonder why the second-year center out of Turkey is coming off the bench.

There are a couple reasons why.

First, the Rockets are trying to optimize their prospects, putting them each in the best position to succeed. In the case of Sengun, they want to leverage his passing skillset by making him an offensive hub. That’s difficult to do when you have ball-dominant guards in Jalen Green and Kevin Porter Jr., who thrive out of isolation and are trying to make progress leading pick-and-rolls.

Fernando is a much more limited player, but he fits better right now with the starters because he screens/rolls hard and plays above the rim as an alleyoop threat — it’s been fairly apparent in the preseason how the guards use him. While not a great defender, Fernando also is more of a rim protector than Sengun.

Secondly, Sengun needs to adapt more to the NBA game. The Rockets very much believe in his prospects — he’s only 20 years old — and they still consider him the best five on the roster. But the NBA is a much different game than EuroBasket, which is where he spent more of his offseason focus. The days of just dumping the ball into a post player seem to be dwindling in the NBA. He’s got to get quicker, stronger, tougher — but most important of all, he’s got to shoot the ball better from range.

In a culture where coming off the “bench” is considered a demerit (it shouldn’t be), you have to explain the reasons why — but keep in mind, his minutes will still be significant. I expect he will likely get in the 24-26 range this year, an increase over the 20.7 he got last season. He’s still going to have plenty of opportunity to develop.

My two cents: I give the Rockets props for doing this so early. It’s been apparent to me that the Rockets have multiple players who would be considered secondary playmakers, and to maximize their skills, they need the ball in their hands (imagine if the Rockets drafted Paolo Banchero … grateful every day that Jabari fell to #3!). This hopefully allows for that. Playing Sengun off the bench gives you an opportunity to play a variety of ways and also covers up a current deficiency at backup point guard.

I don’t want to watch Sengun follow the guards around — I want to watch peak Sengun running offensive sets.

Overall, I like it — let’s get the season going.

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Houston Rockets

Rockets extend Kevin Porter Jr. to incredibly team-friendly deal

What’s being reported as a four-year, $82M extension is actually a one-year, $15.8M extension with full club control




Kevin Porter Jr. signs Rockets extension

Today was the deadline for the Rockets to extend Kevin Porter Jr. The Rockets have had an offer extended to KPJ for some time and the word behind the scenes was it was likely this day would come and go without a deal.

That changed in a hurry Monday morning.

The Rockets and KPJ agreed on a reported four-year, $82 million extension — at least, that was the initial report.

In truth, the deal is not that at all and is more the spin of an agent. Only the first year of the deal, at just $15.9 million, is guaranteed. The Rockets have until June 30, 2024 to decide if they want to pick up the two following years (2024-25 and 2025-26).

It’s clear KPJ accepted the Rockets longstanding offer because it is one extremely team-friendly deal.

“We value the player and the person that Scoot is becoming and are eager to invest in him and his journey,” said Rockets General Manager Rafael Stone.  “He’s expressed how happy he is to be with this organization and has shown his commitment to putting in the work both on and off the court. We are excited for the opportunity to continue to build something special with him.”

In essence, the structure of this contract fully acknowledges the risks associated with betting on KPJ. It’s not the money you’re giving him — it’s the years. If you give him a long-term deal with fully guaranteed money and things go south, that is an unmovable contract — a cardinal sin to give out when your rebuild is going so phenomenally well after the drafting of Jalen Green and Jabari Smith Jr.

This deal reflects that risk and comes close to eliminating it. The Rockets control all the upside. If KPJ pans out beautifully, they can extend him — it’s 100% their decision. If he doesn’t pan out or the roster/core shifts in an unexpected way — such as being in position to draft Scoot Henderson — KPJ could be a large expiring contract next season.

The Rockets basically signed KPJ to the Sam Hinkie Special (contracts you saw with Chandler Parsons, Jae’Sean Tate and KJ Martin), but with much bigger dollar figures.

For KPJ’s part, there is a small win — he’s gets almost $16 million next season and is signed for this season ($3.2M) and next. He doesn’t have to worry about the finances as much while still staying highly motivated to play well. He didn’t fully bet on himself and take this to restricted free agency, but he did still take a deal that incentivizes him to earn it. But this deal isn’t in the same stratosphere as the ones you saw signed by Tyler Herro and Jordan Poole.

The bottom line: There are risks to signing KPJ that were mitigated by this unique contract structure. If you are a fan of the Rockets remaining flexible as they strive to build a contender, you should be thrilled with this. Big win for Stone and the Houston front office.

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Houston Rockets

KJ Martin reportedly drawing interest on trade market

Rockets have had “ongoing talks” with Phoenix Suns about the third-year forward




KJ Martin Houston Rockets

According to Jake Fischer of Yahoo Sports, the Phoenix Suns have had “ongoing talks” about acquiring Rockets forward KJ Martin while Portland and Miami are “two other known teams with interest in Martin.”

There has been talk of trading KJ since before the summer when his father, former NBA All-Star Kenyon Martin, reportedly sought a trade for his son. With the Rockets holding multiple picks in the draft, it appeared the writing was on the wall for reduced minutes for KJ.

Martin has looked like a trusted member of Stephen Silas’ rotation so far in preseason. KJ has played in all three games, averaging 11.0 points and 4.0 rebounds in 26.0 minutes, hitting 5-11 from deep.

At the same time, Jabari Smith Jr. is the future, Jae’Sean Tate seems to be the coaching staff darling and Tari Eason has exploded onto the scene. Minutes for KJ could be available but they will be hard to come by.

If the Rockets are going to trade KJ, what should be the asking price? My feeling is a “good” second-round pick (one that could be expected to be in the 31-42 range) would be the goal. If the Rockets were offered a lottery-protected first-round pick, I think that would be a steal right now for Houston.

What could make more sense is if the Rockets combined KJ Martin with a player like Eric Gordon, especially given the goals of suitors like the Suns, Blazers and Heat.


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