Archive for the ‘ Houston Rockets Blog ’ Category

Rockets coaching search update

The Rockets finished 41-41 this past regular season and then were quickly tossed out of the playoffs. Some roster changes are needed. But first, they need a head coach. Here’s ESPN.com with the latest:

The Houston Rockets, after focusing their coaching search on Mike D’Antoni for much of the past week, have opted to broaden the search.

The Rockets, according to league sources, have scheduled a Monday interview with San Antonio Spurs assistant coach James Borrego, who is a finalist for the Memphis Grizzlies’ coaching vacancy.

ESPN reported earlier this week that Borrego and Miami Heat assistant David Fizdale had emerged as strong contenders for the Grizzlies’ post following the decision by Frank Vogel, Memphis’ top target, to take the Orlando Magic job.

The Rockets have lots of major roster decisions to make. The team was good enough to just barely qualify for the playoffs, but then were quickly sent packing and looked ready for vacation before their first round sweep at the hands of the Warriors was even complete. The team’s future is confusing. They are nowhere near being a serious playoff competitor, yet as long as a super offensive talent like James Harden is on board, an absolute full rebuild is difficult and unlikely. Oh, and they need a head coach. Here’s ESPN.com reporting:

Rockets reportedly interview Kenny Smith for head coach job

The Houston Rockets interviewed Jeff Hornacek and Kenny Smith for their vacant head-coaching position Tuesday, according to a source.

So far, the Rockets have interviewed David Blatt, Sam Cassell, Chris Finch, Mike D’Antoni, J.B. Bickerstaff, Hornacek and Smith. Bickerstaff pulled his name from consideration for the position last week.

The team has plans to interview Charlotte assistant coach Steven Silas and also has interest in Frank Vogel, who was fired last week as Pacers head coach.

The Cleveland Cavaliers’ LeBron James and the Houston Rockets’ James Harden today were named the Kia NBA Eastern and Western Conference Players of the Month, respectively, for games played in April.

James, who captured his third consecutive monthly honor, led the Eastern Conference in scoring (28.8 ppg) while shooting 65.6 percent from the field (second in the East), including a conference-best 56.3 percent (9-for-16) from three-point range. He added 8.4 rebounds and 7.8 assists (third in the East) in a conference-high 36.9 minutes. James scored at least 30 points in three of his five games, including a 34-point performance against the Hawks on April 11, when the Cavs clinched the top seed in the East playoffs with a 109-94 victory. He also grabbed a season-high 16 rebounds in a 110-108 overtime win over the Hawks on April 1.

Harden led the NBA in scoring (34.8 ppg) as the Rockets closed the season 4-2 to secure the final playoff spot in the West. He shot 49.3 percent from the field and ranked fifth in the West in three-point shooting at 51.7 percent (30-for-58). Harden also ranked fifth in the conference in assists (7.2 apg) and second in minutes (38.9 mpg). He scored at least 30 points in five of six games and hit the 40-point mark twice. On April 13, he scored 38 points as the Rockets clinched a playoff berth by defeating the Sacramento Kings 116-81.

Other nominees for the Kia NBA Eastern and Western Conference Players of the Month Boston’s Isaiah Thomas, Charlotte’s Kemba Walker, Golden State’s Stephen Curry, Indiana’s Paul George, the Los Angeles Clippers’ Jamal Crawford, the Los Angeles Lakers’ Kobe Bryant, Phoenix’s Mirza Teletovic, Portland’s Damian Lillard, Toronto’s DeMar DeRozan and Washington’s John Wall.

The Houston Rockets are 35-37 this season and half a game out of the playoff race, behind the 8th seed Utah Jazz. James Harden is putting up monster stats: 28.5 points, 6.3 rebounds, 7.4 assists and 1.75 steals per game. But in an effort to carry this squad, he’s also averaging 4.6 turnovers per game. That’s a ton. Here’s the Denver Post blog with more:

Huge James Harden season stats also include a ton of turnovers

Houston Rockets guard James Harden has a chance to break the league’s all-time single-season turnovers record. At 332 with 10 games remaining, Harden needs just 34 to tie Artis Gilmore’s 39-year-old mark, according to basketball-reference.com. He is on pace for 372.

The four-time all-star became the first player in a decade to reach at least 321 turnovers last season, the first since Miami’s Dwyane Wade (321) and Philadelphia’s Allen Iverson (344) in 2004-05. Iverson was the first to reach at least 340 since Clippers guard Ron Harper in the 1986-87 season.

In second place this year, Oklahoma City’s Russell Westbrook has 303 through 71 games. He’s on pace for 350 — that’s tied with Charles Barkley’s 1985-86 season in Philadelphia. In third, Washington’s John Wall (291) is trending toward 336 — top-20 all-time.

Huge Jazz-Rockets game tonight

Through Tuesday’s games, the Rockets have the 8th seed in the Western conference, with the Jazz just half a game behind them for 9th. The two teams play against each other tonight in Houston. Huge matchup. Here’s the Salt Lake Tribune reporting:

Gordon Hayward began celebrating his 26th birthday on Wednesday in as much style as is possible for an NBA player about to play his biggest game of the regular season. There was a brief shootaround. He was serenaded by the Utah Jazz rookies. Assistant coach Steven Schwartz penned a hip-hop verse in his honor.

Besides that, there weren’t too many smiles and laughs coming from Hayward, the Jazz small forward. A win over the Houston Rockets is all he and anyone associated with the organization really wants.

This is the chance the Jazz have been waiting for. They are currently a half-game behind the Rockets with 12 to play. The tie-breaker for the season between the two teams is at stake, which means tonight essentially counts as two games in the standings. With four teams jostling for the Western Conference’s last three playoff spots, the enormity of tonight’s game at the Toyota Center can’t be understated.

Rockets waive Ty Lawson (buyout)

Rockets waive Ty Lawson (buyout)

Houston Rockets General Manager Daryl Morey announced today that the team has waived guard Ty Lawson.

Lawson (5-11,195) is in his seventh NBA season. He appeared In 53 games with 12 starts for the Rockets this season.

According to ESPN.com, “Lawson ranks last, 83rd, among point guards in real plus-minus at -5.95. After finishing third in the NBA in assists last season at 9.6, Lawson averaged just 3.4 this season, the lowest total since his rookie season in 2009-10. Lawson has set career lows in field goal percentage (38.7), points per game (5.8) and offensive rating per 100 possessions (98). In the last three games, Lawson participated in just 5.5 minutes per game, and in the last 10 games, he shot 32.4 percent.”

pistons

The Detroit Pistons announced today that the team has rescinded a trade that acquired forward/center Donatas Motiejunas and guard Marcus Thornton from the Houston Rockets in exchange for center Joel Anthony and a protected 2016 first-round draft pick.

“Standard with all trades, medical clearance on all players involved is required for completion. Medical clearance was not given on all players and the trade is being rescinded,” said Jeff Bower, General Manager of the Detroit Pistons. “In view of privacy considerations relating to medical information, we will have no further comment.”

rockets trade

The Detroit Pistons announced today that the team has acquired forward/center Donatas Motiejunas and guard Marcus Thornton from the Houston Rockets in exchange for center Joel Anthony and a protected 2016 first-round draft pick.

“We’re happy to welcome Donatas and Marcus to the Pistons family,” said Jeff Bower, General Manager of the Detroit Pistons. “We like Donatas’ size, his skill level and his ability to play two frontcourt positions. Marcus adds scoring punch to our bench with his ability to create his own shot and make plays. We thank Joel Anthony for his professionalism throughout his time here and we wish him the best going forward.”

Motiejunas, 7-0, 222, has appeared in 191 games in his four-year NBA career and averaged 8.0 points, 4.0 rebounds and 1.0 assists with the Rockets. He averaged career highs in points (12.0 ppg), rebounds (5.9 rpg), assists (1.8 apg), minutes (28.7 mpg), field goal percentage (.504) and games (71) last season.

A native of Lithuania, Motiejunas, 25, was the 20th pick in the 2011 NBA Draft by the Minnesota Timberwolves. He played professionally in the Polish League during the 2011-12 season and led Prokom Gdynia to the Polish League Championship averaging 15.7 points and 6.6 rebounds. He’s also played professionally in Italy and Lithuania and has been a member of the Lithuanian national team at both the youth and senior levels.

Thornton, a six-year NBA veteran, averaged 10.0 points and 1.4 assists in 47 games with the Rockets this season. In 436 career NBA games, he’s averaged 12.4 points, 2.8 rebounds and 1.4 assists with New Orleans, Sacramento, Brooklyn, Boston, Phoenix and Houston. He averaged a career-high 18.7 points per game during the 2011-12 season as a member of the Sacramento Kings. Drafted 43rd overall in the 2009 NBA Draft by the Miami Heat, Thornton’s draft rights were traded to the New Orleans Hornets.

Anthony, 33, saw action in 62 games as a Piston and averaged 1.5 points and 1.7 rebounds. He was acquired from the Boston Celtics on October 17, 2014 in exchange for Will Bynum and re-signed with the Pistons on July 20, 2015. An eight-year NBA veteran, Anthony has averaged 2.2 points, 2.8 rebounds and 1.1 blocks in 465 career games. He was a member of the HEAT’s 2012 and 2013 NBA Championship teams.

Denver Nuggets guard Emmanuel Mudiay will replace injured defending champion Patrick Beverley of the Houston Rockets in the 2016 Skills Challenge on Saturday, Feb. 13 at Air Canada Centre in Toronto.

The Skills Challenge is part of All-Star Saturday Night and this year includes some big-men. In the past, the event was entirely guards.

Mudiay, the seventh pick of NBA Draft 2015, ranks first among rookies in assists (5.9 apg), second in minutes (30.2 mpg) and fifth in scoring (11.4 ppg). A native of what is now the Democratic Republic of Congo, Mudiay will also compete for the World Team in the BBVA Compass Rising Stars Challenge on Friday, Feb. 12 at Air Canada Centre.

Beverley, who won the 2015 Skills Challenge in his event debut, will miss this year’s competition due to an ankle injury.

Rockets are struggling this season

The Houston Rockets are just 27-28 this season and don’t look anything like a serious contender. There is reason for alarm. Here’s the Houston Chronicle reporting:

The Rockets could no longer deny the reality. They had lost interest in the season-long exercise of fooling themselves.

The Rockets took another bad loss into the break. They were smacked around by the Trail Blazers with all the familiar shortcomings through their stunning fall this season glaringly evident on the way to a 116-103 loss that did not seem nearly that close.

They fell to 27-28 and to ninth in the Western Conference, closer to the bottom four teams than the top four that they had once assumed would include them. Save a few misleading stretches on Wednesday, they had spent the night bouncing from disinterested to disillusioned, playing like strangers or worse.

When they were through, the Rockets could no longer cling to the memory of what they once were or expected to be. They faced what they had become with center Dwight Howard and guard James Harden meeting with Rockets interim coach J.B. Bickerstaff and general manager Daryl Morey long into the night.

Here’s ESPN.com reporting on Rockets center Dwight Howard, who is averaging a modest 14.4 points, 11.8 rebounds and 1.6 blocks per game this season for the 25-25 squad.

Rockets want some techs against Dwight Howard rescinded

The Houston Rockets have petitioned the NBA to rescind the four technical fouls administered to center Dwight Howard in the past two games, according to a source.

Howard was ejected for picking up two technical fouls in each of the past two games. He leads the NBA with 12 technicals this season and is tied with the Clippers’ Blake Griffin with two ejections.

Howard was ejected from Saturday’s loss to the Washington Wizards for pushing Nene Hilario in the fourth quarter after they were tangled with each other. It was Howard’s second technical of the game. He picked up the first technical with 6 minutes,16 seconds to play in the opening quarter after getting fouled by Jared Dudley, who grabbed Howard in the upper body. Howard was trying to show the referees what Dudley was doing to him by putting his hands behind Dudley’s neck when he was given the technical.

Clippers trade Josh Smith to Rockets

The L.A. Clippers announced today the team has acquired the draft rights to Maarty Leunen from the Houston Rockets in exchange for forward Josh Smith, the draft rights to Sergei Lishouck and cash considerations.

Leunen, 30, was a stand-out at the University of Oregon and the 54th overall pick in the 2008 NBA Draft by Houston. Leunen currently plays for Scandone Avellino of the Italian Serie A.

The Clippers signed Smith on July 16, 2015 as a free agent and the 11-year NBA veteran appeared in 32 games (1 start) for Los Angeles this season, averaging 5.7 points, 3.9 rebounds and 1.1 blocks in 14.3 minutes per game.

Originally selected by the Atlanta Hawks with the 17th pick in the 2004 NBA Draft, Smith has appeared in 868 career regular season games with Atlanta, Detroit, Houston and the Clippers and owns career averages of 14.8 points, 7.6 rebounds, 3.2 assists and 2.0 blocks in 32.9 minutes.

The rights to Lishouck, 32, were acquired by the Clippers on Jan. 7, 2015 from the Philadelphia 76ers. Originally drafted by the Memphis Grizzlies with the 49th overall selection of the 2004 NBA Draft, Lishouck currently plays for UCAM Murcia in Spain.

Ty Lawson suspended two games

Ty Lawson suspended two games

Houston Rockets’ guard Ty Lawson has been suspended for two games without pay for driving while ability impaired, in violation of the law of the State of Colorado, the NBA announced today.

Lawson’s suspension will begin with tomorrow night’s game between the Houston Rockets and the Los Angeles Clippers.

Here’s ESPN.com with the latest on Rockets center Dwight Howard, who may see his future in existence someplace else, but for now isn’t rocking the boat in Houston:

Dwight Howard reportedly not seeking a trade

With the Houston Rockets struggling to get over .500, questions have begun to surface about the happiness of star center Dwight Howard.

While acknowledging Howard is unhappy with losing, sources said Howard has not expressed a desire to be traded.

Howard has a player option for next season at $23.2 million. The team expects him to become a free agent, taking advantage of a salary cap that is projected to expand from $67 million to nearly $90 million.

Here’s the Houston Chronicle reporting Rockets center Dwight Howard’s reaction to a report that he wouldn’t mind it if he were to wind up on a different team:

Dwight Howard denies being unhappy on Rockets

Dwight Howard was not happy. The issue that got under his skin, however, was not with his role in the Rockets offense, but with a report on Tuesday that he was “extremely unhappy” in Houston and predicted that he would be traded to the Miami Heat.

Howard called the report “lies” and said he has never expressed any dissatisfaction with his role.

“I haven’t said anything to anybody about anything,” Howard said. “People make up lies and rumors. That’s never been my focus. I’m trying to get these guys to play better and get myself to play better.”

James Harden calls Kobe Bryant a legend

Saturday night in Houston the Rockets (just 11-12 this season) host Kobe Bryant and the Los Angeles Lakers (an NBA second-worst 3-20). Unless something crazy happens, this will be Kobe Bryant’s final season in the league. Here’s the Houston Chronicle reporting:

james harden

“Obviously, we know the game is extra hyped because of Bean,” Rockets guard James Harden said. “We still have to go out and win the game and focus on what we have to do.

“He’s somebody I watched growing up since I was little. This is his 20th year. I’m just 26 years old. He’s been playing a long time. Obviously, you definitely want to win the game. That competitive nature, going against him, no matter how old he is, he still has the competitive nature. He still wants to go out there and compete at a high level. I’ll definitely take advantage of it and cherish it.

“He’s a legend, not just here but every arena you go to on the road, games are sold out, ticket prices are going up to see a legend in his last year.”

Dallas Mavericks head coach Rick Carlisle thinks it’s absurd that the Houston Rockets have fired head coach Kevin McHale. Here’s the Dallas Morning News reporting:

rick carlisle

Rick Carlisle, who played with McHale in Boston and has been friends with him ever since, didn’t mince words about the Rockets’ move.

“It’s preposterous,” he said. “It’s beyond belief. I’m really shocked. It’s just hard to believe that something could happen at this stage to a guy who took a team unexpectedly to the conference finals last year. To have this happen after just 11 games is just preposterous. Nobody expects this. It’s very disappointing to hear. But Kevin will be fine. There will be a lot of people wanting to hire him. I can tell you that.”

Report: Kevin McHale fired by Rockets

Report: Rockets fire Kevin McHale

When a team with the exact same core of players that has proven to be successful in the very recent past under a certain coach stops performing up to expectations, what often happens?

The head coach gets fired, that’s what.

And that’s what is going down with the Houston Rockets, who are off to a 4-7 start and have reportedly fired head coach Kevin McHale, per a Yahoo Sports report.

McHale delivered the Rockets to the Western Conference Finals a year ago, but four straight blowout losses and a roster struggling to respond with effort pushed the organization to make a move to salvage what had been expected to be a season of championship contention.

Only 11 games into the season, the move reflects owner Leslie Alexander’s seriousness about winning within the present window with James Harden and Dwight Howard. Alexander and management, including executives Daryl Morey and Gersson Rosas, made the decision on Tuesday to replace McHale, league sources said.

McHale signed a three-year contract extension a year ago and is owed approximately $12 million.

A look at Rockets player shooting percentages this season is alarming: James Harden 37.2%, Trevor Ariza 33.6%, newly-acquired guard Ty Lawson 33.3%, Patrick Beverley 34.2%, Corey Brewer 29.9%.

Even worse, the team’s quality of play so far has actually appeared worse than their 4-7 record would suggest. The Rockets have been one of the lowest-rated squads in the league this short season both offensively and defensively per 100 possessions.

And per the Washington Post:

The symbol of Houston’s disastrous start has been Ty Lawson, a mercurial point guard the Rockets dealt for this summer after a tumultuous prior 12 months with the Denver Nuggets. Lawson – the player who organized Tuesday’s players-only meeting – has been awful thus far, averaging just 8.9 points and 5.6 assists while shooting 33.3 percent overall and 27.3 percent from three-point range. The combination of two ball-dominant guards in Lawson and James Harden, last year’s league MVP runner-up, has made for an awkward pairing.

The Rockets certainly have the roster needed to bounce back. But if it happens, it’ll be under new leadership.

Houston Rockets point guard Ty Lawson is averaging a modest 10.5 points and 5.6 assists per game as he continues to develop chemistry with his new teammates. Here’s the Denver Postreporting on Lawson and his former team, the Nuggets:

Ty Lawson says he appreciated his time with Nuggets

Ty Lawson was trying out a product in his future while talking about the past. He was sitting in one of the baseline seats at the Pepsi Center, in Houston Rockets garb, with his new business venture on his feet — a pair of big slippers called Sleekers, which are due out later this month.

“It’s a little different, coming through here seven years, just coming back,” he said after Rockets shootaround Friday morning.

Lawson makes his Denver debut in a different uniform in the Nuggets game against Houston. It is the first time he’ll take the Pepsi Center court as anything other than a Nugget, which he was for six seasons.

“It was pretty great,” said Lawson of his time with the Nuggets. “I had a good couple of years here. This team gave me my first opportunity and chance. So I have nothing bad to say.”

Rockets defense not up to par

Here’s the Houston Chronicle reporting on the Rockets, who are off to a disappointing 4-4 start:

Last season, the Rockets were the NBA’s sixth-rated defensive team, allowing 100.5 points per 100 possessions and were considerably better when Dwight Howard played.

Through eight games this season, they rank 27th, allowing six more points per 100 possessions with opponents making 47.1 percent of their shots, the third-worst field goal percentage defense in the league.

The problem, they said, was made clear when the low-scoring and previously winless Nets burned them for 106 points on Wednesday.

“Effort and rebounding,” Rockets coach Kevin McHale said of the primary issues. “We have not been very good defensively.”

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