Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Houston Rockets: Firing McHale is putting a band-aid on the cancer (But it might help)

Yahoo! News' excellent NBA reporter, Adrian Wojnarowski, broke the news today:

Rockets part ways with coach Kevin McHale. Adrian Wojnarowski, Yahoo! Sports

After struggling to a 4-7 start to the season, the Houston Rockets parted ways with coach Kevin McHale on Wednesday morning, league sources told Yahoo Sports.

Leaving the Houston Chronicle Rockets beat reporters to try and provide "additional details" in order to appear as if they're providing something:

Rockets fire Kevin McHale. Reid Laymance.

The Rockets decided that McHale, who coached the team to the Western Conference finals last season, had lost the locker room and the team didn’t want to fall farther behind in the West, a person familiar with the team’s thinking said.

As is often the case in Chron "breaking" sports stories, the comments of the story are more revealing than the article itself.

  • BosVas Guest

  • @eldorado1952
    Yeah, what Curiostom2 said. Ty Lawson said that McHale would call in a defensive play and the players would ignore it and do something else. That means that McHale lost his player's respect.

    While the Rocket's issues go far deeper than McHale, it appears that his firing was the only direction the team could go after starting the season 4-7, which included four straight, blowout, losses where the team looked horrible.

    While this feels like a Band-Aid on the cancer, it might have some, short-term, benefit.  The overriding problem is that the Rockets' current roster is underperforming, lacks focus, and might not be everything that it was last year.

    James Harden - My biggest complaint about Harden is that he is a one side of the court player. He frequently gets mocked for his lack of defense and he's known more, this year, for being a bit-player in the Kardashian drama than he is for playing good basketball. Last year Harden was a legitimate MVP contender, this year he's not even playing well enough to garner consideration for sixth-man of the year. Even those players are expected to bring offense.

    Ty Lawson - Lawson was heralded as the point guard the Rockets were missing. Instead he's been a low effort guy with poor shooting who appears to have been a driving force in the locker room against McHale. Prior to his time with the Rockets, Lawson was the best player on bad teams. It's very rare that players like that add much to good teams since they are accustomed to losing often.

    Trevor Ariza - To date, his most significant contribution to the team is to repeatedly say that the team needs to try harder while showing no evidence that he is doing so himself. Last year he was a key cog in a team that made a deep playoff run. This year he's a below average 3-point shooter who is also a low-effort guy.

    Corey Brewer - Brewer got paid in the off-season and he's playing like a player who has lost his drive.  Again, I think he has talent but the effort isn't there.

    And finally, the area of biggest concern....

    Dwight Howard - There are signs that Howard is not playing bad because of poor effort, but because his injuries are catching up to him. Of all the players on this list Howard is the most concerning. Because it doesn't appear what's ailing his game can be fixed with just more effort. Howard looks slow, lumbering, and out-of-sorts on the court and observers are worried that it's due to his many injuries. Howard has never been a high-motor guy, but as a low-motor center who's already limited offensively and who's body is starting to show severe signs that the tires are balding there's real cause for concern here.

    New interim head coach J.B. Bickerstaff has been handed a job with a flawed roster whose stars are either distracted (Harden) or possibly at the end of their career (Howard). All in all it's a team that doesn't seem to have any focus, or drive to play a complete game.

    Still, the Rockets are only 11 games in to a 82 game season so there's a possibility that things can turn around. Getting the players to run the plays the coach calls would be a marked improvement, and signs that firing McHale was the right thing to do.

    Still, with this roster of low-motor players there needs to be some questions resurfacing as to the personnel decisions being made by GM Darryl Morey.  Last year it appeared that his plan was sound and that all of the naysayers (raises hand) were making accusations not based on reality.  Even I turned around and stated that he had done a great job building last year's roster, that the team was playing great ball, had gelled, and that good things were in the future.

    This year, unlike prior years, I still think Morey has the right plan. I think the Rockets have the talent in place to make a playoff run but the one thing that neither Morey, or Bickerstaff, is going to be able to give them is drive. Last year they seemed to find it, but that team is a distant memory.

    If the Rockets can find their drive, and if Howard's body is not as deteriorated as I fear, if Harden can remember that he's a basketball player first (and can survive the Kardashian athlete curse) then I think the Rockets can turn it around.

    If not?  Well then we're back to "In Morey we Trust" as the GM will have to start the rebuilding process all over again because the window slammed shut on the current group faster than expected. What Houston is hoping to avoid is deja vu all over again, as we've recently seen how fast things can fall apart with the 2012/2013 Houston Texans.

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