Dallas Mavericks: Rivalry With Houston Rockets Just Got Even Better

First Dwight Howard, then Chandler Parsons. Now Jason Terry? This Dallas Mavericks-Houston Rockets rivalry has now become bigger and breathtakingly awesome. The Rockets made a trade over the weekend, acquiring the former Sixth Man of the Year who won a championship with Dallas in 2011, from the Sacramento Kings in exchange for Alonzo Gee and […]
Dallas Mavericks: Rivalry With Houston Rockets Just Got Even Better – Hoops Habit – Hoops Habit – Analysis, Opinion and Stats All About The NBA

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Houston Rockets’ PR Problems Won’t Overshadow Basketball Promise

It’s been a rough summer for the Houston Rockets

After whiffing in their pursuit of Chris Bosh, losing Chandler Parsons to the rival Dallas Mavericks and shipping off key rotation players Jeremy Lin and Omer Asik for no immediate return, the team’s image has taken a sizable hit.

General manager Daryl Morey was wildly successful over the past two offseasons, snatching up James Harden and Dwight Howard when few people thought either would leave their teams. Morey assembled a contender in what seemed like a snap of the fingers. But his coup was actually the result of years spent dedicated to firm, wise market principles.

Those principles are as intact as ever today. Though the Rockets lost more star power than they gained in recent months, Morey’s also maintained the shrewd financial flexibility that made his previous splashes possible.

By passing on Parsons’ exorbitant three-year, $46 million offer from Mark Cuban and the Mavs and not overcommitting to lesser options, the Rockets remain in the mix for coveted players down the line. From Yahoo! Sports’ Kelly Dwyer:

This is, as NBA fans know, Rocket general manager Daryl Morey’s style. He routinely spins forward assets in the hopes of pouncing on any available big fish, knowing that this is always a star-driven league. Once the Yao Ming/Tracy McGrady pairing finally wore down in 2009, Morey has constantly been reshuffling his team in the hopes that future carrots would lead to eventual chomps. The next trade deadline. The next draft. The next summer. Just before training camp. You just wait.

The recent reports of Rajon Rondo’s eagerness to leave the Boston Celtics are as a good a reminder of this as anything. ESPN’s Jackie MacMullan stated a strong belief that the prolific point is looking to get out. “It will happen because he’s told them he wants out, and no one believes me but that’s the truth,” MacMullan said

The Rockets are on a short list of teams that would be a good fit for Rondo. Trying to make the money work between Houston and Boston would be very difficult, especially given that Rondo has only one year left on his current deal. But if the Rockets had held onto Parsons, swapping for Rondo would’ve been all but unimaginable. 

And while the team will be hurt in the short term by losing the contributions of Lin and Asik, they’ve also dodged the bullet of basketball purgatory. If they’d retained both and made Parsons their top priority, the Rockets would’ve essentially committed to their current core as their definitive championship-seeking squad.

The notion that Houston—as constructed in 2013-14—is a true title contender is at best dubious. The historically tough nature of today’s Western Conference means the Rockets probably need major help before they can make it to the NBA Finals. Given the Mavericks’ offer, Parsons could only have remained put if he was paid like a third star—but Morey knew he wasn’t.

New Rockets wingman Trevor Ariza is an equivalent or arguably slightly worse player. Ariza is only behind Parsons in the categories of youth and shot creation—he’s demonstrably better as a defender and three-point shooter. But because Ariza wasn’t an unrestricted free agent like Parsons was, Morey was able to pay him market value. In other words, roughly half of what Dallas gave Parsons. Ariza’s making $32 million over four years on his new deal.

Ariza isn’t the popular, celebrated entity Parsons was. Just like newly important reserves Isaiah Canaan and Donatas Motiejunas (the likely heirs to Lin and Asik’s roles, respectively) aren’t getting any Rockets fans overwhelmingly excited. But everyone who’s not a superstar is a role player in Morey’s pocketbook—his actions say so, anyway—and all who aren’t world class are replaceable.

Therein lies the catch to modern Houston fandom. Loving players becomes difficult when all men are exchangable pieces in a championship-bound puzzle. No matter the impact of any Rocket, they’re all replaceable so long as the team’s bottom line leads then anywhere short of the Larry O’Brien Trophy.

For Rockets fans hoping for gold, this is good news, regardless of the present picture. Because with Morey, the larger perspective is smartly bent toward the very best.

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Report: Rockets to acquire Jason Terry from Kings

Sacramento Kings guard Jason Terry is set to fly again in Texas. Terry, whose nickname is “Jet,” won an NBA Championship with the Dallas Mavericks. He is coming back to the state of Texas, but this time will be with the Houston Rockets.Image by By Keith Allison, via Wikimedia CommonsNBA sources say that the Rockets will acquire Terry in a trade with the Kings:”The Rockets will also receive two second-round picks and send guard/forward Alonzo Gee to the Kings, along with at least one other non-guaranteed contract.”The 36 year old Terry started the 2013-14 season with the Brooklyn Nets, but averaged only 4.5 points in 35 games. He was traded to Sacramento at the trade deadline and didn’t play the rest of the season. According to some sources, he wasn’t happy about the trade and didn’t want to play long-term for the Kings. Prior to Brooklyn, Terry played for Boston after eight season with the Mavericks, where he was named the league’s Sixth Man of …

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Jason Terry Won’t Replace Jeremy Lin for Houston Rockets

Desperate times call for desperate measures, which helps to explain why the Houston Rockets have resorted to a 36-year-old sixth man who’s seen better days.

Yahoo Sports’ Adrian Wojnarowski reports that the, “Rockets have reached an agreement in principle to acquire Sacramento Kings guard Jason Terry, league sources told Yahoo Sports.”

The Rockets will send a package centered on non-guaranteed contracts, including Alonzo Gee, that the Kings can ultimately waive and gain salary savings and roster space, league sources said,” Wojnarowski adds. “Sacramento will send Houston two second-round picks in the deal, including one via the Knicks, league sources told Yahoo.”

For the record, the trade may take some time to go through.

The Houston Chronicle‘s Jonathan Feigen explains that, “The deal will take several weeks to complete and will include additional non-guaranteed contracts, likely either Josh Powell, Scotty Hopson or both.”

From Sacramento’s perspective, this is merely an attempt to cut costs and potentially open up another roster spot.

In July, The Sacramento Bee‘s Jason Jones noted, “The Kings still are looking to gain roster flexibility by trading one or more of their power forwards and possibly dealing guard Jason Terry, who has said he would prefer not to play in Sacramento.”

Indeed, Terry made it abundantly clear he wanted out of Sacramento ASAP.

“I wouldn’t say it’s rebuilding, but a building process,” Terry told ESPN Dallas 103.3 FM’s Fitzsimmons and Friedo Show in July, per ESPNDallas.com’s Bryan Gutierrez. “DeMarcus Cousins a huge talent. Attitude, a little shaky. Rudy Gay, not a proven winner in this league but a tremendous talent and a guy you can build around.”

They’re in transition right now. For me, at this point in my career, I want championships,” Terry added.

So it shouldn’t come as any surprise that Houston emerged as a natural trade partner. Even after losing restricted free agent Chandler Parsons to the Dallas Mavericks (and replacing him with Trevor Ariza), the Rockets are light-years closer to a title than the Kings.

But does the Jet’s landing in H-Town bring them any closer to one?

The 15-year veteran played only 35 games last season for the Brooklyn Nets, and the results weren’t especially reassuring. Terry averaged a career-low 4.5 points per contest and shot a career-worst 36.2 percent from the field.

If you’re in the business of making excuses, one might argue that Terry’s 16.3 minutes per contest weren’t nearly enough for him to develop a rhythm.

On the other hand, the absence of rhythm may have been precisely what precipitated the diminished playing time—and ultimately resulted in his trade to Sacramento. 

Houston Rockets general manager Daryl Morey is clearly betting that a change of scenery could elicit one more season of strong bench play from a guy who calls nearby Dallas home. 

Even under the best of circumstances, though, Terry probably won’t have any easy time replacing last season’s sixth man.

Morey and Co. traded Jeremy Lin to the Los Angeles Lakers this summer in a bid to carve out enough cap space to land another superstar—namely Chris Bosh.

In retrospect, the move appropriately encapsulates an offseason that didn’t go as planned. The loss of Parsons. Whiffing on premier free-agent targets like Bosh and Carmelo Anthony. Dealing away Lin and Omer Asik unnecessarily.

These Rockets have seen better days.

Acquiring Terry on the cheap is a noble attempt to make up some lost ground. More importantly, it’s a low-risk venture that won’t cost the organization much in terms of assets. By almost any metric, this is a wise move.

It’s just not nearly enough.

Though some bemoaned the fact that Lin never rose to superstar heights in his two seasons with the Rockets, he proved a valuable weapon whether starting or coming off the bench.

In his most recent campaign in Houston, the 26-year-old averaged 12.5 points and 4.1 assists in just 28.9 minutes per contest. The year before that—when he started all 82 games—Lin tallied 13.4 points and 6.1 assists per game. In both seasons, his shooting hovered around his career mark of 44 percent from the field.

Terry really hasn’t produced at that level since his 2011-12 season with the Dallas Mavericks, the last of eight go-arounds with the club.

It’s telling that the Mavs parted ways with such an integral part of their rotation, a key component of the franchise’s title run in 2011. If Dallas lost confidence in Terry then, why should we believe he still has anything left in the tank two years later?

Terry’s lone season with the Boston Celtics may offer some silver lining. In 2012-13, he averaged 10.1 points per game and made 43.4 percent of his field-goal attempts.

Even better, Terry has made at over 37 percent of his three-point attempts in each of the last three seasons—including that clunker in Brooklyn. By comparison, Lin’s best performance from beyond the three-point arc (35.8 percent) came last season with Houston.

But don’t get too carried away.

Lin is entering the prime of his career, plays solid defense and—most importantly—can run an offense without exclusively looking for his own shot. While Terry’s veteran presence should yield value on an otherwise youthful roster, Lin gave head coach Kevin McHale a legitimate floor general who could anchor the second unit and finish out close games.

At this point, Terry is little more than a three-point specialist. He won’t create much for others, and he won’t get stops.

He fills a narrow role, but he does little to stabilize a backcourt rotation that’s sorely lacking depth.

As USA Today‘s Jeff Zillgitt notes, “Terry likely will compete with second-year point guard Isaiah Canaan, shooting guard Troy Daniels and rookie combo guard Nick Johnson for minutes behind starting guards Patrick Beverley and James Harden.”

Put another way, Terry instantly becomes the most reliable option among arguably the most unproven platoon of reserve guards in the league.

Perhaps he can even rebound from last season’s precipitous decline.

NBCSports.com’s Brett Pollakoff speculates that, “He may not have been right physically, and taking the second half of last season off could help him regain his form, to where he can once again become a viable contributor off the bench.”

Either way, Terry upgrades a position of need.

Just don’t expect him to replace Jeremy Lin.

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AP Source: Rockets reach agreement for Terry

Person familiar with deal: Rockets reach agreement to trade for Terry

      
 

 

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Jason Terry to Rockets: Latest Trade Details, Comments and Reaction

Jason Terry, a 15-year NBA veteran and former Sixth Man of the Year award winner, reportedly will be traded from the Sacramento Kings to the Houston Rockets. If the deal is finalized, it will be the fifth team for the “Jet” in the last four seasons.    

Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports reported the deal on Sunday afternoon:

Though Terry didn’t post huge numbers for the Brooklyn Nets last season, he adds a veteran presence to any roster. The veteran guard tallied just 4.5 points, 1.1 rebounds and 1.6 assists in 16.3 minutes per game with the Nets in 35 games played during the 2013-14 season.

After the loss of Jeremy Lin to the Los Angeles Lakers, MoiseKapenda Bower of the Houston Chronicle offers his take on the deal:

With a cast of stars that includes both James Harden and Dwight Howard, adding an experienced player can only help the Rockets. Terry may not be as productive as he was in his prime, but he is still a quality backup who has a career 37.9 percent mark from three-point range.

Entering the twilight of his career, Terry spoke about wanting out of Sacramento earlier this offseason, per Jason Jones of The Sacramento Bee:

I wouldn’t say it’s rebuilding, but a building process. DeMarcus Cousins a huge talent. Attitude, a little shaky. Rudy Gay, not a proven winner in this league but a tremendous talent and a guy you can build around.

They’re in transition right now. For me, at this point in my career, I want championships.

Though he didn’t get the buyout that Jones noted he reportedly wanted, Terry does head to a team with championship aspirations.

And in a loaded Western Conference that includes the San Antonio Spurs and Oklahoma City Thunder, among other deep squads, having experience is crucial. Equipped with 93 playoff games played, Terry adds a voice to the lineup that can be an asset when the postseason begins.

Terry turns 37 on Sept. 15 and will enter his 16th season if he suits up for the Rockets. If he does officially join the team, expect his role off the court to be more important than what he does on it.

 

Follow @RCorySmith on Twitter.

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AP Source: Rockets reach agreement for Terry (Yahoo Sports)

A person with knowledge of the deal says the Houston Rockets will acquire guard Jason Terry in a trade with Sacramento. The Rockets will also receive two second-round draft picks and send guard/forward Alonzo Gee to the Kings, along with at least one other non-guaranteed contract. The 36-year-old Terry started last season with Brooklyn and averaged only 4.5 points in 35 games. He was traded to Sacramento at the trade deadline and didn’t play the rest of the season as he recovered from a left knee injury.

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Rockets land Terry in trade with Kings

In return, the Kings get Alonzo Gee and another player with a non-guaranteed contract.

      
 

 

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Report: Rockets get Jason Terry

After losing Jeremy Lin in an off-season trade with the Los Angeles Lakers and Chandler Parsons to free agency, the Houston Rockets have acquired veteran shooter Jason Terry. Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports first reported that Terry and a future second-round pick, will be sent to Houston in exchange for Alonzo Gee and a package […]

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Diagnosing Houston Rockets’ Remaining Roster Flaws

The Houston Rockets have a young and talented roster, but there is still plenty of room for improvement. 

By now, you might have heard that Houston’s offseason didn’t go quite as planned. The Rockets not only failed to add a third star to play with Dwight Howard and James Harden, but they lost some of last season’s key role players as well. 

Chandler Parsons, Jeremy Lin and Omer Asik will all be playing elsewhere next season. Making matters worse, both Parsons and Asik will playing for division rivals in Dallas and New Orleans, respectively. Meanwhile, Lin hopes to help the Los Angeles Lakers bounce back from last year’s disappointing season. 

This summer wasn’t a total bust for the Rockets.

They improved their biggest need by replacing Parsons with a solid perimeter defender in Trevor Ariza. Also, by refusing to match the Mavericks’ $46 million offer for Parsons as well as getting Lin and Asik off the books, Houston will have some nice cap space going forward. It also owns a protected first-round pick from the New Orleans Pelicans via the Asik trade. 

Regardless, the roster still has a few flaws that could hinder the team from matching last season’s 54-28 effort. 

 

Unproven Bench

The Rockets bench wasn’t perfect last season, but it was effective. When healthy, Asik gave the team a quality rebounder and rim protector. Lin had his moments as an offensive spark, playing both backup guard spots. Omri Casspi was a suitable stretch 4 who shot 34.7 percent from three.

Those guys are gone. In their place, there are a slew of young prospects with a ton of potential but not a lot of experience. Second-year man Isaiah Canaan will be replacing Lin as the backup point guard behind Patrick Beverley. Canaan showed off his knack for scoring the basketball in the Las Vegas Summer League, averaging 17 points in eight games. 

At the other reserve guard spot, last year’s playoff hero, Troy Daniels, will come in to give Harden a breather. In the little that Daniels has played, he’s established himself as a dangerous shooter. He shot 48 percent from behind the arc during the regular season and stepped that up to 53.3 percent in the postseason. 

Still, including playoffs, the Rockets’ new reserve backcourt has played a total of 31 games (nine for Daniels, 22 for Canaan). While both men have the potential to break out, there are going to be some growing pains, and that might be tough for a team determined to win now. 

After dominating the D-League last season, Robert Covington figures to be a part of the Rockets’ bench equation as well. Covington averaged 23.2 points, 9.2 rebounds and 2.4 steals for the Rio Grande Valley Vipers. He also won D-League Rookie of the Year honors.

At 6’9″, the former Tennessee State star can play either forward position. He has the size and prowess on the glass to hold his own at the 4, while also possessing the shooting touch to play on the perimeter. However, like Canaan and Daniels, Covington hasn’t spent much time in the pros, playing in just seven NBA games. 

Up front, Houston will be relying on former Rocket Joey Dorsey to replace Asik as the backup center. Dorsey has spent the last three seasons in Europe, where he established himself as an elite post defender. Can he keep that momentum going in the NBA?

Dorsey played in just 61 games over three seasons before he embarked on his journey overseas. Now he returns to the United States and will have to adjust to the heightened level of competition. At 6’8″ and 270 pounds, Dorsey has the strength to not get bullied inside, but he doesn’t possess ideal height. 

Even with his impressive resume in Europe, it’s asking a lot to expect him to fill in for Asik and have the team not miss a beat. 

There are few other new faces to keep an eye out for. Forward Jeff Adrien had a solid (albeit brief) stint with the Milwaukee Bucks last year. He contributed 10.9 points and 7.8 rebounds in 28 games (12 starts). 

The Rockets also have a trio of rookies who could see some playing time. First-round pick Clint Capela is an intriguing big man but is still very raw and will need time to get acclimated to the NBA after playing in Switzerland. Second-round pick Nick Johnson is an explosive athlete who could see time at either guard spot. 

Houston also brought over 24-year-old Greek forward Kostas Papanikolaou and gave him a two-year, $9.4 million contract. Like Capela, K-Pap has plenty of upside but zero experience. He’ll have to be brought along slowly. 

The bright side for Houston is that bench isn’t completely green. Francisco Garcia was re-signed to give the team a veteran shooter on the second unit. Also, Lithuanian big man Donatas Motiejunas will see time at power forward and center. 

D-Mo averaged 16.8 points and 8.1 rebounds in eight games during the Vegas Summer League. With added confidence and a defined role, this could be the year he lives up to his potential. 

Rockets general manager Daryl Morey acknowledged the problems facing his team’s bench but didn’t seem too concerned, according to this article by Houston Chronicle‘s Jonathan Feigen from July. 

“We obviously maybe have question marks at some of our bench positions, but I think last year we went into the season with question marks starting,” Morey said. “I feel good about the guys we brought in and their ability to step in across Canaan, Nick Johnson and Ish Smith and Troy Daniels. We just have a really good set of young players.”

The lack of a proven bench and overall inexperience could be troublesome for a team with championship aspirations. However, as Morey pointed out, there was uncertainty in the starting rotation last season, particularly at power forward and point guard. 

Eventually, Terrence Jones beat out Asik to be the starter at the 4 and went on to have a breakout season (12.1 points, 6.9 rebounds, 1.3 blocks). Likewise, Beverley beat out Lin to win the starting point guard gig and was later named to the NBA All-Defensive Second Team. 

If Morey hits on one or two of these prospects, be it Covington, Canaan, Daniels, Johnson or whoever, the Rockets will be set up nicely for this season and the future. However, it’s still a huge gamble to hitch your playoff hopes to a second unit filled with unproven youngsters, especially given the pressure on Houston to win now. 

 

Chemistry

In fairness, chemistry is going to be a problem for any team that spends the offseason trying to improve by shuffling the roster around. The Cleveland Cavaliers have chemistry issues with LeBron James and Kevin Love being added to the fold, and they are still the favorites to win the title this year, per Pro Basketball Talk’s Brett Pollakoff.

Still, it’s easier to build around the league’s best player and chase championships in the East than it is to stay afloat in a deep Western Conference with a roster constantly in a state of flux. Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban was critical of Houston’s (as well as other teams) approach on chemistry in a interview with KRLD 105.3 (h/t The Dallas Morning News for the quotes):

They just have a different understanding and approach to chemistry than we do. Some teams, and that’s not just the Rockets, just put together talent and the talent takes care of itself. We think chemistry matters.” Cuban said, when asked about Morey trying to trade for Dirk Nowitzki.

In his offseason report on the Rockets, CBSSports.com’s James Herbert echoed Cuban’s sentiments: “The Rockets also might have to worry about developing a reputation as an organization that doesn’t value chemistry or loyalty, always looking to acquire more talent.”

Again, chemistry will always come at the expense of trying to make your team better. It’s the price of doing business. However, guys like Morey (and, to a less successful extent, Pelicans GM Dell Demps) tend to go overboard with their incessant need to take a wrecking ball to everything they just spent the previous year building. 

Two years ago, Morey signed Asik and Lin. Now, they’re gone. Four of the team’s starting five from last year will return this season. Beyond that, only two players who played meaningful minutes for the Rockets last season (Garcia and Motiejunas) will be back again this year. 

As important as it is to put together the best talent, intangibles such as loyalty and chemistry are equally as crucial. It’s why an aging team like the San Antonio Spurs can contend for championships every year. A lack of chemistry was a key reason for the Indiana Pacers‘ second-half implosion last year. 

Yes, the Rockets will stay in the thick of things thanks to the presence of two of the league’s best players in Harden and Howard. On the other hand, neither Harden or Howard has been able to prove he can be a leader of men and make those around him better.

It certainly doesn’t help team chemistry when Harden says at a charity event in the Philippines, via The Philippine Star‘s Joaquin Henson, that he and Howard are the “cornerstones,” and everyone else are “role players or pieces that complete the team.”

You’re not going to inspire teammates by making them feel like they are beneath you. Harden and Howard’s talents will only get the team so far. For Houston to realize its potential, one of the two (or even both) will have to take a more serious approach to leadership and rally the troops around them. 

For the two summers prior to this one, Morey has done an excellent job of making noise with headline-grabbing moves. It has yet to work out the way he’s wanted though. A lack of roster continuity has to be a factor in that. 

This year, the team will have to work Ariza into the fold, and the team’s “cornerstones” will need to find a way to speed up a young bench’s growth process. Chemistry can be built in months or in years. It depends on the team, its leaders and its coaches. 

However, a lack of chemistry will continue to be an issue if those responsible for building it keep finding reasons to go back to the drawing board. 

Barring injury, the Rockets should still find themselves in the playoff picture. They’ll be hard-pressed to repeat as a top-four team in the West, but the trio of Harden, Howard and Ariza is good enough to keep Houston competitive. When you throw in Jones and Beverley, that’s a pretty formidable starting rotation.

The offseason may have been a disappointment, but it wasn’t a total failure. Defensively, they’ll be much better with Ariza helping Beverley out on the perimeter and Howard patrolling the paint. Offensively, they’ll continue to be one of the best offensive machines in the NBA. 

Furthermore, Houston has the cap space, prospects and future draft picks to make another move if necessary. Naturally, that won’t help the team’s growing chemistry problem, but it’s a nice feather to have in your cap. 

Turnovers will continue to be an obstacle with this team, especially with Harden and a slew of inexperienced reserves. As depleted as the roster looks on paper, the only real flaws facing this Rockets team are the intangibles. 

Harden and Howard must be more of a vocal presence in the locker room. The young players will have to master the learning curve quickly, and most importantly, they must become a cohesive unit. That might be a lot to ask for, but it’s Houston’s only hope of avoiding yet another disappointing end to its season. 

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