Monday, August 6, 2007

Skip Celebrates His Impending Departure A Little Too Much

According to the Houston Chronicle, Rafer Alston was arrested early Sunday morning in downtown Houston (typical) for public intoxication and assault. (Come on this is downtown H-town, everybody is publicly drunk)

"We are aware of the situation and are attempting to get more details about the incident," Rockets GM Daryl Morey said. "While we do not have all the facts yet, it is nevertheless very disappointing to have one of our players involved with any police activity. We will continue working with the authorities in order to get to the bottom of the situation."

Translation: If "Skip to my next team" wasn't already on his way out (after the recent point guard additions of Mike James, Aaron Brooks, and Steve Francis), then this latest incident infinitely sealed his impending departing.

Alston's been a forgotten man for the last few months after the Rockets first round loss to the Utah Jazz. He was somewhat abused in most games by second-year guard Deron Williams, and the Rockets need for an upgrade at the 1 was as evident as ever.
Add to his season-long inconsistency and it was clear he was inching close to David Carr status. (And folks, you don't want to enter that territory here in Clutch City)

After the season ended, the Rockets traded aging forward Juwan Howard to the Wolves for Mike James; the thought being that James could spell Skip off the bench and possibly take over the point at the end of games.

Then the team took the speedy Aaron Brooks out of Oregon with the 26th pick in the draft; it became ever more clear that Rafer was no longer the long term answer as Houston's pg.

The final blow came when the franchise welcomed back its former "Franchise" and signed Steve Francis, who, even not 100% is a better guard than Rafer will ever be; it became 3 o'clock-in-mid-July clear that there was no longer any room left for Skip to my Lou. We hardly knew ya.

Lost in translation is the fact that for a considerable number of stretches, Rafer Alston was a solid, competent point guard in a conference (hell, a division) that punishes those who lack such. He was an underrated defender, a B+ passer, and a sometimes reliable open shooter. His biggest problem: he was a point guard playing under Jeff Van Gundy, who absolutely kills pgs. Name one point guard who has thrived under Van Gundy. Charlie Ward? Chris Childs? Mark Jackson? Didn't think so. If Van Gundy was still employed in Houston, Brooks would be in Phoenix and Francis damn sure wouldn't have thought once about returning to the city. Maybe JVG wasn't that much of a problem to Skip.

But Van Gundy supported Rafer and at the same time held him back. He refused to allow him to create his own offense when he had become famous to the whole world for doing just that. He refused to allow him to run the team when at the same time he was being abused by the point guards who had that free reign to abuse. (Ever noticed how the Rockets' defense goes Grizzlies on us when they play New Orleans? Chris Paul absolutely kills Skip and there's nothing we can do about it.) And to add fuel to the fire, Van Gundy left him out to dry. He played him 36 minutes a game when it was clear he wasn't (and never was going to be) accustomed to being out there that long.

So it has come to this. Just two years after he was signed to be the solid pg we needed, Rafer Alston is all but gone from Houston. Let's just hope he ends up somewhere he is allowed to be Skip. Hey, Jason Williams is hurt. Miami needs another erratic, inconsistent, playground pg. Give us Udonis Haslem, Pat. Besides, we need to get rid of one less point guard.

But you may need to lift that ban on South Beach, we hear Rafer likes to celebrate a little harder than others.

No comments: