Monday, October 1, 2007
Time To Play Fantasy GM
It's the first of the month, people (Wake up, wake up, wake up), which means NBA training camps have officially started.
The Rockets opened up camp today in Austin, with some new news to spread. The team resigned 41-year-old center Dikembe Mutombo to a 1-year deal today and signed second round pick Carl Landry.
Mutombo and Landry make 21 players headed into camp, with 16 of them with guaranteed contracts. Obviously, GM Daryl Morey stole the idea from Bryan Colangelo to invite as many players as possible to camp and make them tryout for spots on the team. (What is this, high school?)
This worries me a little (and I mean a little. There are a plethora of teams that wished they had the number of quality players we do) for a couple of reasons:
1. Lack of chemistry -- Having that many guys on the team may sound good on paper when looking at the many options it offers, but, realistically, you can't ask 21 guys (with that number being cut to 15 before the season starts) to gel in three weeks. Add to the fact that a few players in camp actually have the same exact game (ex: Mike Harris/Carl Landry/Chuck Hayes; Luther Head/Mike James; Aaron Brooks/John Lucas III; Justin Reed/Shane Battier) and the Rockets are guaranteed to have some serious chemistry issues this month.
Lack of excess cash to throw around -- As I already mentioned, we have 16 players with guaranteed contracts and $31 million already tied into T-Mac and Yao this season. The rest of the team, outside of the $5 million owed to Battier, have cheap salaries for the most part, but with so many players on the team, those cheap salaries start to add up.
All this means that it's time for Morey and Rick Adelman to shape up this roster as quickly as possible. And who better to aide in the shape up of the Houston Rockets roster than your resident Rockets fanatic, yours truly.
Let's start with the players who are a lock to make the team:
Yao Ming -- Let's see, he's easily the best center in the league, Houston's franchise player (sorry, Mac. You too, Steve), and would have been a top MVP candidate had it not been for a toe injury that sidelined him for 34 games. If he plays well in camp, there might just be a starting spot waiting for him this season. Of course, he's going to miss a part of camp to attend the Special Olympics. Go figure.
Tracy McGrady -- Hopefully, young Lazy Eye is fully healed (or at least close to it) from that whole chronic back problem thing. I have a lot riding on that back this season. Of course, I don't know if I should be worried or enthused that he's traveling all the way to Africa.
Steve Francis -- Another young (old?) man that could be the reason we're planning a downtown parade or calling for Adelman's head in May. I would be very worried if he doesn't beat out Rafer "Slash To My Lou" Alston, Mike "Who" James, and rookie Aaron Brooks for the starting point guard position. Of course, like everyone else in basketball does when things go wrong, I'll just blame Isiah Thomas.
Shane Battier -- I put Shane after Francis for the simple fact that Battier's game and contract are so league-friendly that he'll always end up in loads of trade rumors, and it's not even his fault. I see him furthering his role as "the token glue guy who is the key to so many wins" this year.
Luis Scola -- If you want to gauge how excited I am to have Scola in a Rockets uniform, know this: I secretly smiled with pleasure as he won the MVP award in the TOA's, even though LeBron and Carmelo got absolutely robbed. (Note: There's no changing my mind on that.)
Aaron Brooks -- As I've previously wrote, I truly believe that Brooks is one of the most important pickups in recent franchise history, if only because he's the rare late first-round pick that can contribute immediately off the bench yet still be primed to carry the torch for the future (think Tony Parker and Sam Cassell before the Rockets pulled off that idiotic 4-for-1 Charles Barkley deal in 1996. I still haven't gotten over that shit). He would have been a slight favorite to start had Francis not come back.
Bonzi Wells -- As is the case with the Bonz, he's one emotional meltdown from being a total non-factor this year....and he could be the catalyst for a championship. Only he knows, which scares me.
Kirk Snyder -- It absolutely baffles me that Snyder isn't a prime member of this team. He's the Glue Guy 1.5 version of Shane Battier. He's athletic as hell, has a fairly consistent shot, gets to the line when he's in the game, can post up smaller guards, drive past slower forwards, and defends. These are rare qualities in the 3rd or 4th guy off the bench. He needs to get a lot more minutes, especially after we get rid of....
Mike James -- Almost forgot about you, Mike. Maybe it's because you stunk it up in Minnesota last season, or maybe it's the fact that you really don't have a defined position. Wait, I know why, it's because you're going to be eating up Aaron Brooks' minutes because you're older. I hate you. Just kidding (kinda). James can defend the perimeter and knock down shots, even if those are his only meaningful assets.
Luther Head -- Lu Head (note: I think that should be his permanent nickname from now on) has been the forgotten man this offseason, even though he helped submarine our chances of beating Utah in that Game 7 (shit, actually the whole series) and got exposed for being an undersized 2 that can't create his own shot or make plays for others and freezes up in big moments (you know, like the '05 title game against North Carolina). But besides that, he's cool. I say shop him around the league and hope for a late first-rounder/second-round pick.
Jackie Butler -- I was extremely elated to see his name get included in that Scola deal. He's a big bruiser, decent rebounder, and he'll act as the enforcer/backup to Yao.
Chuck Hayes -- As Yoda from Star Wars would say, "Back to the bench, you go." Or something like that. Chucky had no business ever starting for the Rockets, just like the Rockets had no business ever expecting anything substantially efficient from him. Another glue guy, though. He reminds me of a nicer Cliff Levingston. You know, the guy they show in the Jordan highlights on the bench saying, "He. Is. Hot. Whooo!"
Steve Novak -- The Spurs have Brent Barry, we have Novak. Sure, he'll never see the light of day in Adelman's system, but we still have him.
Dikembe Mutombo -- Old man river returns again. Why? Beats me. Adelman's style is quick and fast-paced, and Dik is 41. I repeat, Dik is 41. Put it this way: he looked super slow in Jeff Van Gundy's style of play.
Mike Harris/Carl Landry/Justin Reed -- I don't see the need for any one of these dudes, truthfully. They're all undersized 4's with no offensive game whatsoever. Tell you what, just pick one of these three and move on. Neither one has any shot of stepping foot on the court this year. I guess this is the wrong time to mention the Rockets paid $1 million in that Sonics trade to get the pick that they ultimately took Landry with.
Rafer Alston -- The only, I repeat, only, reason Skip is still employed in Houston is because he single-handedly killed his own trade value by getting arrested twice in the span of three weeks. Even Mike Tyson is embarrassed. O.J. is shaking his head at you, Skip. If you want to know how I really feel, read and read.
That would give the Rockets a roster that looks like this (at least when the regular season starts):
C - Yao Ming
F - Luis Scola
F - Shane Battier
G - Tracy McGrady
G - Steve Francis
G - Mike James
G - Aaron Brooks
G/F - Bonzi Wells
G/F - Kirk Snyder
F - Chuck Hayes
F - Steve Novak
F - Mike Harris/Carl Landry/Justin Reed
C - Dikembe Mutombo
C - Jackie Butler
G - Luther Head
G - Rafer Alston
After a few trades here and there, the roster top to bottom should be just about right. And if Morey needs a fantasy GM to pull off those trades to, he knows where to find me.