Mar 9, 2014; Houston, TX, USA; Houston Rockets small forward Chandler Parsons (25) speaks to his team during the fourth quarter against the Portland Trail Blazers at Toyota Center. Mandatory Credit: Andrew Richardson-USA TODAY Sports

Houston Rockets: Saying No To A “Big 3″

Houston Rockets: Saying No To A “Big 3″

Since the end of the trade deadline, and continuing into NBA off-season, the talk in Houston has been of adding a third star to the Houston Rockets. Depending on who you talk to, that third star always changes.

Whether it be Boston Celtics point guard Rajon Rondo, New York Knicks small forward Carmelo Anthony or Minnesota Timberwolves power forward Kevin Love you can’t go wrong with who you choose  Either one of these guys can take your franchise to the next level, and adding them with two other dynamic stars in James Harden and Dwight Howard just makes things even more lethal.

Dec 26, 2012; Minneapolis, MN, USA; Minnesota Timberwolves point guard Luke Ridnour (13) looks to pass against Houston Rockets point guard Jeremy Lin (7) and center Omer Asik (3) during the first quarter at Target Center. Mandatory Credit: Greg Smith-USA TODAY Sports

Houston Rockets general manager Daryl Morey has not been shy about his lust for adding a third star to the duo of Harden and Howard. History also tells us that he isn’t shy about making the necessary moves and deals to land said star, however, the question remains; what if the Rockets don’t need a “Big 3″?

I know “you need a third star to win in the Western Conference” or at least that’s the notion. However, the Rockets problems wasn’t scoring in the playoffs, it was depth. Watching the Portland/Houston series the only bench players that were used outside of Jeremy Lin and Omer Asik was rookie Troy Daniels (who played in the Developmental League throughout the season).

It’s easy to point the finger at Rockets head coach Kevin Mchale and say he was the problem solely, but watching the Rockets this season here is some perspective. Asik missed half the season partly because he was disgruntled and also because he was injured.

Lin was well…Lin. Some games he looked like he had turned the corner, and was that reliable 6th man Rockets need. Other time there were those games where you just lost all faith in him, and wanted him traded immediately after. Outside of those two guys (who’s contract both equal close to 30 million to come off the bench), who was a constant?

A lot of fans remember the Francisco Garcia from two years ago in the Oklahoma City playoff series where he surprised everyone with his defense on Kevin Durant, and his three point shooting. I admit I thought Garcia was going to be key in this years’ Rockets run, but his three point shooting was average this year and that’s his only value.

Omri Casspi was great earlier in the season, and seemed like the role player that the Rockets needed. Then something just went wrong during the season, and his game went with it.

Aaron Brooks was here and that was great, but his annual trade came up and he was sent to the Denver Nuggets for Jordan Hamilton and more playing time. Hamilton had some flashes, but after April didn’t see the floor I still can’t explain this one.

Donatas Motiejūnas has never gotten over the hump as being anything more than a role player, and hasn’t added much to his arsenal since being drafted.  

The other 3 players were up and down throughout the regular season, and we all know the legend of Troy Daniels.

So in theory; who could Kevin McHale really trust when it mattered most if none of these players came through for him consistently when needed less?

James Harden was quoted a few days ago stating that the team shouldn’t sell out for a third star, rather strengthen the bench. I am inclined to agree with him, trading for a star would most likely require Asik, Lin, first round pick(s) and either Parsons or Jones. Either way you giving up two key players from your bench, and a vital piece to your starting lineup for virtually one player (Love who can opt out of his deal, if he doesn’t like the situation).

Is the gamble for a third star really necessary? You’re not that far away from a deep playoff run, and potential final appearance. Why not strengthen your bench, add some vets that can contribute consistently and upgrade the defense? Why after one season with a team with new faces blow it all up without seeing their true potential together?

Rome wasn’t built in one day, and neither are championship teams. It takes pain, struggle, fire, chemistry and talent to win that coveted Larry O’ Brien trophy. The Rockets aren’t that far off. They just need to fix a few kinks in the armor.

Tags: Dwight Howard Houston Rockets James Harden

  • imroxfan

    Houston Rockets:

    2012-13: One ‘superstar’ = first run exit
    2013-14: Two ‘superstar’ = first run exit
    2014-15: Three ‘superstar’ but without Jeremy Lin= first run exit

    Don’t believe? Look at the Knicks. Actually Houston is worse than Knicks:
    1. Knicks have only 1 SELFISH superstar who play little defense
    2. Regardless who is the 3rd future superstar is to be added; Rockets have at least 2 SELFISH superstars. One of them plays absolutely ZERO defense and the other does not know how to shoot free throws.

    Note last night Spurs lost game #2 to the Heat bcoz of 4 consecutive missed free throws in the 4th qtr.

    • Taylor

      caps lock makes inane points more valid. TRUTH.

    • Leo

      Well said.

  • Josh Landers

    Who were the members of the bulls’ big 3? Jordan, pippen, and…? How about the spurs? Duncan, Parker, and…? The lakers? Kobe, shaq, and…? You’re right. I’ve been saying this for a long time. The starting 5 is fine. Beverly, harden, parsons, jones, and Howard make a solid starting 5 and they’re still young with room to grow. Get some solid bench guys so you don’t need them to be in the game to play d and score points and you have the makings of a championship team. I don’t know who decided that a big 3 is the only way to get a ring but I don’t buy it.

    • Robert W

      I’m inclined to agree that big 3 is not needed, and your lineup is reasonable. However the if you look at your example of the 3 teams, what they have are 2 great coaches, in Pop and the Zen master. There is no way in the basketball universe that you can compare McHale to these two. In fact, if you give the same Bulls or Lakers team to McHale, I would bet that they would loose.

      • Josh Landers

        That’s right but pj and pop haven’t won every championship and most of the other teams didn’t have a big 3 either. I think they have a better chance with a good bench and the current 5 than a big 3 and a bench full of benchwarmers.

        • Robert W

          Let’s say you have the current 5 with a good bench similar to SAS, how do you fix the coaching issue? If I recalled correctly, McHale is one of those coaches who does not like in-game adjustments. I also think his utilization of the bench during the Blazers series was atrocious. You could see that all of his starters were pretty tired during the second half.

          • Josh Landers

            Mchale may not be the answer at head coach. I suppose of like to see what happens if morey loads the bench up. If the talent is there and there’s no deep run I would say its time for Mchale to go. If 90% of my bench players sucked I think I would have a hard time taking my starters out in the playoffs too. But it could just fall on poor coaching more than lack of talent. Either way, you can’t get a ring without at least a little help from your bench.

          • Robert W

            I think the bench sucking is part of the coaching issue. If during the regular season you’re not giving them ample time to develop they’re not going to be much good to you during the playoffs. As well, if you over played your starters during the regular season, they’re in burnout mold during the playoffs. Certainly you will get more wins as in the case of the Rockets, but comes playoff, the team that is able to balance it all, eg SAS, you do better down the stretch.

          • jcsantos

            Van Gundy claimed the Rockets bench are capable of being starters on other teams, which is also an indirect praise to Morey’s acquisition of talents for the team. Their minimal development throughout the season leading to virtually zero use in the playoffs shows the extent of McHale’s coaching “expertise” or lack thereof. Note that even when they do get minutes, Harden still acts as the team PG and handles the ball majority of the game while most just stand around without doing anything else on offense while trying to compensate for his non-existent D.

            McHale has NO balls to control Harden, as shown in a couple of plays wherein Harden demanded the ball and Lin just passed it to him. McHale scolded Lin for not following the play but said NOTHING against Harden.

          • Mike

            Because Harden saved us time and time again, and was key to bringing Dwight in.

            Lin’s a d-leaguer/NBA coaches nightmare. Has the worst fans who are entirely responsible for his downfall. If you guys never talked him up, he would have never fell.

          • Denzel Boksingero

            Ask Mike DAntoni if Lin was a nightmare to him. lol.

            I’m a Lin fan and you’re a Lin hater, but we can still use facts to argue our point. You have zero fact to support your argument.

          • jcsantos

            So hard to see how Harden “saves” the team when he almost always allows his assignments CAREER NIGHTS when playing against him. He may score 30+ points in a game (which should be EASY when you have 80% of all Rockets possessions) when the guy he’s on would also contribute the same or even greater stats.

            You call Lin a “D-Leaguer” and a “coach’s nightmare”? What’s your basis? His supposedly high TO rate (at 2.5???)? His poor attitude towards McHale (which must make Asik look like a saint) despite strictly following his instructions all season long to stay as a spot-up 3-point shooter?

            On the contrary, his stats showed contributed to 10% of team points and 24% of team assists DESPITE being a BENCH player who played only TWO QUARTERS worth of mins per game and even MINIMAL possessions allowed when he does get to play. Wonder how Rockets ball movement will be when he leaves, especially when they are ONE rank away from the bottom-third in team assists per game.

            Of course, if you believe this kind of selfish ballhog mentality should be the permanent staple of Rockets offense, then we can slide this as difference of opinion, something I don’t want to bother exerting effort to arguing with.

    • Taylor

      Paul, Garnett, Rondo. Parker, Duncan, Manu. Jordan, Pippen, Grant. Jordan, Pippen, Rodman. Arguably… Kobe, Gasol, Artest.

  • Zeno

    Rockets need a more reliable option at the 4. Trade ask for Millsap, Atlanta can move horford to the 4 and Asik can man the middle. Then trade Lin for 2 solid role players. Anthony morrow is the 3rd best 3 point shooter great pick up in free agency. Maybe NY trades shump?

    • Mike

      Milsap is a cap killer. Would need too much after he killed the cap space.

      Shump is too young. Need vets.

      • Taylor

        I wouldn’t say 9.5M is a cap killer for the kinds of numbers he puts out. I’d actually say he’s kind of a steal at that amount. He’s got a great post game, pretty good mid range shot, he’s not a slouch on defense, he rebounds well, he attacks the basket well. If you could straight up trade Asik for Millsap, do it in a heart beat.

        • Leo

          Didn’t you just made a comment above 5-2? How dare you now suggesting making a trade with Asik?

          • Taylor

            How dare I? What’s your deal? I can ignore the strange grammar, but what does that even mean? How dare I? Is this an affront to your person? It’s a conversation on the comments section of a sports blog. Might want to drop the tone a few octaves and get a grip on things.

            The comment above on 5-2 (which is funny in itself that we have to reference it like that), was in response to your exaggeration, “useless person,” which is statistically and factually inaccurate. If we want to dive deeper into the comments… you also made an anecdotal remark about Asik only being able to rebound when Dwight wasn’t on the floor. I’m not really sure how to go about this one. First, Asik didn’t play a significant portion of the season and when he did come back, he was slowly added back into the rotation as a replacement and rarely saw any playing time while Howard was in. They didn’t even bring back the “Twin Towers” lineup until the playoffs started and that was specifically to counter LMA’s insane opening games. At the beginning of the season when they employed the same lineup, both players dipped in the stats. In fact, the lineup as a whole suffered pretty greatly in % of available rebounds retained.

            Asik has value. In fact he has a lot of value, even at his ballooned 3rd year salary. Compare his numbers from 2 years ago when he first became a starter with the Rockets with any other starting center in the league and his numbers for paint defense, rim protection, and rebounding easily put him in top 5-10. The difference is, check out the comparable salaries/cap hits for those players he ranks up against. He’s a financial steal in the NBA for what he brings to the table. You don’t just trade away people that are useless and worthless. That’s a terrible business practice. You trade away people that are worth more now than what you paid for them, so your investment pays dividends. Paul Millsap is on a decent contract. Even at 9.5M, there’s only one more year iirc. He also plays the complimentary offensive schema that we desperately needed during the “Twin Towers” experiment, which is a mid-range shot. LMA would also be a perfect fit for this role. So yes… I’m suggesting making a trade with Asik. Trading a piece that we made more valuable by giving him the starting role for a full season after he’d been the backup in Chicago his whole career and getting in return more than what we initially invested into Asik. Stop being so emotional.

  • Leo

    Rockets need shooting guard and consistent three point shooters. Watching rockets game, none of the guys act like point guards or shooting guards, they are confused or misused in their roles. Sometimes, you see Jeremy Lin is a shooting guard and some times you see James harden act like point guard. Look at spurs, the way they play their game, if Tony park is in the game he handles the ball all the time and other people around him are just shooting or defense. Similarly, when Manu Ginobili is in the game while parker is not in the game, he handles the backup role of ball handling. Regardless whether Jeremy Lin is the point guard or backup point guard, I suggest when he is in the game let him do the real point guard role not shooting guard and stand at the corner wishing someone pass the ball to him and seldom happen that way.

    With all this said, Rocket got all the talents to be championship contender, however a lot talents either didn’t get used or misused. Who to blame for? Lack of knowledge of the coach and lack of confidence of the GM.

    Real stars except point guard needs the ball all the time. Only superstar needs the ball all the time at clutch time, and every other time he gets it will execute it well for the offense and scores it with high percentage.

    Because of lack of coaching knowledge, Mchale used a lot lineup during pre-season games but still couldn’t figure out the right lineup to use for same opponents. Isn’t that very sad to see? Learn something if Gregg Popvich.

    • Mike

      Come on, now. Lin sucks. Been two seasons of garbage since Linsanity. Let it go. He’s on the verge of playing himself out of the league. The more exposure, the more sad it gets. He’s been so bad, even Morey couldn’t trade him to start the season. And Morey was able to trade Royce White. Really let that sink in.

      Love isn’t better than Harden. If your disappointed with Harden, you’ll be even more pissed at Love. Being that he’s a front court player, his poor defense is absolutely, far more of a detriment to a team. Love had same level of talent with a better coach in Adelman, and still couldn’t carry them to at least the 8th seed as Harden did.

      Real NBA fans would know what you’re saying is ludicrous. You can tell you only read the headlines, and care little about the Rockets. You’re suggesting organization suicide, with a 50 ft. burial.

      • Denzel Boksingero

        Of the top 15 NBA players in drive attempts during the playoffs, Jeremy Lin had the highest FG percentage. Of the top 50 NBA players in drive attempts during the playoffs, Jeremy Lin was 4th in FG percentage. The Rockets dominated the Blazers when Lin was allowed to play PG. These facts contradict your assertion that Lin sucks.

        • Taylor

          source of these stats?

          • Leo

            If you don’t know how to look for those stats, you don’t even qualify to ask this question. Head over to NBA.com there is stats for each person and in detail and year in review. I cannot believe how dump to ask this question and dare to put comments.

          • Taylor

            I shouldn’t have to look for stats that someone is stating, they should be able to provide their numbers to backup their statement. You can’t just make a blanket statement and get defensive when asked to show your work or the evidence you’re quoting. They should be able to link me to where they’re coming up with said stat because it sounds dubious at best, misleading most likely, and just a lie at worst. The rockets were only in 6 games in the playoffs, does that number reflect all of the playoffs or just the first series? Lin’s numbers were not so hot outside of game 5, so I don’t know how those numbers could be factual at all without framing the sample to meet a manufactured conclusion. Also… get a better site for stats… I recommend basketball-reference… no one uses NBA.com

          • Leo

            Where is the stats when you say lin’s number is not good. By the I should not need to look for stats when someone is stating.

      • Leo

        Dude look at the stats before you make comments on my post. If Lin sucks, Harden is rocket killer, as long as Harden is in the rocket Houston will never win a title. A team will never win a title without playing team minded basketball.

        I am not saying Love is better scorer but Love is a better team player. Basketball is all about team work. If you don’t know, ask your elementary teacher.

        Harden carried the team to 8th seed first year in rocket because Jeremy Lin’s help, that shows Jeremy Lin is already better than what you said as “sucks”. You are contradict what are just said. Are you dump or fool? You are look smarter than my 6th month old son.

        There are a lot dump NBA fans just like you but there are also a lot smarter NBA fans just like me and Denzel below. I am only suggesting rocket to have a better coach and hire more team players. Look at Spurs, they are constantly at top of the playoffs because of team minded players and great team oriented coach. They makes their ball players look smarter ever. They make selfish players look as dump as you. Players who don’t look at their high percentage shoots and blindly takes shots are not team basketball players such as Harden and Carmelo.

        You are player but look to score as much as in each game to help team but you score as high percentage as you can to help the team win.

        Rocket need a point guard to facilitate the ball but not the let shooting guard facilitate the ball. If that’s the case, Harden better to be a point guard instead.

    • Taylor

      I feel like you’re great at NBA2k.

      1) what…

      2) ….. what…

      3) so drop harden and don’t pick up anthony and get love. because the wolves have made a lot of playoff runs with love as your offensive center piece.

      4) okay, so you’re a Lin homer. that makes sense.

      5) Chandler used to be almost entirely defensive minded. His rookie year when he took over the starting spot, people were talking about him almost exclusively for his defense (specifically his defense on Kevin Durant and Kobe Bryant.

      5-2?) Useless? He was arguably one of the best defensive centers in the league before last year. Do you know how amazingly useful it is to have him as your backup center? Second chance points was a huge issue with the Rockets… “only can rebound” is being completely naive to what he actually brings to the floor.

      6) So grow our defensive minded point guard into an offensive minded shooting guard.

      I feel like you haven’t really thought things through.

      • Leo

        1),2) Both players are selfish players or not good team players. We need to hire team players just like Spurs to contend and win title.

        3) Love is a least a team player. I know he needs to develop his skill of defend better but he is way better than selfish players who just look for his own shots. That’s called hero balls and the reason why Harden is not a super star but scores top 5 in the league. Do you know why? Let me tell you, he scores for himself not for the team to win.

        4) What’s wrong with that? He had a great moments and improving every year. Even though he is not a super star but to win a title you don’t need super star but team players.

        5) If Chandler is that great all year defensively, he would be able to guard Lillard for the three point shots. He clearly needs to improve his defensive end.

        5-2) If he is that good, he would be able get his trade during the season. Arguably means he is not a real good defensive centers. Hey, a player cannot dribble the ball, cannot score points well, the only thing he can do is defend. Even if he is the greatest defender, I am not buy into it. Everyone needs to be developed as two way players, but I just cannot see him can be developed to score balls. A lot of time, he cannot even hold the ball well.

        6) Players need to be developed as two way. One way cannot help to win a title.

        Before you commenting on me or anybody, please carefully think through yourself if you are smart enough to make judgements on other people.

        • Taylor

          1-2) the spurs run a methodical system that exploits defenses with pass rotations to an open man. it’s a great system. I don’t really understand where you’re coming from when you say “selfish.” It’s an over simplification of a players role on a team and commonly misused by people who don’t know what they’re talking about. James Harden’s WS/48 is 6th in the NBA last year and almost entirely comes from the offensive side of that calculation as his defense is lacking to put it lightly. The fact that he can almost completely ignore one half of the calculation and still rank in the top 10 speaks volumes to the efficiency he displays on offense. What you call selfish, I call his job. He’s an offensive powerhouse, he’s supposed to score, he’s supposed to be the number one option, he’s supposed to touch the ball on almost every possession. That’s how our offense works, that’s why we got him in the first place and signed him to a max contract. Because under the same statistic, he ranked 3rd in his last year with the Thunder. You can even go with Hollinger’s EWA and he still comes in 6th. You can look at his situational stats too. Check out his FG% and shooting stats when there is less than 3 minutes in the game and the point differential is <= 5. He arguably was one of the more clutch players this season, even though people continually complain about the ISO calls.

          3) This isn't a heartwarming high school story. Good team player? What the hell are you using to quantify that in any reasonably way? What does that even mean in a professional atmosphere? Love is a great stretch 4, who gets stats outside of that role because honestly there's no one else on that team to do anything for him. That's why they have yet to make the playoffs in any one of the seasons he has been playing. Kevin Love makes a great 3rd star on a team, he's a terrible #1 and I would say a middle of the road #2. I would love him to be on the Rockets, but only if Harden and Howard are here as well, otherwise his skill set is empty stats on a bottom tier, earlier playoff exit. Hero ball is just an emotionally charged hyperbole used to oversimplify. If you want to use arguments like that, then this conversation is fruitless for both sides.

          4) Aside from the abberation that was the Detroit Pistons, history would greatly disagree with that statement. He actually regressed quite a bit this year (and the year before) from his unattainable run with the Knicks. His 3pt shot is unpredictable, his defense is mediocre, and his main offensive weapon is redundant on this team. He's serviceable and a starter on a non-playoff bound team, but PGs are pretty easy to come by… Rockets should know, we've materialized several MIPs and starters year after year (Lowry, Dragic, Brooks, Beverly). It's been our most easily replaced position and I'm sure will be no different when Bev comes up for a contract year and we transition to Canaan or someone else that we discover on the cheap. Outside of the Detroit Pistons, name the last team to win a championship that didn't have a superstar on its starting 5? Hell, name the last team to win a conference finals that didn't have one?

          5) The last play was actually a blown call by the Rockets. Beverly and Chandler were supposed to switch when the separation move came and they didn't. The screw up allowed for the wide open shot. Judging a player solely on a single play is on par with anecdotal evidence.

          5-2) What? I don't know how to argue with your ideology of what makes a good basketball player. There has always been offensive heavy, defensive heavy players in the nba and quite a few on championship teams. Dennis Rodman comes to mind. Motumbo, Ben Wallace. I don't really care what you "buy into," it's simply a silly statement to make and pretty refutable with a simple glance at the history.

          6) Dennis Rodman, Ron Artest, Ron Harper come to mind on championship teams. Steve Nash, Kevin Martin, Jose Calderon, Stephon Marbury were all fairly offensive-only players. Same with Reggie Miller, Oscar Robertson, Calvin Murphy, Ray Allen.

          Okay?