Former NFL running back Tiki Barber was once asked what it was like to be hit by a defensive player while running. He described it as running full speed into a brick wall. In some ways, that must be how it has felt the last five years or so for the Houston Rockets. They run at full speed, making themselves better along the way, only to hit a wall that looks like the Golden State Warriors.
And that has to hurt.
Thus, after another season derailed at the hands of Steph Curry, Klay Thompson, Draymond Green and a hobbled Kevin Durant, it is understandable that the Rockets would find themselves going through a period of internal crisis.
Their owner, known for his larger-than-life personality, has probably put his foot in his mouth a little more than even he would like lately. Their GM Daryl Morey fired much of the assistant coaching staff without consulting the head coach, Mike D'Antoni, whose agent is having a somewhat protracted fight over a new contract for his guy.
Then there are the reports of Chris Paul and James Harden feuding over the offense and who should ultimately be in control. Some of it is aging veteran struggling to adjust to a younger, MVP-caliber superstar in his prime. Some is competitive intensity spilling over on the court and in the locker room. Some is a need for a tweak in philosophy on the floor.
Rumors swirled that Paul wants out, something Morey shot down on Monday, denying the team would trade Paul and his massive contract in the offseason. He admitted they would continue to look for deals that could involve star-level talent, but would be happy to settle for the same squad with a quality rotation player nabbed with their mid-level exception.
They will need to considering they have no draft picks in this week's NBA Draft.
Still, with all the stories being written and tweets flung into the rumor mill, it's June, not October. In a month, all of this will have died down and the Rockets will likely be in about the same spot they were this past week. Paul will probably still be a Rocket. Their starting five will probably remain in place and maybe they will have brought back and even added a couple guys.
In addition, wherever Durant ends up, he won't play thanks to his torn achilles and Thompson will be on the shelf until spring with his torn ACL. Even with Anthony Davis going to the Lakers, there is no guarantee they will have what it takes to surround he and Lebron James with talent...or stay healthy.
It's June. A lot will happen in the next six months and a lot more won't. Expect the Rockets to eventually settle down and find their place among the elite in the Western Conference again come the start of next season and this time, perhaps without that wall staring them in the face.
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