So the Jeff Van Gundy era is over and we’re now mere hours away from watching Rick Adelmanassume the reins
of the Houston Rockets. Ironic, that after I spentan entire column
imploring general manager Daryl Morey to resist the temptation to pursue Lord Voldemort (aka Larry Brown), the Rockets were actually the ones who decided to dabble in the dark arts. Whether or not JVG deserved to go is certainly up for debate, but you can’t argue that this is a less than ideal start to Morey’s tenure as GM. The ham-handed and deceitful way this business was handled is not likely to engender much good will within the Houston organization and no doubt the rest of the NBA is probably snickering at Morey’s rookie mistake as well. True, this move has owner Les Alexander’s fingerprints all over it. But Morey is the one left to answer the tough questions and it’s his reputation that receives the hit. My entire argument against chasing a guy like Larry Brown was that doing business with the devil eventually gets you burned. Now, it will be interesting to see whether or not the Rockets ultimately pay for their transgressions.
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As for Adelman, the expectation is that we can expect to see a little more offense on one end and a little less defense on the other. Truth be told, I don’t think the Rockets actually upgraded their coaching with this move. They’ve merely gone from one pretty good coach (whose acumen in big games has come into question) to another. And let’s not kid ourselves. The greatest basketball coach in the history of the universe couldn’t lead this club (as currently assembled) to a title. The Rockets need help at the point guard and power forward spots and they desperately need an injection of athleticism. With that in mind, Morey’s ability to massage this roster will have much more to do with this franchise’s future success than whomever he tabs as head coach (thankfully). Of course, with limited cap space, poor draft positioning and a dearth of marketable assets, his options are somewhat limited, which is why I continue to push my platform calling for a trade involving Mr. One-and-done himself, Tracy McGrady.
On the Astros’ front, optimism seems to be in short supply as well. Not only is the club in the midst of a brutal stretch where they will face a murderer’s row of pitchers this week in San Francisco and Arizona but, outside of Berkman, Lee and Pence, nobody in the everyday lineup seems interested in consistent offensive contribution. One of the chief offenders, Craig Biggio, appeared on the Jim Rome Show yesterday and provided the kind of quotes that surely haunt John Royal’s dreams at night.
Perhaps most disturbing was Mr. Astro’s continued insistence that his quest for 3,000 is really for the fans (Please. Does anyone with an IQ above 1.8 actually believe this nonsense?) and that it’s important for him to stay in the everyday line-up, especially at home, because he doesn’t want to disappoint those who drive one hundred miles (WTF?) to Minute Maid Park just to see him. First of all, if you’re guzzling that much gas to see a well-past-his-prime second basemen with an on-base percentage of .290, do yourself and the environment a favor and stay home. However, I’m going to give mankind the benefit of the doubt here and assume that no such morons actually exist.
Of course, the most troubling aspect of Biggio’s comment is that his milestone is more important to the club than wins and losses. For the longest time, I’ve fought off the urge to believe such baseball blasphemy could exist within the heart of the Astros’ organization. But when you examine the numbers and see that Biggio has played in 40 of 43 games, despite a horrific lack of production, the answer is crystal clear: The individual has been placed before the team. And the fans, the very group Biggio claims he wants to appease, are suffering as a result. It could be a very long summer. – Jason Friedman