COMMENTARY | A day after one of the most pathetic second-half performances in NBA history, the Houston Rockets are searching for answers.
At halftime of Thursday night's game against the Oklahoma City Thunder, Houston entered the locker room with 73 points on the board and a 14-point lead. The boys in red converted 13 3-pointers in the first half, led by three apiece from Donatas Motiejunas and Aaron Brooks.
In the second half, everyone went cold, and Houston failed to make another 3 the rest of the night. Worse than that, they only scored a total of 19 points in the entire second half. Yeah, it was that bad.
After a loss like this, it's time to start asking some questions. It's time to start looking at this team from a different perspective. It's time to start picking this team apart. It's time to start realizing that this team isn't a finished product from a personnel perspective.
It's time to start thinking about a change.
That change, in my opinion, needs to be at the point guard position, and there just so happens to be a proven point guard that may or may not be on the market. That point guard is Rajon Rondo.
Rondo is returning to action after missing nearly an entire calendar year with an ACL tear. The Boston Celtics are nose deep in a transitional faze, currently owning a 14-26 record just a handful of months after trading Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce to the Brooklyn Nets.
More recently, the C's moved Courtney Lee for Jerryd Bayless, who becomes a free agent after the season (Lee won't be a free agent until the summer of 2016). Even more recently, Boston sent Jordan Crawford and MarShon Brooks to the Golden State Warriors in a three-team trade, which netted Boston a few picks and Joel Anthony.
Boston has no intentions on making a playoff run anytime in the next year or two, and with Rondo's contract set to expire after next season, it's very likely that Danny Ainge looks to move the talented floor general before the trade deadline. Ainge has been systematically blowing the C's up since June, and moving Rondo is the way I feel he'll officially usher in a new era of Celtics basketball.
That's where the Rockets come in.
Earlier in the season, Houston allegedly set a deadline to move Omer Asik but never pulled the trigger. Similar to Will Hunting's job search, I think Morey was holding out for something better; Rondo might be that something.
What Boston would command from the Rockets would likely revolve around picks and young talent, but would also include Omer Asik and/or Jeremy Lin. The most possibles scenario is this one:
Houston Gets: Rondo and Brandon Bass
Boston Gets: Omer Asik, Jeremy Lin and Houston's 2014 first-round pick
With this deal, Boston gets a first-rounder in a loaded draft, even if it is going to be late in the first round. They also get a great draw in Lin and a solid starting center in Asik. Both of them can be either flipped for more future assets, or can be plugged into starting, stopgap roles. Who knows, Asik could even become their center of the future; I mean, if they loved Kendrick Perkins so much, what are they going to think about Asik?
For Houston, the biggest risk is Rondo's health. The Rockets have Dwight Howard, Terrence Jones, Motiejunas, Greg Smith, and, in this proposed situation, Brandon Bass, which makes Asik beyond expendable (although he is a luxury to have when healthy). With Rondo coming to town, Beverley moves into a bench role that better suits his talents, and, all of a sudden, Houston has one of the best defense point guard duos in the game.
If the trade went down, at full strength Houston's roster would look like this:
If this deal went through, Houston would have more top-to-bottom talent than anyone in the Western Conference. Maybe it would take a year for Harden and Rondo to gel and for Jones to fully mature, but there's no denying that this squad would be a force to be reckoned with.
Some people may say that Houston wouldn't want Rondo because he doesn't fit its 3-point shooting "system." My response to that is simple: What system? Houston has a quintessential pro-style offense, predicated on pick-and-rolls, isolation sets, post-ups and the drive-and-kick game. They have about as much structure as kindergarten recess. Kevin McHale isn't a tactician; he's an an ego manager. McHale would be able to keep everyone happy, focused on the ultimate goal, and he'd let the talent on the court speak for itself.
Harden and Lin have had limited chemistry for a half and a half now, and even McHale and Lin have struggled to see eye to eye. With Rondo, Harden gets a backcourt mate who he respects, who wouldn't steal his shots, who plays great defense, and who can match him in the talent (and style) department.
Morey has been patient for years. He adjusted one-off parts for several years before finally landing his first star. His first star led him to his second star. Now, he needs to pull the trigger on the deal that brings the final major piece to Houston.
Rondo could be that piece. Or, to steal a line from Doc Holiday in "Tombstone," he could also be the Antichrist (if his knee problems continue). In my opinion, it's a risk worth taking.
M. De Moor is an NBA enthusiast and a lifelong Rockets follower. He grew up idolizing Eddie House and Cuttino Mobley.
- Sports & Recreation
- Houston Rockets
- Rajon Rondo
- Donatas Motiejunas
- Omer Asik
- Jeremy Lin
- Aaron Brooks