The Rockets have now played three games since they have excised Shane Battier and Aaron Brooks at the trading deadline and acquired Hasheem Thabeet and Goran Dragic. The day of the trade, I believe it would be fair to say the general consensus was a mixture of the following reactions:
"Alright! Now Terrence Williams has to get playing time!"
"A real center! No more need to start Chuck Hayes!"
"A real backup PG who is tall enough to play actual defense? Excellent!"
Nearly a week later......... what do we have?
Terrence Williams has played 11 minutes against New Jersey, 7 minutes against New Orleans and a whopping 5 minutes against Portland. I know it looks like a typo, but I verified it and everything.
Additionally, Chuck Hayes has started all three post-trade deadline games. Why? I have no idea. In a related story, Hasheem Thabeet has played exactly 2, 0 and 0 minutes in the same games, respectively. Daryl Morey did tell Rick Adelman that he acquired a center for him, right? Right??
Oh, and I'll forgive Adelman (temporarily) for not giving much playing time to Dragic. He got a lot of opportunities against New Jersey, then got food poisoning. Accordingly, it's completely understandable that Kyle Lowry has been playing 40+ minutes every game. Plus, Lowry has been on fire. Putting him on the bench at any point in time would be a mistake at the moment. Sorry, Goran.
Why do I point this out?
Because Rick Adelman needs to either incorporate the new guys or get the hell out of the way. As of today the Rockets are 31-31, a decidedly mediocre .500 record. Now, I will readily admit that the team is 10000% more interesting to watch and they have been playing with a lot of heart and emotion. They've even attempted to play some defense, which is stunning. That said: the Rockets are sitting in 11th place in the West. Even if they do manage to sneak into the 8th spot and get a playoff berth -- is that really a good thing? Nothing is accomplished by being cannon fodder for the Spurs. Ask Tracy McGrady: repeated playoff experience as a big underdog only leads to insane expectations, disappointment and crushing emotional beatdowns. It's not a habit I want any of these Rockets to become accustomed to. It's simply not worth it.
Furthermore, I think we can all agree that the writing is on the wall. Rick Adelman will not be the coach of the Houston Rockets in 2011-2012. He's either going to retire or not be given a contract extension. This is what we call a "mutual parting of ways." So why is he coaching the current team as if he needs to win all of the remaining 20 games? It makes no sense. None.
I like you Chuck Hayes, but you are not the future. You should not be starting at center in any of the remaining games. It accomplishes nothing for you or the team.
I also like you, Brad Miller. You're a stand-up guy and a veteran. But you're also pretty much washed up as an athlete. For you to get any playing time in lieu of Mr. Thabeet is just a joke. Miller played 14 minutes against Portland last night. Jordan Hill? 0. Thabeet? 0. This is an equation that is unsolvable until Adelman gets out of the way. And it does NOTHING for the Rockets' future. Which is what we need to dedicate the next 20 games to.
Now - this is not to discredit Coach Sleepy. He's done a fine job for the Rockets the last four years. He's one of the better coaches in the NBA. But he also has demonstrated that he is not a fan of playing younger players. Hell, Patrick Patterson is in full-on beast mode lately....... and Adelman only let him play 7 minutes last night (though I contend that Adelman was being nice to Portland. No need for PatPat to embarrass Nate's crew.)
This is a long-winded way of getting to my conclusion: It might be in the Rockets' best interests if Rick Adelman steps down today and lets Jack Sikma or someone else take over for the rest of the year. Yes, I know the Rockets are on a really nice winning streak... but really, it's a bit late in the season to try to convince me that this team is a championship contender. They are not. Consequently, I'm completely on board with Les Alexander and Daryl Morey if they want to admit that the Rockets are in rebuilding mode. This would be the Michael Corleone approach. The Sonny Corleone approach would be to keep the status quo, keep playing Chuck Hayes and Brad Miller extended minutes and ignore the future. It would also be a mistake.
Hasheem Thabeet, Terrence Williams, Patrick Patterson and Goran Dragic MUST be given an opportunity to show the team what they can do over the next 20 games. Whether Rick Adelman wants to admit it or not, the Rockets are playing for next year already. They need to start acting like it.
Let them play!
(oh, and bring back JVG!)