The Rockets held a light practice this morning in McAllen. They didn't scrimmage and mostly walked through rules and regs for the most part. They let the media view very little of the actual practice but a few things we saw were:
A) Omer Asik has a way of making you feel very little when you stand next to him.
B) Jeremy Lamb looks so totally dreamy when he smiles.
C) Kevin McHale has a long gait with an absurdly noticeable limp. He calls it old knees. I call it swag.
After practice we were able to shove a recorder in everyone's face, here were some of the highlights.
Q: You hear a lot about the sophomore slump, how are you adjusting your game to avoid all that?
I think those are all myths, man. I think those are just what you make of it. I'm gonna do the same workout I did my rookie year for my sophomore year and now. I want to try and make strides, I don't want setbacks I'm trying to become a great player. I don't look at it like I want to have a slump my sophomore year. I've gotten better all summer long and I've been working on all aspects of my game.
Q: Speaking of them aspects, on a scale of 10 to Chuck Hayes how would you rate your free throw skills now?
(laughs) I mean, my free throw stroke right now is really good. When I shoot one hundred free throws I'll make 80 or 90 of them it's just that you cant simulate a game free throw. But I've been working a lot on my form, shooting the same shot. I'm confident and we'll see when the season comes.
Q: What has been the biggest advent of having a full camp for the first time?
It's just a lot more organized. It's assuring having to know when your preseason games are, when the season starts and having a full month to get in here early and build chemistry for our team. To be together this early I think is really going to help us in the long run.
Q: You're barely in your second year, yet it's your face on the billboards. Why do people look at you as a team leader?
I think I lead by example. I think last year my work ethic was very good I came and I played defense and I did all the little things that add up to winning plays. I think coaches respect. I think other players respect that. So when they see how hard i work and all the little things I do, they assume I'm a leader.
Q: You've made some pretty crazy nice passes [in camp]. Is that something you've worked on this off season or is that more a product of being a younger faster paced team?
A little bit of both I've always been able to facilitate and get guys open shots and make the game come easier for them. I think just as my game progresses and i get more comfortable with the ball in my hands I can make passes and plays like that for our team.
Q: Do you feel more pressure from the outside or from yourself to deliver on your potential?
No pressure, I haven't thought of once. At the end of the day draft night is special and all that once you get on your team it don't matter where you went. everybody has to play at that point. Everybody has to prove what they can do.
Q: What are your goals for your rookie year?
I would like to be a stand out rookie but most of all i want to do for my team what I know i can give them and that's scoring, getting deflections on defense, rebounds and stuff like that. I just want to show my skills and help the team.
Q: What has been the biggest adjustment through playing in the summer league and the first three days of camp? Is there a huge difference or is it just basketball at the end of the day?
It is just basketball, there's a few things. Rotations are different even on defense you can't just sit in the lane. So little things like that. But like is said we haven't started playing games so nothing is particularly challenging right now.
Q: Do you feel like the third wheel?
(Laughs) I'm just taking it all in. I don't look at it as anyone in front of anyone we're all just rookies going through the same thing.
Q: Have you settled in to the routine, after the Initial burst of excitement have you realized sort of the drudgery of camp?
I think it's still exciting. Bodies are tired but right now we've done the foundational stuff. Yesterday we started to play more as we learn more we'll be able to play more and that's where we have more fun.
Q: Is it easy to re-acclimate to this team since you did get a taste of what they did last year [when you were in camp]?
It's very similar. This is naturally a good system for me, free flowing creative, spread out.
Q: You said before that you feel awkward being the face of this team on billboards — why is that? How much different is it playing with Melo and Amare and sharing the spotlight than it is being The Man of this franchise?
The expectations for our team is different this year, people aren't sure what to expect from us and they aren't expecting much. And I think that's perfect. That is the situation that we want to be in. Having everyone else overlook us, not that they shouldn't but we're under the radar a little bit.
Q: How do you feel about fame?
There's just positives and negatives. You get a unique platform if you want to say or do something or promote a cause there's people that want to listen. And if handled the right way that can be really powerful and influential.
Q: And the negatives?
The lack of privacy, it comes with the territory and it takes a little getting used to. Learning to be thankful because at the end of the day people care about what you're doing and how your'e doing and that's something that as athletes we should be thankful for.
Q: What were you thinking last January about Jeremy and how has that changed since then?
I was just happy for Jeremy because we had him in camp and I really liked him I thought he was a great kid, he worked really hard but we were just in the spot where we had Kyle Lowry Goran Dragic and Johnny Flynn all with guaranteed money and four or five days to look at him but I was really impressed with him as a person.
I looked at him and told him I didn't know how much of a chance he was gonna get and he looked me and said I appreciate you just tell me where I'm at. So when he had his success and I was happy for him.
Being in the league over thirty years I dont know if I have ever seen something like that. being where he was, being let go and being let go by another team. Then being on the bench and not playing to coming in and doing that was unreal.
I actually found a way even on the road to go to sports bars and watch him just cause i was interested.
And what about now?
Look, as in all things in life, there's a happy medium. He's a lot better than the guy that got let go twice but I'm not sure he's at that level for 82 games, it was a phenomenal level but he's playing well. We're going to rely on him a lot to run our offense make plays and make shots and just be effective for us. He's gonna have a lot of responsibility.
I'm heading back to practice tomorrow and the next day. So if you have questions for any Rocket post them in the comments and I'll try and ask them.