Well, Houston's bench seemed to get a little simpler over the weekend. When the Rockets were down in the RGV for their preseason game against the Warriors, Kevin McHale addressed the team's relationship with their D-League affiliate, as reported by Jonathan Feigen on the Houston Chronicle's Ultimate Rockets blog:
"The Vipers have been great for us. We sent guys down here. It helped them. D-Mo was down here. Terrence came down for a while. It really helps their game a lot. I like it. Like this year will be a huge year for Clint Capela down here. That will be fantastic. Nick Johnson will be able to use this to improve. It's been fantastic for us."
While this stops short of being an official announcement, it tips the Rockets' hand significantly, and it's not much of a surprise. The Rockets drafted raw, athletic projects with their two picks this year, and they want to give those players minutes so they can develop within the system. It's another example of Daryl Morey's relatively unique development plan: Houston puts their more highly valued assets in a baseball-style minor league system so they can grow in a nurturing environment, and lets the fringe players battle for scraps (minutes-wise) at the big-league level.
While it's too early to tell how successful this plan will be (even with T-Jones and D-Mo), it is certainly encouraging to have a road map player development - fans will be much more patient with how the team handles its young players if they can see the system at work. And, if nothing else, it buys Morey at least a year before anyone calls either Capela or Johnson a bust.
Ish Smith and Isaiah Canaan must be breathing sighs of relief now. Depending on where McHale and Morey want the most depth (big or small), they might both have roster spots after this non-announcement.