Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle dropped off this delectable nugget today:
Rockets guard Isaiah Canaan expected back Wednesday in Denver.
— Jonathan Feigen (@Jonathan_Feigen) December 15, 2014
Don't look now, but the Rockets are actually kind of getting healthy. Later today, he also mentioned that Kostats Papanikolaou hopes to be back on Saturday, but that's obviously not as firm. Isaiah filled in admirably for Patrick Beverley after one of the latter's hamstring injuries, but when both were healthy, Canaan's minutes were wildly inconsistent, with Jason Terry serving as the primary backup guard.
JET's veteran presence is obviously a good thing for this team - selection bias aside, he's one of the new ingredients in a vastly improved squad - but he's obviously not suited for as many minutes as Kevin McHale's been playing him. Over his last 12 games, he's only shot 32% from three, with a negative net rating over the same time period. By contrast, Lil' Sip's overall rating is 5.8 this year, including when he was playing barely any minutes early in the season.
By the same token, Canaan's return could mean more rest for Trevor Ariza, if not James Harden as well. Coach McHale has been going small at some points this year with a three-guard lineup, and Canaan gives them a lot of flexibility in this regard, since he's a good enough shooter to play off the ball (with an effective field goal percentage of 57% this year).
One thing's for sure - when Big Papa returns, he'll be part of a Rockets bench that will have a lot more experience under their belt than we thought they'd have at this point in the season. Who knows when Terrence Jones will be back, but as it stands now, a bench with Terry-Canaan-Papanikolaou on the wings doesn't sound so bad (even though the small sample of that three-man lineup so far has a ghastly net rating of -30, something to keep an eye on).
Defensively, they'll give up a bit, depending on how the big man minutes sort out, but Big Papa's penetration and distribution skills should get Terry and Canaan open shots. Also, Francisco Garcia could come back. Hopefully we stay healthy enough to not need him.
Speaking of the big man minutes, there's been no updates on T-Jones' condition in a while, but D-Mo's very encouraging 25-point performance on Saturday alongside Dwight means that whenever Terrence does come back, the bench - well, it may not be a strength, but it certainly won't be the glaring weakness we thought it might be.
So, Wednesday night in Denver, hopefully we'll get some Canaanballs and an injection of life in the Rockets' bench.
UPDATE: Just want to mention that if Troy Daniels hopes to crack this rotation instead of being an afterthought, maybe he should stay out of James Harden's way: