This is a little old, but obviously in the summer doldrums where The Dream Shake staff has taken more kindly to enjoying the great outdoors than their computer screens, we're coming back to issue this special announcement.
You know him, you love him. Chuck Hayes is the NBA's pre-eminent center that passes defensively despite being 6-6 because of a devastatingly low center of gravity. At this point in his career, he has no other discernible skills.
Ge figures to be the 15th guy on the bench and is here only for his veteran presence and killer Dikembe Mutombo impression. Hayes' partially guaranteed, one-year deal at the veterans minimum leaves the Rockets with two empty roster spots, with Montrezl Harrell and Jason Terry expected to occupy them.
But all of this is secondary. The Chuckwagon is one of the most unique players in basketball of the last 15 years, and his time in Houston was marked by the team's surprising success despite cavalcades of injuries (sound familiar?). I remember reading somewhere that this year, the Rockets believe they have the best shot since the '90s of winning the title, so Daryl Morey has decided to fill the end of his bench with vets like Chuck and JET instead of rookies like Nick Johnson, valuing locker room presence and steadying influence over possible long-term dividends.
That's a move I agree with. Not only do the Rockets figure to have their best team since the Clutch City era (dependent on Ty Lawson's BAC), but the future looks bright as well. James Harden is locked up until 2018. So are Trevor Ariza, Corey Brewer and K.J. McDaniels. Sam Dekker and Clint Capela will be here, as will Pat Beverley. Dwight Howard could opt out next year and the Rockets could not bring Ty Lawson back. Theoretically, both could return on long-term deals.
They don't need end of the bench rookies to keep the future bright, because it already is. One more steadying hand is always worthwhile, especially on a minimum contract. And if that steadying hand happens to be an immovable Rockets folk hero, well I'm on the wagon.