We now take a break from coverage of James Harden’s trade request to bring you...actual basketball!
The Houston Rockets play an organized basketball game tonight for the first time since being eliminated from the 2019-20 playoffs all the way back on September 12. In the three months since, Houston fans have been hit with a significant number of gut punches. 2020 really needs to end immediately.
The Rockets and Bulls will play two games (both tonight and Sunday night) in Chicago at the United Center. With camp rosters usually bloated with players being given a tryout, expect new head coach Stephen Silas to give everyone a bit of run over these next two games. That means we’ll likely see minutes from faces both new and old to the NBA landscape.
The biggest offseason acquisitions for the Rockets were Christian Wood and John Wall. Wood finished out the 2019-20 season on a tear, but the Detroit Pistons were not able to play in the Bubble due to their record. Wall hasn’t played an NBA game since Boxing Day back in 2018. And DeMarcus Cousins hasn’t played since Game 6 of the 2019 NBA Finals. Oh, and Gerald Green is back for the first time since Game 6 of the first round of the 2019 NBA Playoffs.
So a not insignificant number of “new” Rockets are coming off injuries, which will definitely dictate how Silas can utilize his expected rotation pieces. Houston also has some new faces from other teams, including Jerian Grant, Sterling Brown, and David Nwaba (who technically was with the team last year but did not play due to injury).
There are some young kids to watch too. Kenyon Martin Jr., Mason Jones, Trevelin Queen, Jae’Sean Tate, and Brodric Thomas are all rookies coming in to their first NBA camp. Martin is the only player of that group with guaranteed money, but it’s nice to see so much youth in a Rockets preseason.
The Chicago Bulls mostly bring back their same squad as last year. Key additions include Billy Donovan as head coach and Patrick Williams as the number 4 overall pick in the NBA Draft.
I know that James Harden is the attention-grabber in Houston right now, but he still needs more negative COVID-19 tests and did not make the trip to Chicago. He’s on schedule to join the team for practice on Monday, but I’m not going to hold my breath. Certainly we can expect most of the commentary during this game to revolve around Harden’s status heading into the new season.
Tip-off is at 7pm CT on NBA TV