I would consider the following a puff piece.
There is no data-driven analysis here. I didn’t need to break out any of my fancy subscriptions.
This is an injection of unbridled optimism. We need it like the forest needs rain, so I’m providing it.
Well, in all actuality, I’m not. If I may quote the virtuosic-yet-problematic MC Jay Electronica, “The universe is listening - be careful what you say in it”. I’m listening back. Perhaps I should exercise more caution before I say the following, but I won’t. We need it:
Things are looking up for the Houston Rockets.
The Rockets’ coaching search is going well
It’s official folks: Nick Nurse is the next Head Coach of the Rockets.
Only, it isn’t. Ime Udoka seems like the frontrunner if you’re a rumor-monger. Meanwhile, the Rockets haven’t officially interviewed either of them yet. The guys they have talked to have been interesting.
I’ve written and podcasted on the spectrum of options for the Rockets here a number of times. Somehow, I’d never considered James Borrego. A lot of Rockets fans would be disappointed with this hire - they shouldn’t be.
Borrego’s Hornets led the NBA in assists per game in 2020-21. They had the sixth-best offensive rating in the league. When they fired him, it was puzzling. This is a solid NBA head coach.
Sam Cassell has less of a track record. He’s never been an NBA head coach. In all likelihood, he won't get the job anyway.
After all, Frank Vogel is in the mix too. How you feel about any of these candidates in a vacuum is beside the point here.
The Rockets have options.
How could this be? Isn’t Houston in the worst situation an NBA team has been in since the inception of the NBA? There have been literal talks of relegating this organization to the G-League. Why would a decent NBA coach want to come here?
Gee, let’s think. The Rockets are an international brand. They can attract free agents to an extent. Houston is a bustling metropolis full of opportunities for a head coach’s wives and children. Who could say?
In fact, those will all be factors in a number of ways in determining this team’s future.
The Rockets may land a star
Bill Simmons knows where Jaylen Brown wants to play pic.twitter.com/RnoZc80on9— Leveled Up x2 (@PlatinimStatis) April 14, 2023
Poor Bill. Poor, poor Bill.
This is so much fun that I don’t know where to start. I’m like a child in a candy store here. Someone needs to get me on a leash.
That’s an audio clip of Bill Simmons admitting that one of his beloved Celtics may want to come to the Rockets this summer. The Jaylen Brown rumors are growing increasingly loud, whether you like them or not.
Of course, they're still not as prominent as the James Harden rumors. There is very much a world where the Rockets have both of them on the roster next year.
They could have Victor Wembanyama or Scoot Henderson too. Of course, it’s also entirely possible that none of these things happen at all. There would still be reason to be optimistic about this team.
Why? They’re the Houston Rockets, that’s why.
Is the Thunder’s rebuild going better? You bet. They’ve got a top-fiveish player under 25 and the most draft capital a team’s ever had. Could the Rockets surpass them anyway? You bet. Why?
They’re the Houston Rockets.
To some extent, there is a natural order in the NBA. Take the Los Angeles Lakers. They don’t have to do anything right. The Lakers could trade LeBron James for a box of cat litter. In a few years, a superstar will probably decide that they'd look good in purple and yellow anyway.
By contrast, take the Minnesota Timberwolves. A number-one pick? Two number-one picks? It doesn’t matter. The Wolves aren’t good. The universe compels them to fail.
The Rockets are somewhere in-between. Still, they're closer to the Lakers than the Timberwolves. The Rockets are just good - they always have been, and they usually will be.
The Celtics could trade Brown to Portland. Harden could stay in Philly. The Rockets could get the seventh pick in the draft and be forced to hire Cassell because all of the good candidates head elsewhere.
Still, the tank just ended and the Rockets are linked to two fringe All-NBA players. They could draft an elite prospect. Several top-tier coaches are rumored to be interested in taking the job.
The Rockets are going to be OK.
After all the hardship we’ve endured, we deserve it, too.