The news on Monday that Houston Rockets All-Star center Yao Ming may miss not only the season but never play again comes as a devestating clothesline to the Rockets organization. The Rockets had finally gotten out of the first round of the Playoffs this year, and only needed to re-sign Ron Artest and any NBA center to sew up loose ends. But the Yao injury coupled with the uncertaintiy of Tracy McGrady have left the Rockets with an uneasy feeling. Daryl Morey has been making moves all year. Tracy McGrady is steadily shopped to other teams and the Rockets essentially paid for three picks during the Draft. But is Daryl ready to make the decision he dares to make, and that is to EXPLODE THE ROCKETS! Call it a fire-sale to the rest of the league. Everyone but Luis Scola is available. I exclude Scola because he is the only player that the Rockets should keep. Scola is a rare player, wether starting or coming off the bench he brings a skill set unlike other forwards. Aaron Brooks is still 3 years away from fully carryoing a team, if that is even possible. Shane Battier is a ROLE player, and without Tracy or Yao to complement he is useless. Corner threes and diving for loose balls can only go so far. Brent Barry, Kyle Lowry, Chuck Hayes, and Brian Cook can all start preparing to move. Signing Artest only to trade him even signs like a good move at this junction.
The Rockets gambled on Mutumbo last year, and he returned only to play three games and to get hurt in the last one. Yao has not had a true back-up in years. The constant pressure on Yaos massive and fragile feet has led to this unfortunate moment. Daryl Morey showed up at Marin Gortats home today in Orlando in the hopes of signing the free agent. If the Rockets feel that Marcin Gortat is what the Rockets need, then they are more delusional than anyone could imagine. I’m sure Daryl Morey will make the right decisions when the time comes but the last 5 years have gone out the window. The two people the Rockets have been building the team around are injured. The upside to this depressing moment for Rockets fans is that both Yao and T-Mac are free agents next year. The Rockets seem headed to the lottery without the two, but a top three draft pick plus a key 2010 free-agent could right the ship in one season.
Let me start by saying that The Truth Sports is a fan of NBA players. first..Kevin Garnett, Allen Iverson, Tayshaun Prince, Tim Duncan, Shaq to name a few. We try to watch each NBA game without bias towards one team, but during the Western Conference semifinals matchup between the Houston Rockets and the Los Angeles Lakers we are having a hard time not rooting for the Rockets. The Houston Rockets are the absolute definition of an underdog. Rooting for underdogs is something that is done with ultimate sensitivity. The majority of the public is rooting for the Lakers, even native Houstonians that haven’t ever been to Los Angeles. They are fans of winning, and the Rockets haven’t won it all in nearly 15 years. Or they just chose to root for a team that is consistent. 15 years is a small amount of time when it comes to the Chicago Cubs, or the Milwaukee Bucks, but even when Houston was winning back-to-back titles no one outside of Houston cared. Hakeem Olajuwon is a top ten all-time NBA player but the world could care less. Sports Illustrated didn’t even put the Rockets on the cover after they beat the Knicks in the 94′ Finals. The city had to beg for a cover and SI delivered a “special SI” for the city. If the Knicks had won that series SI would have run commercials for championship merchandise around the clock. The Rockets are a team that seem to start off each season with a solid roster “on paper” , but it never ends that way. Rocket uniforms have been donned by Charles Barkley, Scottie Pippen, James Posey, Stromile Swift, Bobby Jackson, and Walt Williams. All of these players had impacts but none of them could get Houston over that hump. The Rockets traded for Steve “Franchise” Francis and paired him with a 7’6″ Asian-born player Yao Ming, but still remained underdogs. Then the unthinkable happened and the “Francise” was traded for a scoring champ, an all-star, the person that would erase the underdog tag from the Rockets. But Tracy McGrady could not fight off the injury bug, and seasons were lost to back, shoulder and knee problems. The Rockets continued to add role players that would help to erase the underdog tag. Shane Battier, and Luis Scola, were all pieces of the puzzle needed to erase the underdog tag. The signing of Ron Artest before this season spelled the end of losing and a return to the mountaintop. The Rockets fought to the 5 seed in the playoffs and after 12 years got out of the first round. This seemed like the ticket to a different level of respect from the NBA, but the Rockets were far from gaining any real respect. The series with the Lakers has seen Shane Battiers face bloodied, Ron Artest elbowed(and called for a foul) and officials that keep their whistles in their pockets when Yao has the ball. Of course a fan of any team feels his/her team is treated unfairly from time to time, but no team is more disrespected, underrated, or simply passed on then the Houston Rockets. Hopefully one day they can again prove the world wrong! GO ROCKETS!