Erick Dampier not nearly as much of a Rocket as we may have previously thought


There was talk, and then there was more talk, and it looked very much like Erick Dampier was going to be a Rocket. Even Jermaine Taylor was getting shoved out the door in a way that suggested he had his spot reserved for someone else. Certainly looks like the Rockets need some more size with Yao Ming not playing back to backs and only playing 24 minutes a game due to his recovery from the injury.

Or, you know, maybe not.

The Houston Chronicle reports that the Rockets have informed Jermaine Taylor he will not be released because they do not intend to sign Dampier after all. The best part about this story? Taylor’s not even all that happy he’s being retained.

“I’m happy to still be here and still have a job, but then again, I kind of wonder what would have happened if I went somewhere else. I won’t get any playing time here with guys like Courtney Lee, Kevin Martin, unless they get hurt. I kind of know if I went somewhere else, I would have had a chance to play. I have mixed feelings about it.”

Sorry to keep you there, Jermaine. I’m sure there are several teams dying to pick you up… and then bury you at the edge of the bench just as you are now. Taylor needs to take notice of how the Rockets have used their development talent, bringing them along slowly and then giving them more and more responsibilities. Even with the depth the Rockets have, there are opportunities to be had during a season.

For Dampier, it’s the second team that was believed to have offered a contract and then decided not so much, after Miami. So now you have to wonder what the real issue is with his body and why the Rockets have elected not to acquire him, despite a need. The Rockets need another center badly, but apparently Dampier doesn’t fit what they do. So now the question becomes who will pick him up, Portland, Sacramento, Phoenix, or anyone?

James Harden: “I am the best player in the league. I believe that.”

James Harden, Stephen Curry
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James Harden was the MVP last season — if you ask his fellow NBA players.

The traditional award (based on a media vote) went to Stephen Curry (in the closest vote in four years), and that was the right call (in my mind). But from the time it happened Harden did not buy it. And he still doesn’t buy it. In the least — and he’s using that as fuel for this season. That’s what he told Fran Blinebury over at NBA.com.

“I am the best player in the league. I believe that,” he said. “I thought I was last year, too.”

Well, it’s a more realistic claim than Paul George’s.

“But that award means most valuable to your team. We finished second in the West, which nobody thought we were going to do at the beginning of the year even when everybody was healthy. We were near the top in having the most injuries. We won our division in a division where every single team made the playoffs.

“There’s so many factors. I led the league in total points scored, minutes played. Like I said, I’m not taking anything away from Steph, but I felt I deserved the Most Valuable Player. That stays with me.”

That’s very Kobe Bryant of you to turn that into fuel. Defining the MVP Award is an annual discussion that nobody agrees on.

I could get into how Harden was the old-school, traditional stats MVP, how that ignores how Steve Kerr used Curry, and how that opened up the Warriors’ offense to championship levels. Curry put up numbers, but he was also the distraction, the bright star that Kerr used to open up looks for Klay Thompson, Draymond Green, and others. Curry’s strength was not just what he did with the ball in his hands, but his gravity to draw defenders even when he didn’t. Did the Warriors stay healthier than the Rockets? No doubt. Should Curry be penalized for that?

It’s simple for Harden — if he can put up those numbers again, if he can be the fulcrum of a top offense, he will be in the discussion for MVP again. And, if he can lead the Rockets beyond the conference finals, nobody will talk about that MVP snub anyway.