Rockets not bad, but adrift in NBA’s middle ground without a star to guide them

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There are two parts to constructing a winning team. First, get yourself a superstar or two. Next, get complementary and affordable role players to go around them that fit the system.

The Houston Rockets have the second part of this down, it’s the first part that has Daryl Morey stuck. But he’s trying, according to the Houston Chronicle.

Morey has spent the last 18 months attempting to acquire an impact player of his own. One day, he’s meeting with Chris Bosh, telling him how the Rockets will build around him. He was positioned to make the deal work. He’d gotten the players the Toronto Raptors would have taken in a sign-and-trade. Problem is, Bosh decided to join LeBron James and Dwyane Wade in Miami.

Lately, Morey has telephoned the New Orleans Hornets about Chris Paul and the Denver Nuggets about Carmelo Anthony. Both teams have told him they’re not interested.

Atlanta’s Josh Smith is on Morey’s radar screen, as are others in all probability. Morey likely will have the New York Knicks’ No. 1 pick in 2011 and is hopeful there could be help coming down that road.

Morey took over a Rockets team that was supposed to have its two superstars — Tracy McGrady and Yao Ming. He’s done a very good job of putting quality role players around them (Shane Battier, Aaron Brooks, Kevin Martin, Luis Scola, and so on and so on). Only to be let down by his stars, those stars let down by their bodies.

The problem is, there are only so many building bock stars, and they don’t come easy or cheap. You need to win the NBA lottery, convince one to come to you as a free agent or find a willing trade partner. And there are 29 other teams trying to do just that. It takes a combination of skill and luck that some guys — Pat Riley, for one — have in spades.

For now, the Rockets are stuck in the NBA’s middle ground — not good enough to really go deep in the playoffs, not bad enough to get John Wall in the draft lottery. It’s a tough spot, all the smart moves the Rockets made while the Wizards made bad ones have left the Rockets with less of a long-term future, without the building block Washington was given.

There’s no doubt Morey is smart. The lucky part, we will wait to see.

Did Gregg Popovich leave a $5,000 tip at a Memphis restaurant? (PHOTO)

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Gregg Popovich seems like a nice, considerate dude with a good head on his shoulders. The San Antonio Spurs coach made headlines this season as a leading advocate against many of the political changes occurring since the election of Donald Trump. He’s a thoughtful guy.

Popovich is also apparently a big tipper. A photo recently surfaced via Reddit and MySA.com that showed Popovich’s signature on a bill that had a $5,000 tip on it.

Nope, not a typo. $5,000.

Via MySA.com:

If you’re ever waiting on Pop, be sure to come back to refill his water as much as you can. It looks like it might be worth it for you.

Reports: Rajon Rondo “preparing to attempt to play in Game 5” but may wait until Game 6

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So you’re saying there’s a chance….

The Bulls have been lost at the once since Rajon Rondo went out with a fractured thumb — Jerian Grant and Michael Carter-Williams have been abject disasters to the point Isaiah Canaan was brought out of mothballs (and played fairly well in Game 4). The smart play would be a no point guard lineup with Dwyane Wade and Jimmy Butler as the ball handlers, but that will wear those guys down and will only work for stretches.

What the Bulls need is Rondo back. And that could happen for Game 5 Wednesday, if not maybe for Game 6, reports Shams Charania of The Vertical on Yahoo Sports, and Marc Stein of ESPN.

Rondo is tough, he might be able to play through this, although it likely would limit his effectiveness, particularly when he has the ball.

The Bulls will take whatever he can give. The Celtics woke up the last two games, and it’s going to be difficult to turn the tide without better play at the point.

Rockets owner appears to leave seat, yell at refs during matchup with Thunder (VIDEO)

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The Houston Rockets are in control of their series against the Oklahoma City Thunder, and were up 3-1 heading into Tuesday night’s Game 5 in Texas.

That did not stop what appeared to be Rockets owner Leslie Alexander from complaining to NBA referees. During gameplay. While standing directly next to an official, some 20 feet from his courtside seat.

Via Twitter:

Congratulations are in order to Bill Kennedy, the official in question, for keeping his cool. Or perhaps he just was so surprised by some dude yelling in his ear from right next to him he didn’t know how to react.

Brandon Jennings no fan of the NBA’s new Awards Ceremony event

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Come June 26, Drake will be on stage in New York City, handing out the NBA’s awards — Most Valuable Player, Defensive Player of the Year, Coach of the Year, and so on. (We need to set an under/over on the number of players Drake hugs that night.)

The NFL does it. The NHL does it. And the NBA has decided to follow suit with a broadcast awards ceremony where everything — except the All-NBA Team — will be announced that night. It’s happening because the broadcast partners want it.

Brandon Jennings is not a fan. Here is what the Wizards’ point guard Tweeted:

Jennings took down a Tweet that said if he had won the award he would have wanted to get it with the organization and his teammates around him. (And no, he knows he’s not winning the award. If you were going to put that in the comments be more creative.)

There’s something to what Jennings is saying. The NBA award roll out was awkward at times in previous years, but it gave the fans a chance to celebrate the awards with their favorite player. Now, everyone will watch it unfold on television from a ballroom in NYC. That feels a little colder. Also, we will get to see the reaction of those who don’t win (particularly this season, where several players can make a strong case for MVP).

It will be interesting to see how this first year goes, and how the league tweaks it going forward. The more than two month gap between the end of the regular season and the awards could feel a bit awkward. But we’re not going to knock the idea until we’ve seen it in action.