Kevin McHale talks fitting together Rockets’ pieces


The Rockets are not the most talented team in the NBA this season, which was kind of the plan. Well, the first plan was to get Dwight Howard, but when that fell apart the plan was to be pretty bad and get a high draft pick next year and rebuild that way.

That’s not fun if you are coach Kevin McHale.

What he’s got is a roster with Jeremy Lin at the point, Kevin Martin at the two and a lot of interesting pieces after that he needs to put together. One of those pieces is Royce White, the multi-talented rookie who is kind of a point forward.

In talking about what style he would like to play to (hat tip to Kevin Pelton), McHale talks about fit, about positions, and in a round about why how the old definitions of position don’t work anymore.

So we’re just going to have to do whatever fits our team the best. If our best playmaker is our two-man then we’ll run a ton of stuff that will allow him to make plays. If our best playmaker is our four-man, then we’ll run a ton of stuff for him to make plays. The object is not to run your offense, the object is to run an offense that fits your team. I’m not playing, so it doesn’t matter what I like; it matters what these guys can and can’t do.

I’ve never believed in a one-size-fits-all offense. I always believed that was a copout. I always thought whenever I heard that: ‘You’ve got Kareem and you’re a high-post offensive coach so you’re going to put Kareem Abdul-Jabbar at the high-post? That doesn’t make much sense.’ So I think you have to adapt to your players.

McHale goes into more detail focusing on White and others. You have to like what he is saying — forget the standard roles, just put guys in a position where they can succeed, mold the offense to the talents at hand. Give these guys a chance but play to their strengths, don’t bend them into your system.

At the same time, he asks about defense and that is where the positional revolution can be the most challenging. Not every team has a LeBron James they can just stick on a point guard. The Rockets are going to struggle some on defense this season.

And on offense. But at least the Rockets are going into this willing to see what works and go with it. That’s the kind of team that gets better as the season wears on.

Giannis Antetokounmpo to tell his story on 60 Minutes this week (preview clip)

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Giannis Antetokounmpo grew up hocking wares — clothes, sunglasses, whatever — on the streets of Athens, Greece. He easily could still be living there, the tallest salesman in a poor part of a country with high unemployment and real challenges.

Instead, he is a multimillionaire living comfortably in the United States, and is one of the 10 best basketball players in the world — and still improving. In a few years we may well be saying he is the best player on the planet.

Antetokounmpo will be telling his story on the legendary television news magazine 60 Minutes this week, and the show released a clip. Check it out.

This is the best missed free throw to game winner you will ever see

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We’ve all seen this situation before at every level of basketball: A team down three points gets fouled in the final seconds and has two free throws, so the shooter aims to make the first free throw then miss the second and create a rebound he or a teammate can grab then throw back in to tie the game. It works about as often as an NFL Hail Mary — either the shooter makes the shot anyway or the defense gets the board — but what other choice is there?

Nobody has ever pulled it off as well as Paulinho Boracini of the Brazilian league team Cearense.

Intentional or not (and I lean not), he banked the second free throw off the rim toward the corner, ran it down himself and hit the game-winning three.

Damn. That’s impressive.

(If Boracini and Cearense sound familiar, you win the award for “watching too much Knicks preseason basketball” because they played New York in a 2015 exhibition.)

Giannis Antetokounmpo doubtful with ankle injury for Bulls game

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MILWAUKEE (AP) The Milwaukee Bucks say Giannis Antetokounmpo is doubtful for Friday night’s game against the Chicago Bulls with a sprained right ankle.

The All-Star forward got hurt in the second quarter of a 127-120 loss on Wednesday to the Los Angeles Clippers when he appeared to trip over teammate Shabazz Muhammad under the Bucks’ basket.

Antetokounmpo is fourth in the league in scoring at 27.3 points a game.


Anfernee Simons declares for NBA draft straight out of high school (kind of)

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Anfernee Simons spent the last year playing high school basketball. But because he did so as a fifth-year prep after technically graduating from high school last year and turns 19 in June, he’s eligible for the NBA draft.

Following a path taken by Thon Maker and considered by Jonathan Isaac, Simons – as expected – is turning pro.

Jonathan Givony of ESPN:

Anfernee Simons will forgo his collegiate eligibility and declare for the 2018 NBA draft, he informed ESPN.

Simons informed ESPN that he will sign with agent Bobby Petriella of Rosenhaus Sports Representation

Simons looks like a mid-first-rounder, though his range is quite wide considering how large of a jump he’s making. Teams can learn relatively more about him in workouts and interviews.

A 6-foot-4 shooting guard who specializes in scoring, Simons is quick on his feet with a quick release off the dribble – with range from beyond the 3-point arc to an impressive floater game. Those floaters will be important, because Simons isn’t nearly strong enough for the NBA. He’s also a lackluster passer, though because of physicality concerns, no team will count on Simons to run an offense anytime soon, anyway. He’ll have time to develop as a distributor.

By signing with agents, Simons loses his college eligibility. Drew Rosenhaus, a big-name football agent, isn’t certified with the National Basketball Players Association. Petriella’s only NBA client has been Diamond Stone, a 2016 second-rounder who’s out of the league. They’re all in this bold venture together now.

As the NBA considers changing its draft rules for young prospects, Simons will be an interesting case study. He obviously meets the draft-eligibility requirements in the one-and-done era, but he’s also jumping from prep-school competition to the NBA. The league’s strength and nutrition programs should serve him well. His overall development could influence the wider debate.