Kevin McHale

Kevin McHale on Rockets lackluster offseason: ‘We have to sign players’


The Rockets were ambitious entering free agency, shooting for stars like Carmelo Anthony in hopes of adding a third piece alongside Dwight Howard and James Harden that would immediately vault them to the level of title-contenders.

Not only did they strike out with Anthony, but Houston ended up losing three key rotation players in the process.

Jeremy Lin and Omer Asik were each traded away in a move to dump salary in case Anthony were to decide to come, and Chandler Parsons was allowed to leave in restricted free agency after the Rockets chose not to match the lucrative offer he received from the Mavericks.

Kevin McHale was once a general manager, so he understands the reasons that the front office made these moves as well as anyone. But that doesn’t mean that he has to like it, especially in his current role as head coach.

From Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle:

“Well, I mean, hey I understand kind of why we did it,” McHale said. “I know they’re talking about flexibility. I like Chandler. He’s a big part of what we did and what we do. I’m going to miss having him, but that’s part of the business I guess. We got to replace not only Chandler, but we have to replace (Omer) Asik and we have to replace Jeremy (Lin) so we have a lot of work to do.

“We’ll see who we get. We have to sign players. We’re just going to keep grinding away. And we’re going to go out and play. I like Trevor. I think he can help us. He shot the 3-ball well last year. We’re going to need him to do that again. Defense. Leadership. We need some experience.”

And from Adam Wexler of

When asked if he thought, as general manager Daryl Morey said recently, the Rockets would be a better team come playoff time this season than they were last season, he simply said, “We’ll find out.”

The Rockets did add Trevor Ariza, a more-than-solid two-way player who should help the defense while fitting into Houston’s uptempo offensive style. And, there are still lower-level guys out there in free agency who might be of additional assistance as Houston looks to shore up its roster.

You can’t blame the Rockets for taking chances and trying to go in another direction, because after all, they didn’t get Howard and Harden to lose first round matchups in the playoffs. But at the moment, there’s no arguing that Houston failed miserably this summer, and have only gotten worse.

Jimmy Butler wants Mason Plumlee to pay fine after scuffle (video)


Jimmy Butler and Mason Plumlee got into an altercation in the Bulls’ win over the Trail Blazers last night.

Plumlee lowered his head and tried to barrel through Butler’s chest on a Butler screen. Butler fell and retaliated by putting Plumlee in a leg lock, causing Plumlee to fall.

You might remember a leg lock as what Cavaliers guard Matthew Dellavedova did to Bulls forward Taj Gibson during last year’s playoffs. For all the talk then of Dellavedova being a dirty player, Butler seems particularly aggrieved after getting a technical foul, which comes with a $2,500 fine – the same penalty Dellavedova eventually received. (Plumlee got a flagrant foul.)

Butler, via Vincent Goodwill of CSN Chicago:

“He thought he was playing football for a second there,” Butler said. “Almost had to let the Fort Greene Projects out of me, Brooklyn, you know what I’m saying?”

It was said tongue in cheek considering Gibson was a few feet over and Butler wanted to draw some laughs. Gibson is a Brooklyn native and grew up in the Fort Greene Projects while Butler grew up in Tomball, Texas.

It was no laughing matter when he said he would find a way to approach Plumlee about the fine money, jokingly suggesting he would have his agent email him at “Mr. or something” and made a joke about Mike Dunleavy applauding Plumlee’s act.

Plumlee and Dunleavy are products of Duke University.

“Yeah, he cost me 2,500,” Butler said. “I’m not happy about that. Gonna ask him to pay me back and I’m not playing.”

Is that, or Or is it Dookie?

These are important questions – at least if you’re trying to turn the conversation away from your dirty play and toward your colorful quotes.

Breaking news: Leandro Barbosa dunked


The Warriors became the first team in NBA history to start 16-0.

In the process of getting that record-breaking win over the Lakers, something nearly as historic happened.

Leandro Barbosa dunked.

The 32-year-old Golden State guard last jammed in January 2011.

For a little more perspective, look how Barbosa handled a breakaway layup earlier in the fourth quarter:

You think that man can still slam?

Yes. Yes, he can.

Magic benching Victor Oladipo, starting Channing Frye

Stephen Curry, Victor Oladipo, Channing Frye
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Elfrid Payton, Victor Oladipo, Evan Fournier, Tobias Harris and Nikola Vucevic have started eight of the Magic’s 14 games, including the last three.

But after Orlando dropped two straight, Scott Skiles hinted at lineup changes.

The Magic coach will deliver against the Knicks tonight, swapping Channing Frye for Oladipo.

Skiles, via Josh Robbins of the Orlando Sentinel:

“It’s nothing punitive,” Skiles said after the Magic’s shootaround.

“It’s just we feel like we’ve got to try to find a little bit better balance. I’d like Victor to have some more opportunities like he’s had a little bit in the past where he can be on top of the floor and attack and get a little bit more vertical and not only get to the rim but just be a little bit more on the attack but not necessarily start the game that way.”

Here are the offensive/defensive/net ratings for the

  • Former starting lineup: 94.7/111.2/-16.5
  • New starting lineup: 117.2/90.3/+26.8

The new unit has played just 33 minutes in two games, so major sample-size caveats apply. But I like idea of seeing more of what has worked.

I suspect Skiles also wants to keep his players from becoming content. At 6-8 and coming off three straight seasons outside the playoffs, they should have no reason to feel satisfied, but the hard-driving Skiles will be proactive.

If Oladipo – whose defense Skiles values – can get sent to the bench, anyone can.

At some point, the Magic must determine whether Oladipo and Payton – both below-average 3-point shooters – can share a backcourt. But it’s also worth knowing whether Oladipo can excel as a super sub leading bench players.

This switch might help the Magic win now, but at worse, it’ll give them more information for evaluating their young roster. Seems smart all around.

Dwight Howard says he’s cleared to play back-to-backs

Dwight Howard
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The 5-9 Houston Rockets need some wins.

The Houston Rockets have a back-to-back coming up, Sunday against the Knicks then Monday against the Pistons (both on the road). Two teams with quality big men.

Combine those things and you end up with Dwight Howard being re-evaluated by team doctors and getting the training wheels taken off, via Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle.

This, plus a mini training camp the past few days, is part of new coach J.B. Bickerstaff’s effort to turn Houston’s season around.

Houston’s defense is 1.9 points per 100 possessions better this season when Howard is on the court and the Rockets are stronger on the glass. The problem is the offense is 7.8 points per 100 worse with Howard on the court. How much of that can be changed with some roster tweaks — like limiting the time James Harden and Ty Lawson share the court — and how much is due to Howard demanding touches and not doing enough with them we will find out quickly.