Sunday, December 19, 2004

That Rockets loss to the Charlotte Bobcats last night was as bad a game as they have played this year.

Except for a bright spot or two, I predict the Rockets are going to be nothing short of disgraceful this season.

And it was not so long ago I remember Jeff Van Gundy had all the mojo working for him when he arrived. New coach, new arena, new big man -- things were really looking good. In fact, Van Gundy's clout was the reason there was no place left for Rudy T when he got well; VG didn't want the iconic coach with two championships looking over his shoulder. Then came the gradual disintegration of his relationship with Stevie Franchise (to be fair, the marriage wasn't strengthened when Stevie skipped a practice to go the Super Bowl). Ultimately, though, that JVG just didn't like him -- din't like his slightly-out-of-control style, didn't like his decison-making, especially at the end of some games, and probably just didn't like him personally -- is what got him traded. And look how Francis, Mobley, and even Cato (before he was injured) have thrived in a run-and-gun offense in Orlando. Again, just to be even-handed, a rejuvenated Grant Hill could have a little something to do with their success.

But after just a season and a half, the pendulum has swung. VG's "system" still doesn't seem to be working even with T-Mac playing beside Yao. Yao in fact has taken a step or two backwards this year (which may or may not be JVG's fault). The real problem is that there's no one -- absolutely no one -- on the roster besides those two the Rockets can trade to get better.

Even Eddie Griffin is making their personnel decisions look bad. Which is to say that almost all of this is actually Carroll Dawson's heat to fade, but he's been part of the organization for so long I can't see him getting axed. And no matter how bad they play the rest of the season, JVG won't be fired because the Rockets can't afford to cut and run from their 'strategery' after two seasons.

Juwan Howard or Jim Jackson or Bob Sura or Maurice Taylor or someone is going to have to step up their play.

Of course, there's always the indomitable Scott Padgett...

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