Houston Rockets owner Les Alexander made quite an impression when he claimed that his team would make a “big splash” addition this summer. With one quick quote he fired the imaginations of Clutch City fans who were left cold when the team that hoped to contend was ejected from the playoffs in the first round. Several weeks have passed since Alexander dropped that bomb, and rumors are starting to leak out about just which ripples Alexander is targeting. The ever-entertaining, often-wrong rumor mill has it that Houston will chase Carmelo Anthony, Kevin Love and Kyrie Irving this summer. Of course, chasing and landing are two different things, as the Rockets have often learned. Here’s a look at the scenarios surrounding each player and how they would help Houston grab a spot in the NBA Finals. In each case, we assume that the Rockets are able to move Omer Asik and Jeremy Lin, either to Minnesota, New York or Cleveland, or to some third team that just wants to take on those balloon-payment ending deals. The Rockets have zero ability to add a big name this summer if they don’t move Asik and Lin in the process.
Carmelo Anthony is clearly target number one for Houston, yet he is also the least likely to get Houston beyond the second round. Houston was a poor defensive squad in 2013-14 despite having Dwight Howard sending shots back in the middle, and Anthony would only exacerbate that problem. He is also a ball stopper, like James Harden, so the likelihood that Howard would be happy getting even fewer shots is very real. Scoring was not Houston’s problem this season, so adding a one dimensional scorer would not seem to make them substantially better. Having a third huge contract on the books, on the other hand, would certainly mean Houston’s already anemic supporting cast would be even less impressive.
Kevin Love would absolutely help the Rockets at arguably their most needed position. Love would perfectly complement Howard because he has shooting range all the way out to three-point land and he is an even better rebounder. Between the two of them they would vacuum up the vast majority of available rebounds. It’s difficult to see Love landing in Houston because he knows as well as anyone that the Lakers have their sights set on him and signing with them would allow him to return home. It’s also extremely likely that the Timberwolves could get more then Houston could offer if they elected to trade him. Nonetheless, there is no question Love would make the Rockets exponentially better.
The Rockets could certainly use an elite playmaker, and Kyrie Irving is on track to be one. In fact, the only thing that seems to be able to slow down Irvin is the injury bug. He’s an amazing leader off the court and a stellar performer on it, making him the complete package. It’s hard to see him leaving Cleveland, but with the aforementioned rumor mill saying he doesn’t want to be in Cleveland long-term, it’s possible the Cavaliers could look to deal him before he can walk. If they do, they could almost certainly get more than a package revolving around Asik and Lin, but there’s no question that Irving could help the Rockets become a contender.
Can the Rockets make a big splash this summer? Wanting to doesn’t make it so. Harden and Howard are an incredible duo to build around, but moving the contracts of Asik and Lin will be no small task for Rockets management. Still, adding another star to round out a big three for Houston would seem to be the best move as the Rockets look to live up to the contender title they adopted when Howard came to town.
The Best Choice For New York?
The New York Knicks are still licking their wounds in the wake of Steve Kerr’s decision to accept the head coaching position with the Golden State Warriors. It seems the Knicks, and especially team president Phil Jackson, had their hearts set on Kerr. The simple fact, however, is that Kerr took the more attractive position with a more complete team, so the Knicks have to move on.
The next most logical choice has much in common with Kerr, in that he has an established relationship with Jackson and once helped a very successful team do extremely well with Jackson has head coach. Kerr played that role for Jackson’s Chicago Bulls, but the player who was instrumental in a similar way with Jackson’s Los Angeles Lakers appears to be ready to don a suit and take up a clipboard.
Derek Fisher is not only intimately familiar with Jackson’s mentality when it comes to running a team, he is also one of the most respected veterans in the NBA. His years as the president of the player’s association showed he was more than capable of handling the business side of the league and also earned him the trust of the majority of the league’s players. That, combined with his exploits on the basketball court, his championship rings, and his penchant for making the right decisions (and the right shots) under enormous pressure make his a natural choice for the Knicks. Unlike established coaches, his desire to get his foot in the coaching door also means he won’t be afraid of the losses that are likely to mount in his first season as coach.
Fisher has 17 years of NBA experience, 13 of those with the Lakers. Jackson coached the Lakers from 1999 to 2011 (minus the 2004-05 season), winning five championships in seven trips to the NBA Finals. Though Fisher did a stretch of time in with the Golden State Warriors and then the Utah Jazz between stints with the Lakers, he was there for five championships. He also made a trip to the Finals with the Oklahoma City Thunder in 2012.
Suffice to say, these two men know something about what it takes to play elite basketball, and they have a great deal of experience making that happen together.
No matter who coaches the Knicks next season, the team is going to take its lumps – with or without free agent to be Carmelo Anthony. What the Knicks need, no matter who’s there, is a strong leader who commands respect and knows how to win.
Derek Fisher is just such a person, and he is now available for an interview.