Posts Tagged ‘Houston Rockets’

NHL commissioner Gary Bettman is believed to have recently met with Houston Rockets owner Tilman Fertitta to discuss the viability of a team in that city, according to Katie Strang of The Athletic.

The meeting reportedly took place within the past few weeks, although Bettman would not confirm when contacted by The Athletic.

He did say the league is not looking to relocate any teams at the moment, but added a caveat in regards to Houston.

“If Houston were to express an interest in having an NHL franchise, under the right circumstances, it’s something we might want to consider,” he said.

Fertitta purchased the NBA team back in September for a reported $2.2 billion, and has expressed a strong interest in bringing an NHL club to Houston.

The Rockets play at the Toyota Center, which opened in 2003 and can hold 17,800 when fitted for a rink.

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When the Los Angeles Clippers traded for Chris Paul in 2011, the expectation was that they’d be competing for championships with Blake Griffin as his sidekick.

After six seasons together, however, the team couldn’t get past the second round of the playoffs, and with Paul now plying his trade in Houston, at least one Clippers mainstay has acknowledged the awkward leadership hierarchy that existed in L.A.

“The dynamic with Blake and Chris was weird,” Austin Rivers told Sports Illustrated’s Lee Jenkins. “I don’t know why. It was just strange. No one knew who the leader was, and if you had something to say, it would turn into an argument. I think people were sometimes scared to say something to Blake, because you didn’t know how he’d react.”

Griffin’s new five-year, $173-million contract, and Paul’s departure, now leaves no room for debate in terms of who Clippers players can turn to.

“He’s a whole different person, more approachable, and I think it’s because we’ve embraced him,” Rivers told Jenkins. “We know who our leader is. We’re all-in with Blake Griffin.”

Without Paul to control the offense, Griffin has kept the Clippers afloat through the first month of the season, playing arguably the most efficient basketball of his eight-year career.

Griffin has increased his range, taking five 3-pointers per game at 42 percent, while limiting the percentage of long twos he’s taking per game. He continues to finish relatively well around the basket and coming up big when needed, such as the game-winning three he hit against Portland a couple weeks ago.

 
 

ESPN aired the first part of a Chris Paul docu-series Thursday night, covering the superstar point guard’s offseason and the soul-searching conversations that led up to his decision to leave the Los Angeles Clippers and join the Houston Rockets.

One of those conversations took place between Paul and Jay-Z, with Paul weighing his desire to remain settled in Los Angeles against his desire to find a better basketball situation.

“I obviously like where my kids go to school, my brother’s kids go to school, and all that stuff,” Paul said. “We love it out here. Life is great.

“But basketball … boy. Like, the whole thing with our team – a lot of people see the wins and losses and all that stuff – but it’s the culture of our team.”

Paul specified his frustration in a separate conversation with Disney CEO Bob Iger, who he calls a mentor and close friend.

“I guess because I knew different before I got out here,” Paul said. “When I was in New Orleans, we did stuff together. And that stuff means something. As a team, we did stuff together. So when I brought that up (to the Clippers), guys was like, ‘Do we gotta go?’ And I’m looking, like, ‘Do you gotta go?'”

In pure basketball terms, Paul placed the Clippers fourth out of the four teams he was considering in free agency, after the Rockets, Spurs, and Celtics.

“The only thing that could keep me here,” he surmised, “is life.”

Paul also suggested to Jay-Z that the Clippers didn’t seem particularly interested in taking down the Golden State Warriors (though he didn’t specify whether he was referring to the front office or his teammates).

“If you ain’t trying to contend with the Warriors then what are we doing?” he said. “The Warriors haven’t lost in the playoffs. If you’re not trying to contend with them then what are we doing?”

As Paul started to give stronger and stronger consideration to the Rockets, he explained why playing alongside another elite playmaker like James Harden appealed to him more than remaining the primary facilitator with the Clippers.

“I have the ball in my hands way too much,” he told Jay-Z. “Like, I’m so tired of dribbling, having to do so much. I would love to be able to get on the wing and shoot the ball and stuff like that.”

Ultimately, the pull of a new and improved basketball culture proved stronger than that of comfort and familiarity, and now Paul is free to play off the ball – and maybe even mount a challenge to the Warriors – in Houston.

What’s a few more million on the bill after you’ve already paid $2.2 billion?

Tilman Fertitta is thrilled to have finally landed the Houston Rockets after falling short in the bidding two decades ago. He paid the highest price in NBA history to secure the Rockets, and if they’re truly contending for a title, Feritta is willing to continue his generosity.

Feritta told Yaron Weitzman of Bleacher Report he is “absolutely” willing to pay the luxury tax to contend.

“When you start looking to the future and into keeping this team together, if that’s what it’s going to take, then I’m going to leave it to the basketball people and look at their recommendations,” Fertitta said.

“These guys are smart, they know you don’t want to be in the luxury tax unless you think you have a team that can take you to The Finals – if that’s the case then who cares about paying that tax? You do whatever you have to do.”

Houston went to the Western Conference Finals three seasons ago, but they were clearly too far back of the Golden State Warriors to be considered contenders. To that end, they recruited Chris Paul to make a formidable duo with James Harden, which definitely counts as an upgrade, although Paul’s history against the Warriors is unfortunate.

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Houston, we want a hockey team.

Tilman Fertitta – the new owner of the NBA’s Houston Rockets following a record $2.2-billion sale – is interested in adding another sports franchise to his portfolio.

“I would put an NHL team here tomorrow,” Fertitta told Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle. “This one has got to work. But I’d love to have the other dates in the building.

“Do I want to see Toyota Center filled up 300 nights a year? Definitely. We’ll do whatever we can do, but whatever we do has to make sense … Will we be aggressive? Yes. That’s my nature.”

The NHL recently completed an expansion phase, adding its 31st franchise in Las Vegas, while deferring a bid from Quebec City. No other expansion applications, including Houston, were submitted to the league.

NHL commissioner Gary Bettman spoke on expansion as recently as Wednesday on Fox Sports, stating, “Could it happen some point? Yes, but it’s nothing we are focused on right now,” per Sportnset’s John Shannon.

Adding a team in Houston – the fourth-most populous city in the United States – would be a first for the NHL, however hockey itself is not unfamiliar with the area. The city was previously home to the WHA’s Houston Aeros from 1972-78 and a minor-pro team of the same name from 1994-2013.

Houston would also provide some intriguing benefits to the NHL. Not only would the city offer a major television market, but Houston is also a natural Texas rival to the Dallas Stars, and the team could also bring some balance to the Central Division – currently home to seven teams, while the other three divisions carry eight clubs.

The NHL was previously linked to Houston in 2015, when Boston Bruins owner Jeremy Jacobs, who chairs the NHL board of governors, told Nicholas Goss of NESN, “I’d love to see (a team) in Houston, but we can’t get into that building.”

With Rockets’ ownership now changing hands, it could open the door for the NHL’s entry into Houston and the Toyota Center. The 2003-built arena seats 17,800 for hockey and is home to only one major-league tenant.

“We have to make sure hockey fans in Houston, Texas and Houstonians will come out and support an NHL team,” Fertitta added. “When the Aeros left they were drawing 2,000, 3,000, 4,000 a game. If we have an NHL team, we have to put 16,000 in that stadium every night, 17,000, 18,000.

“If I go out and get an NHL team, I’m going to ask the citizens of Houston to make sure they commit to help me do it. None of this is successful without the fans out there.”

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James Harden isn’t going to sit back while his former coach drags his name through the mud.

The Houston Rockets shooting guard did not appreciate Kevin McHale going on NBA TV and saying he’s “not a leader.”

“He’s a clown, honestly,” Harden told reporters Saturday of his coach from 2012-15. “I did anything and everything he asked me to do. I tried to lead this team every single day since I stepped foot here in Houston.

“But to go out here and downplay my name when honestly he’s never taught me anything to be a leader. But I’ve done a great job. The organization, my coaches, you can ask any of those guys how I’ve worked extremely hard every single day. …

“To go out here and downplay my name like that, it shows his character. I usually don’t go back and forth on social media with anybody or with interviews, but I’m going to stand up for myself.”

Asked if there’s bitterness lingering from McHale’s stint in Houston, which ended with his firing early in 2015-16, Harden replied:

“For sure. And I had nothing to do with it. I’m just here to do my job and compete at the highest level that I can.”

The five-time All-Star elaborated on his comment about McHale’s character, suggesting the Hall of Famer sang a different tune when they spoke in person. Harden indicated that McHale used to call him a great player and said he felt lucky to be part of the process.

Harden’s current coach, Mike D’Antoni, stood up for him.

“All I can do is talk about my experience, and he’s been unbelievably great,” D’Antoni told reporters, as quoted by ESPN’s Tim MacMahon.

“Obviously I got Coach of the Year last year because of him and the other 10 guys on the team. He’s been great with everything I asked. I asked a lot of him last year. I asked him to be the point guard, I asked him to talk in D, I asked a lot of things and he responded great.

“We had great chemistry. He’s the first one to get them all together in the summer time or take them out during the year to keep the team together. So I didn’t see it. He’s been great for me.”

Harden’s coming off his best year yet, putting up 29.1 points, a league-leading 11.2 dimes, 8.1 rebounds, and 1.5 steals per game for the Rockets and finishing second in MVP voting.

NBA: Playoffs-Oklahoma City Thunder at Houston Rockets

The new-look Houston Rockets have yet to take the floor together as a collective unit, yet James Harden is ready to board the hype train by comparing his current roster to perhaps the best one he’s ever been a part of.

Harden has just one NBA Finals appearance on his resume. It came back in 2012 with the Oklahoma City Thunder, who fell in five games to the Heatles of South Beach. So are this year’s Rockets as good as that Thunder squad?

“Both teams are similar as far as talent and versatility, a mixture of vets and young guys. Both are very, very, very talented,” Harden told Vice Sports’ Michael Pina. “Now, obviously, the difference is we were younger back then, but both are good.”

Harden was in his third season in the Association when Oklahoma City advanced to the Finals, and hadn’t blossomed into the full-fledged megastar he is today. He was, however, honored as the Sixth Man of the Year for his contributions during the 66-game campaign, averaging 16.8 points, 4.1 rebounds, and 3.7 assists coming off the bench.

Equipped with a young Harden, Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook, and Serge Ibaka, as well as established veterans Derek Fisher, Kendrick Perkins, and Nazr Mohammed, the Thunder had the pieces in place to be a mainstay in the Finals picture. Harden, though, was shipped off to Houston that summer after failing to agree to a contract extension.

Bringing in Chris Paul to run the point single-handedly reshaped the Rockets. Not only does it pair Harden with another All-Star in the backcourt, but it also took a bite out of a core that had just increased its season win total from 41 victories to 55, with Patrick Beverley, Sam Dekker, Lou Williams, and Montrezl Harrell going to the Los Angeles Clippers.

CP3 is indisputably the best player Harden’s had on his team since his days in OKC, which helps explain why he’s so optimistic about the Rockets’ chances moving forward, and why he’s willing to make such comparisons. Reigning Sixth Man of the Year Eric Gordon, sharpshooting forward Ryan Anderson, and big man Nene are at least still around, while Houston added depth at the wing positions by signing both P.J. Tucker and Luc Mbah a Moute.

Ultimately, the ’12 Thunder will have the edge until Harden’s Rockets compete for the Larry O’Brien Trophy themselves.