News » Houston Rockets Getting Inside 2009-10-19

Houston Rockets Getting Inside 2009-10-19

Houston Rockets Getting Inside 2009-10-19Midway through the preseason, Rockets coach Rick Adelman was asked the customary training camp question. Asked to assess how the Rockets progress compared to his expectations, Adelman said it was not far apart. There was, however, a catch.

"I had no idea where we'd be at this juncture so I guess we're meeting my expectations," Adelman said. "I didn't really have a clue how we were going to do. I have an idea where our deficiencies are. We have to get better in every area."

That does not sound too promising, but it really is an indication of how great the uncertainty about the Rockets remains.

There is little that can be considered assured, other than the areas from which they hope their improvement is launched.

Aaron Brooks is certain to be their starting point guard, but he will have to become a more consistent scorer while being a more effective play-maker, with little known about whether he can do both.

Trevor Ariza will be given ample opportunity to do more than he did in Los Angeles, but there is no way to know whether he can create shots for himself off the dribble or if he can, how long it will take to make that a reliable part of his game.

Chuck Hayes and Shane Battier will defend like crazy, but the Rockets cannot know if they can increase their offensive production in any significant way.

Even the most consistent Rockets player last season, Luis Scola, will be asked to do more than he has before, and to do it without Yao Ming drawing defenders away from him.

Most of all, the Rockets don't know when Tracy McGrady will be back on the court or what sort of player they will get when he does return. McGrady has said he feels better than he did at any point last season, but there were many occasions in which he seemed to be ready to reclaim his former athleticism only to backslide. As well as he has done in his rehabilitation from microfracture surgery, he has yet to test it with the NBA grind.

About the only thing certain is that the Rockets will have to do all that without Yao, who is expected to miss the season and whose absence is felt in everything the Rockets do.

The Rockets believe they can put those pieces together. They went 2-2 against the Lakers in the Western Conference semifinals after Yao went out. They were, however, routed in the two losses, an indication that even those encouraging signs cannot be considered certain forecasts of the season to come.

Weeks into the preseason -- and likely even months into the season -- nothing is.

"We're still trying to forge an identity," Battier said. "It's a work in progress. It probably will be for a while."

COACHING STAFF: Head Coach -- Rick Adelman, 18th year overall, 3rd with Rockets (860-537). Assistants -- Elston Turner, Jack Sikma, T.R. Dunn, R.J. Adelman.

LAST SEASON, REMEMBERED: 53-29 (3rd in the Southwest), lost in playoffs second round.

THIS SEASON, PREDICTED: 39-43 (4th in Southwest).

POSSIBLE CHANGES, PREDICTED: The Rockets are determined to not make any move to help this season that would not also work for the following season when Yao Ming returns. Much of what they consider will be based on Tracy McGrady's return and effectiveness. He and his expiring contract could be a possibility to be moved, but there are few options for a contract in excess of $22 million. More likely, he finishes the season with the Rockets and any deals are minor, involving backups with short contracts.

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Added: October 20, 2009


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