Gone is Chandler Parsons. Omer Asik is, too, and so is Jeremy Lin. Kevin McHale is back, but he’s in the final year of his contract, and after a summer of disappointment have the Rockets head coach been set up to fail?
When last spring’s playoff loss to Portland ended, Parsons and Asik were in McHale’s starting lineup, while Lin was his first man off the bench. The three combined to play close to 40 percent of the Rockets playoff minutes. Trevor Ariza will take the spot of Parsons, as for Asik and Lin, well, that could be a problem.
You can argue that the Rockets starting lineup is among the best in the league, but you need more than that to compete for an NBA title, and after Dwight Howard, James Harden, Terrence Jones, Patrick Beverly, and Ariza, the Rockets are remarkably thin, so thin that with one preseason game left, I have no idea what the rest of the Rockets rotation will look like when things top-off for real on Tuesday night in Los Angeles.
Let’s take a look at who McHale’s bench options are:
Donatas Montiejunas- Hasn’t done enough in two seasons to warrant a consistent role. Didn’t appear in the Portland series.
Jason Terry- 37 years old and has been traded three times in the last 15 months.
Troy Daniels- Played in a total of nine NBA games, five in the regular season.
Jeff Adrien- Played in a total of 137 NBA games with 4 teams over 4 NBA seasons.
Tarik Black- Undrafted free agent
Isaiah Canaan- Played in 22 games as a rookie last season.
Clint Capela- First round pick from Switzerland, very raw
Joey Dorsey- Began his career with the Rockets, but played in just 61 games in 4 NBA seasons. Spent the last 4 years in Europe.
Francisco Garcia- Veteran, who played a big role during the series against Oklahoma City in 2013, and started last season in McHale’s rotation, but wasn’t in it by the end.
Nick Johnson- Second round pick
Kostas Papanikolau- 24-year-old, who was acquired in the Thomas Robinson deal. Highly thought of but has yet to appear in an NBA game.
Ish Smith- Began his career with the Rockets, but he bounced around to 6 teams in three years. Spent last season with Phoenix, his 7th NBA team, and had the best year of his career, playing in 70 games.
Daryl Morey could always make a move to add someone, but as it stands now, McHale will go into the season with a nothing bench.
This is his fourth season as the Rockets head coach, and the team has made improvements after his first two, but after 2014’s disappointing finish his future is murky. The expectations are high for this season, but with the team taking a step back talent wise in the loaded Western Conference, the roster doesn’t match them.
Morey can talk about how much he loves McHale and how great a coach he thinks he is, but the fact is that the organization hasn’t made that sort of commitment to him, and you have to think the only way McHale becomes the first Rockets head coach to get to year 5 since Rudy Tomjanovich is to improve on last year, and right now, it doesn’t look like his boss has given him that chance.
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