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Rockets’ GM Morey: There are at least three teams better than us

Sep 18, 2013, 12:16 PM EDT

Newly signed Houston Rockets player Dwight Howard during news conference in Houston Reuters

Expectations are high around the Rockets. They made big strides last season getting James Harden in the fold, playing an exciting up-tempo brand of basketball, winning 45 games and getting into the playoffs.

Then they went out and got Dwight Howard.

The talk in Houston is of a title — this team is a contender now. But team GM Darryl Morey tried to tamp down those expectations in a recent radio interview (as transcribed by CBSHouston, hat tip to Eye on Basketball).

Morey said the Rockets are not yet at the top of the mountain.

“I think there are probably at least three teams better than us if not more,” Morey said about the chances of winning a championship this season. “Until you’re going into a season felling like you are the top one or two I think it’s, and we haven’t really accomplished anything, I think it’s hard to talk about ‘hey we’re one of the favorites to win the championship.’ But I do think we go in with a chance, where as we haven’t in the last few years.”

What teams? The Heat, Thunder and Spurs are the obvious calls and the radio interviewer threw those out.

“I think those three, I would say going in for sure are better than us, and they’ve definitely proven more,” Morey said of the last three teams to appear in an NBA Finals. “I think the Bulls and the Pacers they’re very good as well this year. I am hoping we are in the mix with them, maybe equal quality.”

I’d throw the Clippers and Nets in that next tier with the Bulls and Pacers, personally.

I see this as a melding year for the Rockets — there are a lot of different styles and personalities that have to come together and make this all work. Those teams ahead of them on the list have had a few years to figure out exactly who they are and how the pieces fit together (and their GMs have tweaked those pieces), the Rockets are just starting that process.

For example, Howard pushed back against Mike D’Antoni’s up-tempo, pick-and-roll heavy offense in Los Angeles, but the Rockets played at a faster tempo (with 7 percent more of their offense coming in transition) and were just as pick-and-roll heavy as the Lakers last season. Then there is the question of how Howard and Omer Asik work together. Plus, is Howard fully healthy and playing like his Orlando self again? Getting together defensive rotations takes time, also. The list goes on and on.

Houston will be good, but how good this season remains to be seen. They could be a team that starts to find more of its stride after the All-Star break.

However with all that talent on the roster, the expectations are going to hang over this team like the Sword of Damocles. Have fun with that.

  1. nycalldayz - Sep 18, 2013 at 12:26 PM

    Heat, Spurs, Pacers, Nets, Bulls, Clippers, Knicks, Warriors, Thunder, Grizzles are all better than the Rockets right now. Nothing against the Rockets or Lin, but he shouldn’t be the starting PG. Will the Rockets be willing to play team defense instead of trying to out score their opponents at a high level? Then there is the question of how Howard and Omer Asik work together. Starting DH12 and Asik together? Seriously!

  2. spthegr8 - Sep 18, 2013 at 12:29 PM

    Hate to burst your bubble Rocket fans, but you are NOT winning a championship this year and their are more than 3 teams better than the Rockets. The Heat, Spurs, Thunder, Pacers, Bulls and as much as I hate to admit it, the Clippers. The Grizzles and the Warriors might be better than the Rockets also. So, why Houston did get better, they still got a ways too go. & I’m not hating. Just keeping it 100!!!

    • antihypocritz - Sep 18, 2013 at 9:17 PM

      Not a Rockets fan, but nonetheless can’t wait to watch Howard destroy Griffin and Jordan.

  3. spthegr8 - Sep 18, 2013 at 12:29 PM

    Oh yeah, I forgot about the Knicks!!

  4. azarkhan - Sep 18, 2013 at 12:45 PM

    The Knicks, Nets, Clippers and Grizzilies better than the Rockets? LOL I’m not even sure my Spurs are better than the Rockets, given that Tim Duncan isn’t getting any younger.

    • nycalldayz - Sep 18, 2013 at 12:52 PM

      Your comment is laughable and not in a comedic may, but more like stupid. Better than the Spurs? If u wanna believe the Rockets are better than the Knicks, Nets, Clippers or Grizzles; fine but I would disagree with that too. But better than the Spurs? Get real! Ducan maybe old, but at least he can hit free-throws and the occasional jump-shot unlike Howard. lol

  5. nycalldayz - Sep 18, 2013 at 1:01 PM

    Right now the Rockets are paper contenders just like every other team that revamped there roster this off-season. The reality is Miami is still the team to beat, as much as I hate to admit. Miami are the 2x defending champs. Fact! People on here and elsewhere can assume, argue, suggest or predict until blue in the face, but the game is played on the court not podcast, blogs or television. Just being honest.

  6. dysraw1 - Sep 18, 2013 at 1:43 PM

    the Rockets should think about being top five out west first

  7. shuttaman1990 - Sep 18, 2013 at 2:37 PM

    Rockets are a joke of a franchise with an invisible shooting guard that tends to disappear during important games. Along with a overrated point fraud, and a joke of a center who reached his peak the only time he went to the finals(and guess who smacked him?)
    Only Good player is Chandler Parsons.
    Lakers all day everyday

    • antihypocritz - Sep 18, 2013 at 9:19 PM

      “Lakers all day everyday.”

      Lottery, baby.

  8. borderline1988 - Sep 18, 2013 at 4:00 PM

    I think we should be reserving judgement on this Houston team.

    Howard hasn’t been all that good for the past 3 seasons. The Lakers stunk last season, even with an all-world 2 guard and another 7 foot forward/centre (the exact same core makeup as the Rockets have now).

    Houston will not crack a top-5 seed in the West unless Howard returns to his 2009/2010 form.
    Even then, a lot of things have to gel. The perimeter defense has to step up to allow for Asik and Howard to totally own the paint.

    And of course, there’s pairing two 7footers who both can’t score more than a few feet away from the basket.

    There’s no question they’ll be good, but one of the better teams in the West? I’m no sure.

    • bougin89 - Sep 18, 2013 at 4:34 PM

      Say what you want about Howard acting like a baby and holding the Magic hostage, I think he deserves the scrutiny for that, but in what world has he not been all that good for the past 3 seasons?

      • kb2408 - Sep 18, 2013 at 4:52 PM

        I wouldn’t say he hasn’t been good the last three seasons. However, has he gotten any better? Or has he regressed? He definitely hasn’t gotten better. If anything his game has stagnated. Most truly elite players are noticeably better at this stage of their career. Not Dwight. What area is he noticeably better in?

      • bougin89 - Sep 19, 2013 at 9:52 AM

        Well, I was only replying to the comment that he hasn’t been very good the last three seasons.

        BUT I’ll play devils advocate just for the hell of it. 3 seasons ago he was an absolute monster in the playoffs. He’s never really played better basketball in his career. The last 3 seasons he’s been averaging quite a few steals per game for a center, much more than he did in his previous seasons and until last season he was turning the ball over less. Also two seasons ago he averaged the most rebounds per game in his career and even though he was destroying the team with distractions he was playing extremely well until he was injured. Last season he clearly wasn’t 100% physically and looked frustrated all season. Call me crazy, but I believe he will bounce back.

      • antihypocritz - Sep 18, 2013 at 9:18 PM

        The world in which people don’t watch games.

  9. jimsjam33 - Sep 18, 2013 at 5:21 PM

    Your goal should be to make the play-offs . Forget about Championships just yet .

  10. nyfinest314 - Sep 18, 2013 at 10:47 PM

    Did Rockets GM Morey forget the Rockets will be a halfcourt team with D-12 who is methodical in the paint… Lin doesn’t strive in half-court offense, he is better in a MDA running offense

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