Posted by: sportsandbeans | September 20, 2006

Another Guard?

Miloby Milo

The Houston Rockets are serious. Bonzi Wells is strangely serious. The two camps met each other last Monday, and Wells expressed his deep interest in the team especially with the Yao and McGrady tandem. Even if the offer on the table is good for one year and the contract is only a few million dollars due to the luxury tax threshold, Wells is still considering the Rockets as the team he would sign in, hence his recent trip to the Rockets camp.

But where would he fit in the rotation especially since the Rockets are stocking up on guards like crazy?

Let’s take a look in the revamped and updated roster of the Rockets. Yes, this list still needs trimming since the Rockets are over the 15-man roster limit. Under the new Collective Bargaining Agreement, each team is required to carry 12 players on its active list and at least one player on its inactive list, three max.

Guards: Rafer Alston, Bob Sura, John Lucas, Tracy McGrady, Luther Head, Kirk Snyder, Kelenna Azubuike, Vassilis Spanoulis, Casey Jacobsen, and if it falls through, Bonzi Wells.

Forwards: Shane Battier, Steve Novak, Ryan Bowen, Juwan Howard, Chuck Hayes, Matt Haryasz

Centers: Yao Ming, Dikembe Mutombo.

Eighteen great athletes under the Houston roof, nine guards are currently under contract. It’s pretty interesting to see how the Rockets will handle the rotation should they add Wells to their roster.

Let’s see.

Their starting roster, I predict, will be as follows: PG Alston, SG McGrady, SF Battier, PF Howard and C Ming. Who becomes their second lineup is still shrouded in mystery. Knowing this mercurial athlete via his past performances in the NBA, if Bonzi Wells comes in Houston, it might even disrupt the first roster due to his ego — he might not want to come off the bench.

Bonzi WellsHowever, by adding Wells, it will provide the Rockets a grizzled veteran, and another shooting option apart from McGrady and Yao. Battier could also chip in points, but is best at defense. That offense triumvirate may be complete with Wells.

Alston, Sura, and Lucas are probably their top 3 main point guards. Shooting guards will be Head, Snyder, Azubuike, Spanoulis and McGrady. Jacobsen will most likely be relegated to the small forward position. Wells, maybe can be placed under the SG and SF positions.

Probably, Van Gundy is looking for a player to backup McGrady in case T-Mac goes down with another injury for the nth time. If Wells comes in, Snyder and Azubuike maybe on the bubble here for a roster spot.

They’ll probably move Steve Novak to 4, to play behind Howard creating more space for the 3 spot since it can be Wells’ position too. Matt Haryasz may be on the bubble as well.

And yes, most of these guards can play either 1 or 2, with some, also 3. The only true points are Alston and Lucas. This can be a good thing, as the Rockets are ready in case injuries strike and provides them enough flexibility to rotate. It may also be a bad thing if it disrupts the rotation and the roles each player is asked to do. Just ask the young guys in New York how they felt when their coach was fielding in different line-ups each game.

As it is, the roster is chock full of guards that it is confusing on who to place in the final line-up. Yao, Battier, McGrady, Howard, Alston and Mutombo may be the only ones that are safe, and that’s six spots already out of the fifteen. If Wells comes in, he’d land a spot for sure being the NBA veteran that he is. The poor young guards will have a hard time fighting for playing time. There may be problems for the Rockets in the future should the young guys fail to develop due to this glut in the guard rotation.

I remember Luther Head and his contributions when Barry, Alston, Sura, and the other guards were down with injuries. He was a stellar performer, contributing in points, steals and assist that he was instantly an immediate pick-up in the fantasy world. However, when Alston came back, his minutes were cut like crazy, playing only for 5-10 minutes each game as though his contributions meant nothing. And to think Van Gundy praised this guy for bringing the energy the team lacked.

But I digress. It’s really a 50-50 chance on taking in Bonzi. If he becomes ok with coming off the bench, then maybe he’ll be the best sixth man in the Rockets roster. If not, then he’ll disrupt the chemistry of the team, and Van Gundy may be forced to reshuffle his starting line-up or use him in trade talks. I can’t see Wells coming off the bench; his ego can’t take it, and he’s too much of a star to be there. So it’s probably going to be Alston, Wells, T-Mac, Battier and Yao. A strict Van Gundy should help curb Wells’ attitude problem.

One more thing, we may be seeing a different offensive flow from the Rockets this time around. This prominence of guards in the line-up brings youth and speed, much like the Suns but with a real center in Yao manning the middle. Hopefully Mutombo can catch up as well.

I just hope that it doesn’t clash with the defensive stylings of one Jeff Van Gundy.



  1. Knowing Jeff Van Gundy, he will still insist on a slowdown style despite the quantity of little people on the Rockets’ roster…if only to benefit Yao, and aging big men Howard and Mutombo.

    This will not sit well with TMac and Alston as I feel they will flourish better under an open-court, freewheeling, type of offensive system. Alston had his best year when he was with Miami under such a system. TMac had his best year statistically when he averaged 30 plus for an Orlando team that liked to run, or at least, run more than the Rockets have in the last few years under JVG.

    Another thing I feel the Rockets need is more movement without the basketball. Their men shouldn’t just stand around while Yao, McGrady, Head, or, if it pushes through, Bonzi, cuts/posts up/iso-s. With more motion comes more opportunities for open shots, and a greater chance to track down loose balls.

    It goes without saying that Houston should eschew the injury bug, but I think in the case of the Rockets specifically, this fact must be reiterated. With TMac and/or Yao, goes the ship. Just look at what happened last season. It doesn’t help that the Rockets are nestled in the ultra-competitive Western Conference, either.

    These are just my ten cents on the H.R.’s situation for the upcoming season. 🙂

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