Sunday, October 5, 2008

Houston.....You Have a Problem

There's good news for Houston Rockets and Tracy McGrady fans - there will be no first round playoff exit this year.

Simply put, Houston won't make it that far. The Rockets championship window of opportunity has closed. Slammed shut. Bolted, locked and then sealant has been put over the frame, just to make sure that no air of hope can breeze in.

With a suffocating 0-7 playoff record, Tracy McGrady has shown - beyond doubt - that he simply isn't capable of taking his team to the next level.

McGrady's best days are behind him. He lacks the explosiveness he once had and while he still has a smooth jump shot, his body is worn out. Hell, he's already booked in for surgery on his shoulder NEXT summer !

Entering his 12th year as a pro, McGrady has never played in a full 82-game season. The closest he came was four years ago - his first in Houston - playing 78.

Then there is Yao Ming. No athlete in the world - including Tiger Woods - has as many demands placed on him as Yao does. He always handles himself with class and dignity, but his body is also succumbing to injury. In the last three seasons, Yao has missed 82 regular season games with various ailments.

Yao will battle again this year. He's 28 now and each year, he recovers just a little bit slower than the last. Certainly 28 years old is not over the hill, but because of his unusual height and size, his 'real age' is probably closer to 32 or 33.

Houston then went and added Ron Artest to their roster in the summer, believing that his experience and toughness was what the team lacked last year.

Bad move.

The Ron Artest act has worn thin. Yes he can defend and yes he can provide an offensive punch, but he is not the guy the Rockets need.

Before he even arrived in Houston, he was jawing with Yao.

Artest's downside heavily outweighs his upside. He is never too far from saying or doing something that distracts himself or his team. Signing him is a desperate move but one Houston was prepared to make because he is entering the final year of his contract, so they aren't stuck with an ugly, heavy contract if (when !) things go wrong.

The Rockets tried to re-energize former star man Steve Francis last year by bringing him back to Houston. I for one, thought he still had some miles in the tank, but apparently, he doesn't. Sure he had some injury concerns again, but even when Francis was healthy, he just has forgotten how to play the game of basketball.

It's been sad to see him fall so far, but one has to wonder if karma has played a part in his career after seeing Francis' reaction when he was drafted by the Vancouver Grizzlies in the 1999 draft.

So that's it Rockets fans, no need to fret about failing in the playoffs this year, your team isn't good enough in the tough Western Conference to even make it.

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