Rockets Bracing for Trade
This is the time of year where trade rumors run rampant. Some teams look to trade to get rid of bad player contracts, some are looking to create a new mix of players on their teams and some are looking for that final piece to their championship puzzle. The Houston Rockets are no different, finding many of their player’s names coming up in the rumor mill and they are not surprised.
"You never have too much depth in this league and we have a lot of good players on this team," said Shane Battier. "I don’t think we have enough minutes to keep everybody happy and that’s the problem that coach has, but that’s a good problem for him. We have a lot of good players, young players who people are interested in, so I’m sure Daryl Morey is fielding a lot of phone calls about guys on our roster."
Without question, hearing the rumors can become a distraction and that is why having veteran players who understand the situation is important for any team. In this day and age of social media, it is nearly impossible for players to completely keep themselves away from it all, no matter how hard they may try, and finding a way to rise above it is imperative.
"It’s not always about you playing bad," said Kevin Martin. "A lot of times it’s about a contender trying to upgrade to make their team better, so of course they’re going to go after a top player from another team. You have to look at it like that, also. You’re just getting respect.
Without Yao Ming, the Rockets do not have that All-Star player to build around, although their roster is full of above-average players. That is why their names come up in rumors, as the entire roster could be a great secondary piece to a championship puzzle, but not the primary focus of a team’s attack. That is why the team finds itself linked to Carmelo Anthony and the story that will not go away.
"To win big in the playoffs, you need a horse," said Battier. "You need an All-Star and your All-Star has to produce to win big in this league. You can be competitive with depth, but to ultimately win big you need All-Star type players."
Being involved in trade rumors does not need to hurt a player’s confidence. In fact, a lot of times it can be looked upon as an honor. Kevin Martin knows this better than most of his teammates after arriving in Houston only last season. Looked upon as a fine piece to add around Yao Ming, he now finds himself yet again a topic of trade talk and it does not shake him at all.
"I think every player handles it differently," said Martin. "For myself, I’ve learned a lot of things over the past year-and-a-half about this business of basketball. After being in Sacramento for five-and-a-half years and how quickly that can turn in just a manner of over 30 games, so you have to just look at it as if it’s a business. You just try to be a professional with it. I have confidence in myself and it doesn’t matter if I’m here or wherever I’m at because I’m going to be the best player I can be and my team is always going to know they’re getting the best out of me."
The true professional is able to hear the rumors and continue to accomplish what he must for his team. Throughout all of the talk, the team has come out the victor in four of the past six games.
"It’s about being professional," said Battier. "You have a job to do and you’re going to do it to the best of your ability, knowing that GM’s get paid a lot of money to try to do what they feel is in the best interest of their team. It’s not personal. Every now and then it might be personal, but for the most part, it’s not personal. I look at it as if your name is in a trade rumor it’s a good thing because it means somebody wants you. You’re in trouble in this league when the phone stops ringing about you."
There is hope for the future in Houston. General Manager Daryl Morey has accumulated many assets in youthful players already on the roster and coupled it with draft picks and financial flexibility to be in the situation they find themselves in now, which is a player in both the coming trade deadline and free agency.
"We have a lot of potential," said Battier. "We have some really good young players on this team that have a chance if they work hard, stay healthy and have the right attitude, can take a step up in level. We haven’t shown the consistency this season that we need to show to win more games than we have, but the potential is there."
The mettle of the Houston team and fanbase has gone through a test during the 2010-11 season, but adversity brings strength. The Rockets, both the front office and players, remain committed to bringing a winning brand of basketball to their fans and the first step is in bringing the proper effort each night.
"We feel like, as a team, we’ve been hit with everything and we’ve just been fighting and fighting," said Martin. "As a group of guys, we’re coming to play each night, no matter what injury hits us or whatever trade chatter is out there. That’s what we try to do for the fans of Houston."
Some pieces are in place. Now tough decisions need to be made.