As the Houston Rockets begin a new era, it looks like they’ll field a new lineup.
According to Alykhan Bijani of The Athletic, the Rockets are committing to former Sixth Man of the Year Eric Gordon in the starting lineup.
Because the Rockets want floor-spacers alongside Russell Westbrook and it just so happens that Gordon is the best player not named James Harden that the Rockets have in that category.
“What will help Westbrook is playing alongside multiple floor spacers. D’Antoni has been working with his staff throughout the offseason to tailor his offense to optimize Westbrook’s strengths. Westbrook will be paired with Eric Gordon for a majority of his minutes, especially with the second-unit. A team source told The Athletic that Gordon is also very likely to start this season alongside Harden and Westbrook.
“The idea is to have an elite athlete on the floor to rebound the basketball and create offense in transition. With more space, Westbrook will have increased possessions where he can be unpredictable and take proper advantage of his speed and utilize his array of hesitation moves.”
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Eric Gordon Became a Fixture in Starting Five Last Season
During Gordon’s first two years in Houston, he came off of the bench. However, last season he became more of a fixture in the starting lineup, starting 11 of the team’s postseason games and 53 of his 68 appearances during the regular season.
Although the Rockets have been a contender over the last several years, they’re entering the 2019-20 season with a new roster — and new hope. Houston traded away Chris Paul to the Oklahoma City Thunder for Westbrook.
While that itself is a major change in personnel at the point guard position, an even bigger deal is the fact that the Golden State Warriors are vulnerable for the first time during their dynasty run. The Warriors enter the 2019-20 season with no Kevin Durant and no Klay Thompson due to injury.
For those that have been sleeping under a rock for the past five years, the Rockets have been ousted in the playoffs by the Warriors in four of the past five postseasons.
With the Warriors out of the picture — Houston’s biggest roadblock over the years — they no longer have to worry about an overly dominant team standing in their way.
The Westbrook-Harden pairing is an interesting one because the potential is obviously there for the Rockets to finally crack the glass ceiling and win a title. However, the potential is also there for the bottom to fall out and for the Rockets to disappoint — especially with two vastly different personalities in Westbrook and Harden teaming up.
Will the Rockets be able to co-exist with their new point guard and a new guard in the starting lineup? It remains to be seen, but that’s the challenge that the 2019-20 Rockets will face.
Nene’s New Deal is for Two Years; Second Year is Non-Guaranteed
The biggest news out of the Rockets front over the last several days was the re-signing of veteran big man Nene. After it had appeared that the 36-year-old would not be returning for a fourth season with the franchise, the Rockets surprisingly brought back the big man on another contract earlier in the week.
Now we’re learning the details of his new contract. According to Jeff Siegel of Forbes and Dime, Nene has a two-year deal with Houston with the second year being non-guaranteed. The second year becomes guaranteed if he is on the roster past February 15, 2020.
Nene appeared in 42 games last season while averaging 13.0 minutes per game. The former lottery pick has played 17 NBA seasons and has averaged 11.3 points and 6.0 rebounds per game in 965 games and 626 starts.
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