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8.30 The Cooler

Capt. Jack, Monta trade rumors; Houston’s post-Yao strategy

By 08.30.09
Stephen Jackson

Stephen Jackson

An early-morning rumor out of Dallas says the Mavs and Warriors are on-deck to start up some trade talks, likely involving Stephen Jackson and/or Monta Ellis. When Captain Jack told Dime he wanted to be traded, he did say “anywhere in Texas” as a preferred destination. But as we’ve said before, it’s not about what Jackson wants, especially when he’s got a long-term, big-money contract that’s hard to move. Enter Monta. He and Nellie haven’t exactly been getting along (shocker), and seeing as Nellie reportedly loves Stephen Curry, Monta could be expendable in his eyes. No idea what the Mavs would be willing to give up to get either Jackson or Monta, though, so for now it’s really just a one-sided rumor … Who knew they were so optimistic over at Rockets HQ? In yesterday’s Houston Chronicle, GM Darryl Morey put a positive spin on what’s suddenly turned into a rebuilding project only a couple months after the Rockets stretched the eventual champion Lakers to seven games in the playoffs. “We’re going to be up-tempo, fun to watch, young players easy to root for,” Morey said. “It’s exciting. I think it’ll be fun to watch the team group up and grow together, all in a style we’re trying to move to. You’re going to see us playing the way coach would rather play.” … Translation: Although Yao Ming‘s 20 points and 10 boards will obviously be missed, Rick Adelman is using Yao’s absence to have the squad running like his early-2000s Kings and late-’80s/early-’90s Blazers used to. Even when Yao was in the picture, the Rockets often had success with their younger, faster lineup on the court pushing the pace, and now that Aaron Brooks is coming off a semi-breakout postseason and Trevor Ariza has been added, should be even more effective going up-tempo. We’re not saying they’re better without Yao — just different. Perhaps a not-so-bad kind of different … Still no word on who’s gonna start at center, though. Luis Scola is the best player amongst those who can play the five, and he played center when Houston went small last year, but he’s a natural four. Euroleague import David Andersen, undersized and comically bad free-throw shooter Chuck Hayes, and possibly-too-jacked-for-his-own-good Joey Dorsey are the remaining candidates. (What’s worse: Hayes’ shooting form, or Charles Barkley‘s golf swing?) This makes it even more of a shame that Dikembe Mutombo had to end his career on that freak knee injury, because had he been around to hold the job for Yao, this would’ve been a nice retirement tour for him … T-Mac is said to be ahead of schedule in his injury rehab, and has been working out with Tim Grover in Chicago, the guy who trains D-Wade and who used to train Michael Jordan. Even if he does have a monster year, we have the feeling the Rockets are gonna let McGrady walk in free agency — or if they do attempt to re-sign him, it’ll be for a big pay cut. Mac’s $23 million coming off the cap gives Houston a lot of room to go after a big-time free agent, and we’d bet one of their top targets will be Texas native Chris Bosh … Scola put up 20 points in Argentina’s win over Panama at the FIBA Americas tournament yesterday, Argentina’s first win after opening pool play with two straight losses. Granted, they don’t have Manu Ginobili, Andres Nocioni, Carlos Delfino or Fab Oberto, so it’s pretty much that same JV team that Scola had to carry in this same tourney a couple years ago (when he got MVP despite Team USA destroying the comp throughout) … Other notable stat lines from FIBA Americas: Charlie Villanueva dropped 28 points and 12 boards to lead the Dominican Republic past Venezuela, while Francisco Garcia added 21 points, and Al Horford had 14 points and 12 boards; Gustavo Ayon posted 16 points, 15 boards and six blocks in Mexico’s win over the Virgin Islands; and Esteban Batista‘s 18 points and 12 boards helped Uruguay knock off Canada … Carlos Arroyo has been putting in work at the FIBA tourney for host country Puerto Rico, averaging 19 points and seven assists while PR has gone undefeated in three games. After a season playing pro ball in Israel, Arroyo is now in talks with some NBA teams about coming back to the League. The Bulls, Bucks and Celtics are reportedly in the mix. Of those three, Boston makes the most sense. Milwaukee (Ramon Sessions, Brandon Jennings, Luke Ridnour, Roko Ukic) and Chicago (Derrick Rose, Kirk Hinrich, Jannero Pargo, Lindsey Hunter) could have as many as four PG’s on their rosters for next season; the Celtics still need somebody to fill that hole Stephon Marbury temporarily filled last year, the one that makes it so Eddie House doesn’t have to pretend to be a point guard when he passes less often than an inconsiderate stoner … We’re out like Chuck’s free-throw form …


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