The Rockets' pursuit of Marc Gasol ended Monday almost as soon as it started.
The Rockets had offered Gasol the maximum contract they were allowed, worth $55 million over four years, and sought to engage the Grizzlies in talks on a sign-and-trade deal, but Gasol announced he had reached a tentative agreement to remain in Memphis. The Grizzlies had said they would match any offer Gasol received. He will sign a deal worth $57.7 million over four seasons.
Van Gundy blasts NBA
Former Rockets coach Jeff Van Gundy strongly criticized the NBA decision to void the Rockets' trade for Pau Gasol last week, calling it and the rush to open Christmas Day "a dark day for the NBA" and that the deal would have made the Rockets a 50-win caliber team.
"To impact the Rockets like that, with Kevin Martin and (Luis) Scola goes back and (Goran) Dragic goes back, I just find it's horrible for the Houston Rockets," Van Gundy said on Monday's ABC/ESPN media call. "Here they had in their midst a great, great player and center and they had enough depth to absorb the players going out and still be able to have enough around Gasol to make it, I think, a certain 50-win team, and to have that ripped away, just a very flawed decision.
"Nobody wants to win more than Leslie Alexander (the Rockets owner), and (general manager) Daryl Morey is as diligent and as intelligent as anybody out there. They finally were able after acquiring different assets to package those assets together to get at worst a top 15 player in Pau Gasol, and to me, the NBA office, if they were going to nullify they could have stopped it long ago. They were being fed the information. They could have done it before it was made public and said that's not working for us, as both a league office and as your owners and throw it out to the other owners to take a vote if they like that deal.
Change part of the game
Though the uncertainty remains, the Rockets had relative stability at practice. They have, however, seemed to have grown accustomed to the idea that there is a good possibility of change given the Rockets' voided trade for Pau Gasol last week and pursuit of Marc Gasol this week.
"We're trying to not let that stop us from getting where we want to go," center Jordan Hill said, "Things happen, trades. You have to be prepared, keep your head up and just work hard. We just want to go out here and do the things we have to do to help the Rockets get better."
Asked if he has played amateur psychologist under the circumstances, guard Kyle Lowry said he has concentrated on his own mindset and the expected rush to get ready for a season to start in less than two weeks.
"I got to be a part-time psychologist for myself right now," Lowry said. "It's a tough process for everybody. We have a new coaching staff, guys not knowing if they can come in.
"It's definitely rushed. You have to put the plays in, put the work in. You've got two weeks."
New additions reunited
Jeremy Lin was only a few minutes into practice when he recognized a former college rival, something that does not happen often in the NBA for someone that played his college ball at Harvard.
Lin, who was picked up on waivers from the Warriors on Sunday, matched up briefly with camp invitee Ibrahim Jaaber who was added to the Rockets roster on Monday and was a star for Pennsylvania when Lin was at Harvard.
"I played against him when I was a freshman," Lin said. "At first, I recognized his face but didn't know who he was. Then, I was like, "Oh wow.' "
Jaaber who was twice the Ivy League player of the year, recognized Lin in the locker room, but did not say anything until they were matched up on the court.
"He's a very talented player," Jaaber said. "He just realized who I was during the practice."
Jaaber, who played in Italy since college, not only remembered Lin, he remembered the results of their meeting in 2007. "Penn won," he said.
Rounding into form?
Given the limits of practice time and available bodies for most of the time on the court the Rockets have had so far, Kevin McHale has adjusted his way of evaluating progress. He has come to look at how far removed the team is had they had to play a game last week.
"If we would have played an exhibition game that second day, it would have been the worst basketball in the history of the game," he said. "Now, we're at least to the point hopefully our first exhibition game (Saturday) won't look like Keystone Kops out there. We're starting to get back, starting to get some integrity, sprint back, cover up the paint and do some stuff.
"We'll see. I may be eating my words in four or five days, but we'll find out."
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