TRADE ALERT: Rockets trade Ryan Anderson to Phoenix for Marquese Chriss and Brandon Knight

 

Chalk this up as news I did NOT expect to see… The Rockets have been shopping Anderson since last offseason in hopes of shedding his massive 18mil per year salary that does not expire for another two seasons. We knew that in order to move him the Rockets would have to sweeten the deal, likely with a 1st round pick. However, Daryl Morey worked his magic once again and in stead sent recent 2nd round draft pick De’Anthony Melton along with Anderson. The return is interesting to say the least. The Suns are sending back combo Guard Brandon Knight (and the two year/30mil left on his contract) and athletic forward Marquese Chriss. Initially, it’s hard to see where either guy fits in the rotation. Brandon Knight could be a solid backup to Chris Paul and will likely be used primarily to decrease the load on Paul in the regular season. However, it’s difficult to see him taking meaningful back court minutes away from Eric Gordon, Paul, or (obviously) James Harden. Chriss on the other hand could very well play a large role under Mike D’Antoni, but I wonder where and how he will be used. He’s not a shooter, so on the surface he seems like a perfect fit as Clint Capela’s backup. Nene is old and was not particular good last season, so there could be a need there. However, the Rockets did sign 2017 draft pick Isiaih Hartenstein earlier in the offseason. Hartenstein is a skilled big man that can stretch the floor pretty well. The other option would be starting Chriss at the 4 and sliding PJ Tucker back to Small Forward. This would obviously mean Melo comes off the bench, and it’s still unclear whether or not he’s okay with that role. But the defensive potential with Chriss and Tucker at the forward spots is pretty enticing.

Whether or not either new addition plays a major role in the upcoming season, Daryl Morey was able to shed salary and add two potential rotation players without giving up a draft pick. That’s impressive. Big picture though, the Rockets were already title contenders. While this move does improve the roster, I don’t think it moves the needle much for them. When you have a roster that’s good enough to win a championship, the next step is becoming prohibitive favorites. I do not see this move making the Rockets that. What it does is add balance to an already championship quality roster.

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Season Preview: Texas Tech

kingsbury

It’s hard to believe that Kliff Kingsbury is now 39 years old and entering his 6th season as the Head Coach at Texas Tech. He accepted the Head Coaching job at his alma mater with tons of momentum, but the combination of bad hires, awful defense, and bad luck both on the field and the recruiting trail has Kliff firmly on the hot seat entering the 2018 season. For Tech fans, you could say Kliffs entire tenure has been a big “what if.” What if Kliff had hired David Gibbs as his Defensive Coordinator in stead of Matt Wallerstadt when he took the job in 2013? Would Tech have fielded a defense competent enough to do the Pat Mahomes era justice? What if Jerrett Stidham never de-comitted? Assuming he stayed at Tech as Mahomes’ backup, he’d be entering his second year as the starter in Lubbock. While these are factors, the fact remains that through his first five seasons in Lubbock, Kliff simply hasn’t gotten the job done. At least not yet.

Texas Tech entered the 2018 fall camp with a QB competition between junior McLane Carter, sophomore Jett Duffey, and true freshman Alan Bowman. While a starter has yet to be announced (don’t expect an announcement from Kliff), most expect McLane Carter to be the guy leading the Red Raider offense Saturday morning against Ole Miss. Carter made his first and only start last season in Austin. He struggled for 2.5 quarters and was replaced by Nic Shimonek, who started every other of the season. Carter doesn’t have the raw talent of the other QBs competing for the job. Jett Duffey is a dual threat playmaker with tons of speed and athleticism. Alan Bowman is prototypical Texas Tech QB. He’s a big kid with a strong arm, he’s primarily a pocket passer, but has enough athleticism to scramble if he has to. However, Carter is a plus athlete and throws an accurate ball. And while his arm strength looked below average against Texas last year, I don’t think it’s fair to judge him off of just one game. If McLane has won the job as expected, its safe to assume its for one main reason, decision making. In the Big12 conference, a team that can take care of the ball has the advantage. In such high scoring games, one lost possession can cost you a game. Its rare that Texas Tech starts a game manager at QB, but thats likely what McLane Carter is. And although Kliff is firmly on the hot seat, I think he has earned the benefit of the doubt as far as the QB position is concerned. As far as the rest of the offense goes… The offensive line returns all of its starters and should be solid. Deleon Ward is back at RB after a disciplinary redshirt season in 2017. He’ll likely split carries with Tre King, who proved formidable last season. At WR, expect to hear a lot of new names. Led by TJ Vasher (shout out Wichita Falls), I expect enough guys to step up and make plays. Some other names to look for at WR are Zack Austin, Seth Collins, Ja’deion High, Antione Wesley, Dequan Bowman, Kesean Carter, and Dante Thompson (TE).

The main reason that it just might make sense to go the game manager rout at QB is something that fans in Lubbock aren’t used to… For the first time since before the Air Raid era, the strength of this team might just be its defense. David Gibbs has proved to be one of the best DC’s in the conference and this is the first season since he arrived in Lubbock that he has a fair amount of depth at every level of the defense. Tech has 11 returning starters and even more returning contributors. The defensive line looks solid at every position. Inside, Broderick Washington and Preston Gordon are expected to start, with big Joe Wallace, who had a nice freshman season in 2016 and redshirted in 2017, getting significant playing time as well. Wallace may be the most talented of the group and I would be surprised if he’s not one of the main contributors on the line this year. On the ends, the combination of Eli Howard, Kolin Hill (OLB), Tony Jones (OLB), Lonzell Gilmore, and Nelson Mbanasor will hope to get a consistent pass rush. Whether or not they can do that is probably the biggest question mark on this defense. Tech plays the majority of their defensive snaps in Nickel, which means they typically only have two true Line Backers on the field together. That group is the strength of this defense though. Jordyn Brooks is coming into his 3rd year starting at Tech. Rico Jeffers played really well as a freshman last year and will get plenty of playing time this year as well, either as the 3rd true LB on the field in the base defense, or rotating in as Brooks’ backup in the Nickel package. The other starting Line Backer is, in my opinion, the key to this Tech defense. Dakota Allen is in the conversation for best LB in the Big12 and is a real candidate for Big12 DPOY in 2018. These three Line Backers are the most talented group I’ve seen in my 15 years following Texas Tech football. In the secondary, Gibbs has a handful of guys that will rotate in and out. Jah’Shawn Johnson is back for the last season of what has seemed like never ending career, he’s a 5th year senior that has been a consistent playmaker for this defense for the past 4 seasons. Also getting playing time at Safety will be Vaughnte Dorsey, Thomas Leggett, and recent UT transfer John Bonney. At the Corners, expect to see 5, maybe 6 different guys out there. Names to watch are Demarcus Fields, Des Smith, Douglas Coleman, John Davis, Adrian Frye, and Quincey Addison. The last piece of this defense came out of nowhere last season. Justus Parker walked on and eventually earned playing time as a Nickel Back. Parker was one of the best defensive playmakers in the conference by the end of the 2017. Expect to see him all over the field this year.

It goes without saying, this is a crucial season for Kliff Kingsbury. He finally has a defense talented enough to compete in the Big12. All he has to do is make sure this offense even sniffs Texas Tech standards. They don’t necessarily need to score 45 points a game, but this is still Texas Tech! This is still a Kliff Kingsbury offense. In order to return to Texas Tech for a 7th season, I believe Kliff needs to lead this team to an 8-4 regular season. I think thats an attainable goal. But with a tough non-conference schedule (Ole Miss, Houston) it’s no guarantee. A lot depends on QB play. If McLane Carter (or whoever starts) can lead this offense to reach the standards at Texas Tech, I think they reach 8 wins. However, if the QB cannot take care of the ball consistently, or if the defense hasn’t taken that step that I believe they have… It could be another 6 win season.

 

BONUS- In case you need a reason to root for Kliff…

CFB Playoff Prediction.

I have tried to predict these every year since the beginning of the playoff system. Some years have been decent for me, I think I have gotten 3 out 4 right once or twice. Last year though… Yikes! I did correctly predict Clemson and Alabama would return to the playoff once again. However I did not predict either would make it back to the Title game. See, this is an absolute crap shoot. Nobody knows whats going to happen outside of a couple cases (those cases are typically Clemson and Alabama). Because of this fact, I always pick one team to come out of nowhere, shock the CFB world and reach the playoff. Last year, that team was Penn State. I actually didn’t think that would be much of a surprise, but friends of mine laughed at me when I told them that Penn State would not only make the playoff, but win the Title. We were SO close to having the last laugh in this one. But it’s hard to have bragging rights when the team I predicted would lose to Penn State in the Title barely made a bowl game and had one of their worst seasons in my lifetime. That team was Florida State… So last year wasn’t great for me, but I’ve regrouped and I’m ready this year. So here it is, the 2019 College Football Playoffs will be….

1. Georgia vs 4. West Virginia

Yeah, I told you I like to pick one surprise team. WVU is that team for me this season. Will Grier will be a Heisman finalist, David Sills is probably the best WR in the country. There are some real questions on defense, but thats true for many teams on their schedule and I think they can win enough shootouts to go 12-1 and win the Big12 Championship. UGA is a much safer pick here. I think they will run the table, defeat Alabama in a de facto play-in game in the SEC Championship, and ride into the Playoff as the National Title Favorites.

2. Clemson vs 3. Penn State

Maybe I’m a sucker, but I still love this Penn State team. Trace McSorley will prove that they were more than just Saquan Barkley last year, I believe he will win the Heisman and lead Penn State to a 12-1 record after they defeat Wisconsin in what should be another de facto play-in game. Clemson seems to be a no brainer again this year. The ACC looks to be down a little bit, Miami will give them a tougher game in the ACC Title game than they did last year, but it won’t be enough. A 13-0 record will send them to their 4th trip to the playoff.

National Championship-

1. Georgia vs 3. Penn State

Georgia will need the break that comes between the conference championship and the playoff. Rested up and ready to go, they should not struggle with WVU in the semi-final. Call me stubborn, but I’ve got Penn State edging out Clemson in a classic, back and fourth shootout. So we will have an old-school matchup duking it out for the title, and I didn’t come this far to give up on Penn State here. Trace McSorley has drawn some Baker Mayfield comparisons this off-season, I think thats a fair comp, but Trace will do what Baker couldn’t and finish the job… I think! But honestly, I have no idea what will happen. Nobody does! That’s what makes College Football so special!

 

About The Blog

Lets jump right into it! Anyone who knows me personally knows how much I love sports. Playing and following sports are my only real hobbies. I also really enjoy writing about sports. Unfortunately for me, there aren’t very many platforms to write about sports. At least not the way I like to. I have been known to post aggressively long, opinionated sports takes on my personal social media accounts. But here’s the deal, nobody wants to read blog length Facebook posts… So I decided to create my own platform to talk about sports. Specifically, sports in the great state of Texas. Blogs will consist mainly of my opinions regarding top stories. Because of my loyalty to the teams I have been a fan of my entire life (Rockets, Astros, Texans, Texas Tech), those teams will obviously be the focus of many blogs. However, I want to grow this into something, so I will also blog objectively about all major sports in the great state of Texas (College, Professional, and even High School on occasions). Although Texas Sports will be the focus of the blog, I will also occasionally blog about national sports topics, and maybe even venture outside of sports from time to time. This is something I have always wanted to do, and I’m excited to get it started.

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