Rockets combo forward Terrence Jones, who is reportedly a trade candidate, has had his playing time reduced after the acquisition of Josh Smith. Jones has struggled mightily lately, something interim coach J.B. Bickerstaff blames himself for, Jonathan Feigen of The Houston Chronicle notes. “He’s had a tough streak and I think it’s because of the trade that we made, the inconsistent minutes,” Bickerstaff said regarding Jones. “He hasn’t changed his routine. We had early success with Josh coming in. We won those three games in a row so Josh was getting more and more of those minutes. I’ll take the responsibility for his inconsistency because his minutes have been inconsistent. That’s on me. We have to blend those guys. When healthy, we have a lot of bigs that can help and contribute. Terrence believes in himself. We believe in Terrence. His confidence isn’t wavering.”
Jones readily admits the role change has been difficult for him, Feigen adds. “It’s tough not knowing and it’s tough to mentally prepare,” Jones said. “I’m just trying to … get wins. Whether he is comfortable playing me the first four minutes or the last four minutes, I can’t control that. The only thing I can control is being there for my teammates and going as hard as I can when I get in. But I definitely believe it’s hard to have a strong roll with inconsistent minutes.” The 24-year-old is eligible to become a restricted free agent after the season.
Here’s more from Houston:
- The NBA suspended Dwight Howard one game for shoving the arm of an official during Saturday’s game, as the league announced and as Feigen reported (Twitter link). The punishment costs Howard $203,267 but saves the Rockets about $150K in projected luxury tax payments, notes Bobby Marks of The Vertical on Yahoo Sports (Twitter links). Houston has saved about $725K in projected tax this season through suspensions to Lawson and Howard, Marks adds.
- The more games the Rockets play without Kevin McHale on the sidelines, the better the former coach looks, Jerome Solomon of The Houston Chronicle opines. The team entered the 2015/16 season with unrealistic expectations based on McHale getting more out of the roster last season than he should have, which then led to his termination after that level of performance wasn’t replicated this campaign, Solomon adds. Without McHale, whose ability to balance old-school values alongside managing modern player egos was underrated, the team has taken on a propensity to blame outside forces for its woes, the Chronicle scribe argues.
Chuck Myron contributed to this post.