4 most compelling storylines headed into Rockets Media Day
Media Day is basically the NBA’s version of the first day of school crossed with picture day. All 30 teams, including the Houston Rockets, are starting off at 0-0 records, so there’s an enthusiasm and energy to get the season started. Players, coaches, and executives all talk about how outside expectations and perceptions don’t matter, but it’s well understood that everyone has a chip on their shoulder for one reason or another. Since everyone is usually in a good mood, this is usually the best time for someone like me and fellow media colleagues to prod about compelling storylines and get near-candid answers (nothing is ever fully candid in the NBA).
The Rockets are no different. Just like last year, there are a lot of compelling storylines to dig into.
1. John Wall
It’s understandable why the Rockets and John Wall both want to go different directions, but the team is still going to get asked about it. From a league-wide perspective, it’s the most compelling storyline the Rockets have going on. People want to know how the decision was reached so quickly and there’s uncertainty as to whether or not Houston will find a suitor for Wall. There’s also the question of whether or not the Rockets would ever consider a buyout this season. GM Rafael Stone is very tactful about what he says to the media and since this was a mutual decision, he probably has prepared remarks or answers to questions ready.
2. An important season for Kevin Porter Jr.
I’m actually not sure how others feel about this, but to me, Kevin Porter Jr. has quickly become the most compelling storyline for the 2021-22 Houston Rockets. The Wall move signifies that Houston wants Porter Jr. to be their starting point guard and they don’t want anyone interfering with his usage.
That’s a big test for a 21-year-old who was just traded for nothing a few months prior, but he also has a lot of financial incentive to perform. Not talked about enough is how Porter Jr. is extension eligible after this season. Typically, players that show flashes of All-Star potential get the extension, and all other players try their hand at the restricted free agency game.
Porter Jr.’s play will be indicative of what camp he falls into and it’ll be interesting to see what he has to say about it at Media Day.
3. Jalen Green’s rookie year
This shouldn’t be news for Jalen Green, but when you’re the second overall pick in the draft and proclaim that you should have gone number one, you put a giant spotlight on yourself. Not only has Green said multiple times that he aims to win Rookie of the Year, but he had a stellar performance at NBA Summer League, so there are a lot of eyeballs on the Rockets for him alone. This was a great draft class and Houston picked Green over other players that also have All-Star upside so there’s a lot of pressure on both parties for Green to look like a stud in his first season.
I believe most other people have Green as the most compelling storyline for the Rockets this season and they’re perfectly justified doing so. Both Rafael Stone and Stephen Silas will receive questions about Green’s play this season. Additionally, Green is probably the favorite for the longest player press conference.
4. Eric Gordon’s possible last Media Day as a Rocket
It’s not hard to predict how Eric Gordon’s story ultimately ends in Houston. The moment P.J. Tucker was traded to Milwaukee, it didn’t take a genius to guess what veteran player was next. Odds are, Gordon will be moved to a playoff team by the February trade deadline for a first-round pick. The franchise has steered heavily in favor of a youth movement, drafting four 19-year-olds this past July and agreeing to move on from John Wall just last week. Gordon has been nothing but a consummate professional in Houston and he’ll likely stay that way on Media Day.
However, the obvious questions will be asked and it could get uncomfortable.
While there will be some awkward moments, Media Day is usually really fun – for both fans and media. Everybody wants to get the 2021-22 season underway and it’s nice that the NBA is finding new normal after the past two years. The Rockets are especially happy to leave the past behind them entering the new season.