Injuries are capable of destroying a team's season. At the same time, they are something that is expected, and good teams can overcome injuries by reserve players stepping up and performing at a higher level. While rehabbing injuries is an important part of training, it is even more important for players to be ready to play every night.
The Houston Rockets have been relatively injury free thus far—knock on wood. However, there are still a few concerns this early in the season.
So what is new on the Rockets injury front? Continue on to find out.
Smith, who the Rockets signed last season after going undrafted, sprained his left foot in the season opener against the Detroit Pistons and has been questionable ever since.
Smith missed the next four games but suited up again against the Pistons on the 10th of November. Despite only playing 12 minutes in that game, Smith did not play in Monday night’s contest against the Miami Heat.
While his status is still unknown, Smith remains in a battle with Cole Aldrich for minutes behind starting center Omer Asik. Smith will need to come back healthy and in shape if he wants to stay on the active roster and beat out Aldrich. Asik has been playing very well, and Aldrich was acquired in the James Harden deal, so Daryl Morey likely has plans to develop Aldrich.
Royce White’s anxiety and attitude problems are causing a major ruckus in Houston.
According to the Houston Chronicle, White has displayed frustration over his playing time:
White has not played in any game this season and has been on the inactive list for the past four games. Morey told White in those meetings that other players had earned playing time before him. White, however, argued that he was not given enough opportunity to demonstrate that he could earn a place in the rotation, increasingly saying the Rockets were holding his anxiety disorder against him and that he was being treated as a commodity, a position he has repeated in tweets following Tuesday’s reports about White missing practices.
White was absent from practices on Saturday and Tuesday and did not attend Monday’s game against the Miami Heat.
Currently, White is being fined for each day he is away from the team and for failing to attend therapy sessions with a specialist the Rockets have arranged for him.
As if things could not get worse, White issued a statement (via Houston Chronicle) on Tuesday discussing his openness about his anxiety disorder, adding that the Rockets were using his disorder against him:
At this point, the Rockets are aware of my position and the reason for my absence; any other response is inaccurate. This is important to me; it is a health issue. I must advocate for my rights; it is a player-commodity league—the failure to meet my requests for support will end with me being unhealthy, and that is not a consequence that I am willing to accept to play any sport.
While his potential and skills allowed him to become a lottery pick, he is not off to a great start in Houston. There is no doubt that executives and scouts around the league are taking notice to his actions before even playing in a regular-season game.
White still has plenty of time to correct his mistakes, but consistent drama like this will make it hard for him to stick in the league.
Rockets head coach Kevin McHale has taken a leave of absence from the team in order to deal with a family matter. GM Daryl Morey addressed the situation in a statement on the team's website (via Businessweek):
Kevin is a devoted family man who is needed back home in Minnesota at the moment. The Rockets organization will keep Kevin and his family in our thoughts and prayers during this difficult time.
There is no timetable set for McHale’s return, and assistant coach Kelvin Sampson has been named interim coach in the meantime.
Houston is 4-4 as of Wednesday night and are playing well despite McHale's absence.
James Harden continues to thrive as the Rockets' star player. Additionally, Jeremy Lin is playing well in McHale's pick-and-roll offense to begin the season.