Training camp may have just begun for the Houston Rockets, but there's already plenty of news and gossip surrounding the team in the early going.
The journey to the playoffs starts now for Houston. General manager Daryl Morey constructed a deep roster this offseason, and training camp is where it all begins. The team needs to build chemistry as a unit in order to achieve its goals and perform to the best of its ability.
The goals this year are to climb the ranks of the Western Conference and establish the team's standing as a top team in the conference for years to come. A core of Dwight Howard, James Harden, Chandler Parsons and Jeremy Lin is certainly capable of doing so.
Training camp news can often get swept under the rug, so this will help to keep you up to speed on what's going on in the early stages of Rockets camp.
Injuries Abound (None of Which Are Major)
The Rockets are already pretty banged up, but none of the injuries seem serious at all.
Howard was injured most recently. He was sent for X-rays to check on a sore foot that had kept him from practicing, according to CBS Houston. It was simply precautionary, and no broken bones were reported. He shouldn't miss much time, but don't think the Rockets will rush him back to action.
The center position seems pretty vulnerable right now for Houston, as Omer Asik, Greg Smith and Marcus Camby also all went down this week, reports Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle. That leaves Jordan Henriquez as the only active center in camp.
Asik is suffering from a strained calf muscle, Smith is nursing a strained right hip, and Camby will miss the rest of the week because of plantar fasciitis.
Feigen also reports that Francisco Garcia sat out practice last Sunday to rest his groin muscle, but he has been practicing since.
None of these injuries should worry the Rockets, though taking it easy with Howard is certainly optimal. Camby may miss time if this injury lingers, but he wasn't expected to be a big part of the team anyway.
Jeremy Lin Working to Perfect Three-Point Shot
Jeremy Lin shot 33.9 percent from three last season, but Feigen reports he worked hard during the offseason to make his shot from deep "smoother." Presumably, Lin is looking for a bit more consistency in an offense that is going to give him a ton of open looks on the perimeter.
While the work began during the offseason, the transformation into a more consistent three-point shooter will continue through training camp.
Lin struggled at times last season, as it was clear his lack of involvement as a facilitator got to him. He seems willing to evolve into more of a spot-up shooter, and that bodes well for the Rockets moving forward. The point guard will still get some looks running the offense, but we all know Harden will control the ball when he's on the court.
If Lin can get that three-point percentage up near 38 or 39 percent, that will represent a big-time improvement for an already potent Rockets offense.
Rockets Release B.J. Young
The Rockets wasted no time in making their first roster move of training camp, as Feigen reports the team released guard B.J. Young on Wednesday.
An undrafted free agent out of Arkansas, Young was signed to a three-year deal during the offseason. He played well in the Orlando Summer League for Houston, shooting 51.6 percent from the floor en route to 11.8 points per game.
Young is a skilled guard with decent size for the position, though he is not nearly polished enough to play regularly in the NBA. Cutting him was a surprising decision, but perhaps the team's intention is to bring him back for the D-League.
With a wealth of guards already on the active roster, Young would not have seen any playing time had he stayed at the NBA level.
Howard Looking to Improve Free-Throw Shooting
Howard isn't looking to simply improve his free-throw shooting—he's looking to shoot at a level of respectability.
Jenny Dial Creech of the Houston Chronicle reports that Howard is improving in hopes of shooting near 80 percent from the charity stripe this season. Free throws have been everything but charity for Howard in the past, as he owns a career 57.7 percentage.
That represents just one of his very lofty goals, cites Creech, as he also wants to improve the Houston community, win an NBA title and bring home Defensive Player of the Year honors. In due time, that all seems legitimately possible.
A few extra points from the free-throw line are always nice, but Howard should not let this goal detract from the ultimate goal of meshing with his new teammates. His personality will make that happen on a personal level, but the team's on-court chemistry needs to be up to par when the regular season begins.