He may not be getting a whole lot of playing time when the season first tips off—as management is planning on taking things very slowly with their All-Star center’s return—as Houston aims to have him healthy for postseason play.
If they can reach the playoffs, that is.
That’s where the whole question mark surrounding Shaquille O’Neal and his possible return for another season comes in.
Would signing Shaq automatically make the Rockets contenders?
No. O’Neal is much older now and won’t have that type of impact on the game.
However, having Shaq around as a teammate and mentor would work wonders for Yao Ming.
So, if you ask the question—COULD adding Shaq to Houston’s roster push them towards playoff-form and into postseason play?
Yes. That’s highly possible.
The Rockets have a damn good team as is.
I truly believe picking up Kevin Martin from the Kings will end up being a great trade for Houston.
They also have young stars in the making in guys like Aaron Brooks and Chase Budinger.
Not to mention the likes of Trevor Ariza, Luis Scola, Shane Battier, Kyle Lowry and a handful of other guys just waiting to be called into the game and produce positive results.
But they’re right on the cusp—as proven this past season when Houston just barely missed postseason play and wound up with the No. 14 pick in this summer’s NBA Draft.
What can they do to push past that line and into the playoffs?
The Rockets have the right pieces in place, and as long as they maintain a priority of re-signing their current stars while also looking to add some solid big men to their roster—both through free agent signings and the upcoming draft—they very well may be heading to the playoffs in 2011.
And if Shaq decides to postpone retirement, don’t be shocked if Houston inks him.
Denton Ramsey may be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org