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Jeremy Lin, Rockets face uphill battle; Grizzlies unable to improve over offseason (NBA Western Conference preview)

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SB Nation Chicago's 2012-2013 NBA season preview is here. Dennis Tarwood takes a look at the Houston Rockets and Memphis Grizzlies.

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Houston Rockets

The Houston Rockets are an object lesson in probability and another reminder to Chicago Bulls fans to be humble about their station this season. The Bulls pulled Derrick Rose's draft slot out of their 1.7% ping pong ball hole, saving them from the Rockets' asset acquisition free-for-all by giving Jerry Reinsdorf and Friends the star to build around (but not too much lest money be spent). The Bulls' front office politburo never had to work as hard as Rockets GM Daryl Morey, who made 67,234 trades and acquisitions in the last 24 months.

The last two offseasons' flailings have left coach Kevin McHale with a veritable navy of misfits, miscreants, and mysteries. Cobbling Jeremy Lin, Omer Asik, Jeremy Lamb, Kevin Martin, Patrick Patterson, and the occasionally grounded Royce White into a ragtag band will be doubly frustrating because there's no reason to believe this roster has solidified at all. Kevin Martin will stay on this roster until he shows a solid three weeks' results to the league.

While Bulls fans gnaw on their fingernails waiting out Rose's return, remember that your team could easily be the Rockets. Hell, Daryl Morey will trade you the Rockets for the Bulls and 16 first round picks. What's the probability you'll go for that?


Pictured: Daryl Morey preparing to sell Jimmy Dolan a case of Dingle Hoppers.

Rockets prediction: 15 bobblehead nights and The Legends Series, six celebrations of former Rockets greats who are willing to show up and accept a little statue in return for boosting attendance by 2,000.

Memphis Grizzlies

Imagine you're working in the mail room for a company with a personnel logjam, leaving you zero opportunities for a promotion within the mail room. Forget about getting out of the back room for a long time.

But then Phil from Accounting gets caught canoodling on the copier with Alice, the brunette with the gum-snapping tick in the cubicle adjacent from you. Now her position's open and Yolanda down the hall slides into Accounting when everyone there moves up a slot.

Sadly, you need this to happen about six more times before you escape the drudgery of schlepping packages around the office. Everyone acknowledges you're productive at an above-average pace, though your tendency to take sick days at the worst possible time seems to hurt your case for the big prize. At least you're not in Custodial Services, you tell yourself, but what do you need to do to break free from the middle floor?

The Memphis Grizzlies have a new owner, newfound health, and another year of team and personal growth. However, no one's coming through that door to add a skill set that makes them champions due to sizable contracts and the new collective bargaining agreement. Therefore, they need to show up for work every day and hope:
  • Steve Nash ran out of the Phoenix training staff's magic elixir in the move to Los Angeles
  • Tim Duncan returns to King Arthur's time to cure cousin Darrell Arthur for good
  • the Oklahoma City Thunder are all felled by injuries caused by laughing too violently at Kendrick Perkins' "I'm being totally serious and morose here, guys" face
  • the Denver Nuggets run themselves out of the gym (literally, causing a series of forfeits)
  • and the Los Angeles Clippers forgot to fire Vinny Del Negro in the offseason.
So that's one down. And did we mention that LeBron James has to be convinced again that the low post is hot lava?


Pictured: Just another Grizzlies season kicking off.

Grizzlies prediction: Another second-round exit but numerous opportunities for Memphis TV stations to fête their new celebrity masters with fawning interviews