PAnews.com, Port Arthur, Texas

Sports

June 24, 2014

Tom Halliburton column: Stay calm, but Rockets eye LeBron

PORT ARTHUR —  This year’s NBA draft rolls onto our TV screens Thursday night at 6 on ESPN. Five days later, July 1, free-agent players can begin to discuss contract details with potential buyers. That brings us to LeBron James and the Houston Rockets. It’s a dream that becomes a reality only if several steps occur. Most of the NBA’s informed betting money expects LeBron to stay in Miami for at least another year, but it’s far from a sure thing. And if LeBron knew for sure that he was staying in Miami, I think he would have said so after the conclusion of the NBA Finals if not sooner.... The word through several South Beach sources is that LeBron’s patience has worn thin with Miami owner Micky Arison. Ranked 70th on this year’s list of Forbes 400 wealthiest Americans with a net worth of $5.9 billion, Arison is unmatched in financial strength among pro sports owners. But LBJ apparently questions Micky’s commitment to fork over a strong enough commitment for his team. Obviously the Miami franchise was inferior to San Antonio in depth of contributors during the finals....

  Dwight Howard moved our way from the Lakers a year ago, and frequently has spread the word about his enjoyment for playing in Houston as well as the merits of Rockets owner Les Alexander and his desire to bring a champion to Houston. Details on and off the court can produce snags in securing LeBron. For one thing, numerous personnel moves would have to clear payroll. For another, the meshing of LeBron’s powerful drive-in-the-paint game would not be an automatic fit with post man Howard and playmaker James Harden.... But the idea of bringing LeBron to Houston is much, much more than a wild story that your ol' Bubba just made up. NBCsports.com's website reported Friday that the Rockets planned to make an all-out push to land James. Carmelo Anthony and Chris Bosh also are mentioned and the story also indicated James was said to be weighing his options this weekend. A rival executive reportedly estimated LBJ's chances of leaving South Beach at 40 percent... But LeBron wants rings more than anything. He only has two rings from Miami and he definitely can believe that the Heat's title window is shrinking with an older Dwyane Wade and a weaker supporting cast on the roster.... Houston may appear as appealing as any NBA franchise when it comes to the opportunity for a ring... Alexander and Rockets general manager Daryl Morey openly have indicated an ambition to acquire a third top tier player to go with Howard and Harden... It could make the next few weeks most entertaining on several NBA fronts...

  Here are several NFL opinions to file away as mini-camps conclude. First, the Texans are nuts if they truly are confident Ryan Fitzpatrick has the credentials and looks the part of a top-flight quarterback. Going back more than 50 years, the NFL is a quarterback's league. You have to have one in order to be a serious week-in, week-out top-caliber team. It's amazing to me that Texans GM Rick Smith and coach Bill O'Brien intend to enter training camp, expecting Fitzpatrick to be the guy.... Second, the Saints unloaded three really valuable parts in losing runner Darren Sproles, safety Roman Harper and corner Jabari Greer. The addition of Sproles in Philadelphia probably will make the Eagles that much tougher for the Cowboys to handle in the division... Third, never in history has any rookie received as much attention as Johnny Manziel. It's unbelievable how much the NFL Network, the NFL Live on ESPN and the various channels devote to Manziel's life... Fourth, Jamaal Charles is surrounded by an arguably weaker supporting cast on offense than the Chiefs provided last year. But who needs a player like Jamaal when you can have Felix Jones... Fifth, much to the delight of certain unnamed individuals in this building, the Oakland Raiders look to be an improved franchise thanks to their off-season acquisitions... Ahh, yes, last but not least, the Cowboys. Since their owner/general manager sees significant defensive improvement, Jerry Jones should not fret if Tony Romo's back konks out before the end of September...

  On that topic, we turn our attention to the East Texas rose known as Tyler where the Cowboys definitely have fallen into disfavor by passing on Johnny Football. That is according to a billboard on Southwest Loop 323, not far from the Hwy. 155 intersection. The billboard reads: TYLER, TX IS NOW CLEVELAND BROWNS TERRITORY and shows a player wearing No. 2 (still Johnny's number) carrying a Browns helmet. Across the bottom of the billboard it reads: PAID FOR BY FORMER COWBOYS FANS. Ouch, Jerry, ouch.... Astros farmhand Domingo Santana accidentally was traded to Houston by the Phillies in the Hunter Pence deal. Anyway, the 21-year-old Santana is hitting .298 with 11 home runs in 75 Triple-A games this season, including .319 with five homers over the last calendar month. Santana has big power from the right side as well as the speed and athleticism to handle center field. It won't be long -- only a matter of weeks, likely -- before he joins George Springer and Dexter Fowler in the Astros outfield... Congratulations go out to St. Louis baseball fan Rosemary Depler of Peoria, Illinois, who threw out the ceremonial first pitch before Friday night's Cardinals game. She tossed it underhand about 20 feet. Not bad for a 101-year-old celebrating her birthday at the ballpark. Rosemary has been around for all 11 of the Cardinals' World Championship titles....

  Now here's one to motivate summertime athletes who are determined to lose weight. The Reds promoted minor-league pitcher Jose 'Jumbo' Diaz to Cincinnati just this weekend. Jumbo deserved a promotion too after losing 69 pounds during the off-season. The 6-4 righthanded reliever went from 347 to 278 in order to keep the doctor happy. He's at 269 now which means there's still plenty left in Jumbo.... A few shoutouts to special honorees. Bridge City grad Cameron Dishon of Ole Miss’ baseball team received a trophy from the NCAA at the College World Series for having the highest grade-point average of any active player at this year’s CWS.... The Longhorns certainly deserve special team recognition as well. Coach Augie Garrido’s young squad lost to Jim Gilligan’s Lamar team in a Fall Ball game and finished a mediocre fifth in this year’s Big 12 Conference race. To reach the final four in Omaha is a great accomplishment and Texas exes certainly would agree that’s where Texas baseball belongs....

 An awfully good job, as always has been delivered by the editors and writers of Texas Football magazine’s 2014 annual. The first thought to enter my mind after an initial inspection of the 400-page monster is this: It’s going to be a bigger nightmare than ever to secure stadiums for bidistrict playoff rounds. With the split of classes into big- and small-school divisions, more schools will have post-season football appearances than ever in the state’s history.... Perhaps the impact won’t be felt as much for immediate area’s playoff coaches, but the shortage of stadiums certainly is going to exist in some areas of the state..... Numerous observers have made mention of the greater interest level in the World Cup than ever before. As soccer has impacted on a larger number in younger ages, that increase only should continue and that’s terrific.... A lot of those same observers freely acknowledge that they would watch Astros games on TV right now if they had the chance. Unfortunately, that problem does not appear to be close to changing.

Tom Halliburton is The News sports columnist

1
Text Only
Sports
From the Fieldhouse blog