Jeremy Lin makes Rockets debut ... kind of


Jeremy Lin makes Rockets debut ... kind of

From Comcast SportsNetHOUSTON (AP) -- Jeremy Lin is finally getting his own bed.The 6-foot-3 point guard, who became an international phenomenon during one dazzling month with the Knicks last season, went through his first workout with the Houston Rockets on Tuesday.Naturally, he drew a horde of media to the Toyota Center, evidence that Linsanity has plenty of life left in it."I don't know if I'm the face of the franchise just yet," Lin said. "I think we're a young team and we're all going to buy in. The thing about us is it's not going to be any one person that's going to carry us to where we want to go, it's going to be everybody. I think it's so early on, I'm just trying to get to know the guys."Lin was waived by the Rockets last December, then picked up by the Knicks. He was hesitant to buy a home and slept on teammate Landry Fields' couch the night before his breakout game against New Jersey on Feb. 4.Lin signed a three-year, 25 million contract with Houston over the summer. He arrived on Monday -- but first asked teammate Chandler Parsons if he could "crash" on his couch until he bought furniture.He finally feels secure enough to settle down."I've got to get that bed in there, so I can sleep well tonight," Lin said.The Rockets acquired Lin over the summer by outmaneuvering the Knicks in free agency.New York coach Mike Woodson said the team would match any offer to re-sign Lin and he would be the starter heading into training camp preceding this season. Lin originally signed a four-year, 28.8 million offer sheet with the Rockets, but the team revised its offer and made it three years and 25 million, with much of the guaranteed salary earmarked for the third year.The extra money would've pushed the Knicks over the luxury-tax threshold in 2014-15, so New York backed off.The Rockets held Lin's introductory press conference on a stage on the practice floor at the Toyota Center to accommodate a huge media throng. Lin is American-born, but his maternal grandmother is from China and he has Taiwanese parents, so the event also drew a large contingent of Asian media.Lin toured Asia this summer, running a four-day basketball camp in Beijing and visiting Taiwan for the first time. He's also had the chance over the past few months to catch his breath and reflect on his whirlwind rise to worldwide stardom."Every once a while, I'll take a look back and just be like, I can't believe this is happening,'" Lin said. "I had one of those moments this morning, in the training room, with the big Houston Rockets logo. It was just like, I was just appreciating the fact that I get to wake up and play basketball for a living. And even the whole NBA thing, yes Houston, (but) just (to) be able to play basketball for your job, like those are things I remind myself of every day."The Rockets, meanwhile, were just happy to get Lin back after releasing him in training camp with Kyle Lowry and Goran Dragic ahead of him on the roster. The Knicks claimed Lin off waivers two days after Christmas, and he was put at the end of their depth chart at point guard.Lin was briefly relegated to the developmental league, then recalled when Baron Davis postponed his return from a herniated disk in his back. That's when Linsanity exploded.The undrafted free agent out of Harvard became the first player in league history to average 20 points and seven assists in his first five games. He scored 38 points against Kobe Bryant and the Lakers one night, then drained a game-winning 3-pointer against Toronto on another, and helped the Knicks rally for an eventual playoff berth.Lin seemed to be a perfect fit for Mike D'Antoni's up-tempo system, but D'Antoni resigned in mid-March. Lin's numbers dipped and the Knicks revealed on April 1 that Lin needed surgery to repair a meniscus tear in his left knee and would miss six weeks.Lin recuperated in his native California and said Tuesday that he was back playing basketball within two months. He dunked for the first time since his surgery in July, continued to train and says he's shed 10 pounds since last season."I feel good, I feel healthy," he said. "I feel lighter. I'm excited."The Rockets, entirely rebuilt after a flurry of offseason moves, have their practice on Oct. 1. They'll spend their first full week of training camp in Rio Grande Valley, home of their developmental league affiliate, and will play Oklahoma City there on Oct. 10.Lin met most of his new teammates for the first time on Tuesday. While Lin has had a most unusual NBA career already, he's still only 24 and acknowledges that he still has a lot to learn."Last year, I actually had a real season under my belt, where I got to play and see what works and doesn't work," he said. "Definitely, you want to lead by example, more so this year than last year, or the year before, coming in as a non-guaranteed guy. Now, there's more stability, so I need to be more of a vocal leader and hopefully lead through work ethic and example."

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Despite summer of change, here are 10 safe bets for 2016-17 NBA season

Despite summer of change, here are 10 safe bets for 2016-17 NBA season

The NBA will look pretty different this season: Kevin Durant is a Warrior, Derrick Rose is a Knick and three all-time greats – Kobe Bryant, Tim Duncan and Kevin Garnett – have retired. 

A flurry of changes over the summer were deceiving though, because when the NBA regular season opens in five days, a lot of things will be exactly as we left them. 

If you're a betting type, take a look at this list of 10 safe wagers for the coming year. 

1. The Cavaliers and Warriors will 3-peat in the Finals – LeBron James is the NBA Finals at this point. Book his 7th trip. As for Golden State, the team has four max level players in its starting five. And now they're angry from last year's championship loss. Who's betting against them? 

2. Which brings us to Charles Barkley, who will bet against the Warriors because ... they're a jump shooting team. He already went in on the 2016-17 Dubs a few days ago. "They're going to still be shooting jumpers ..." And so it begins. 

3. There will be at least one Snapchat scandal. I feel really good about this call. Nick Young is still in the league. D'Angelo Russell is still in the league. And there will be dozens of rookies (including Diamond Stone). Everything could go wrong. 

4. John Wall will be an All-Star. Two summer knee surgeries? No problem. The Wizards point guard looked dynamic as ever in preseason action, slicing to the basket at will. There's no reason he shouldn't make his fourth All-Star appearance. 

5. The Spurs will be great. Yes, the Big Fundamental is gone. There has been some rumor of San Antonio considering trading LaMarcus Aldridge. But don't forget about Kawhi Leonard and last year's 67 wins. Even if the Spurs regress by 10 wins, they're still very good. 

6. Drake will attend games in Cleveland, Los Angeles, Houston, Miami, New York, San Francisco and Toronto, at minimum. Did I forget any cities the rapper could potentially party in or claim as his own? 

7. Carmelo Anthony will wear a ridiculous hat to a game. Melo has a slideshow on his own website titled "The 7 Best Hats Melo Has Ever Worn." He'll probably take 20 shots per night, too, but let's stick with one Melo prediction per listicle, shall we?

8. Knicks fans will demand Phil Jackson be fired. If the Rose trade does not work out, or the Triangle Offense doesn't work out, or Melo plays like he's 32 ... there are too many scenarios in which New York fans might burn Jackson in effigy. After all, every Knicks fan is an amateur GM who thinks they could do a better job. 

9. Russell Westbrook will give Kevin Durant the stink eye at every opportunity and barely deny it. No one in the NBA has a better mean mug than Westbrook. And Russ has all but admitted he's pissed at Durant for leaving the Thunder without speaking to him about it. But really, this is good news for everyone else. An angry, kamikaze Westbrook is the most fun kind of Westbrook. 

10. Fans will rabidly defend Michael Jordan and the 1995-96 Chicago Bulls. At some point, some person somewhere will compare someone and/or something to Michael Jordan and/or the 1995-96 Bulls. What a mistake that will be. Even breathing MJ's name will be perceived as a grievous sin against the history of American sport. It will not be tolerated. And basketball Twitter will mete out justice. 

MORE NBA: Brooks believes rest is key to success

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Redskins one of the best in NFL at preventing long plays

Redskins one of the best in NFL at preventing long plays

The Redskins do not have what anyone would call a dominant defense. They are last in the league in rushing defense, allowing 5.0 yards per carry. Despite recent improvement they still are 30th in the league in opposition third-down conversions. But, somehow, they have managed to keep the opposing team out of the end zone in the second half of each of their last four games and have allowed only one touchdown in their last 10 quarters.

One of the things that they are doing right is not allowing many big plays. They have given up only four plays that gained 30 yards or more. Only the Vikings, who have one of the top defenses in the league, have allowed fewer such plays.

To compare, there have been 277 plays of 30+ yards this year, so the average team has given up 8.6 long plays this year. Last year through six games the Redskins had given up 13 long plays.

Last Sunday in the fourth quarter the Eagles’ Carson Wentz threw to Jordan Matthews for 54 yards. That was first play to gain more than 50 yards against the Redskins all year. The Patriots are now the only team that has not given up a 50+ yard play.

Taking away the long play forces offenses to steadily drive down the field. Each snap in a drive increases the possibility of a drive-killing mistake like a penalty, a dropped pass, or a turnover.

Defensive coordinator Joe Barry had a simple explanation for the team’s ability to take away what he calls explosive play.

“When we have gotten hurt it's because of missed tackles, we've talked about that especially in the run game,” he said. “We preach, let's not beat ourselves. Let's not give them anything, make them earn everything.”

Another factor has been an improved secondary, the last line of defense.

“We've been very consistent not only have good young players but also veteran guys that understand football,” said Barry. “Even though Will Blackmon is playing a new position, he's played a lot of football. Same thing with Donte [Whitner] coming in here, brand new to the system, he's still hearing things on a daily basis that are still new to him but he's a football player. He's played a ton of football, so that helps in that regard.”

In addition to the field position gained, big plays are often momentum swingers. If the Redskins can keep preventing other teams from getting explosive plays they can go a long way towards becoming a solid unit.