Houston lost Yao on Nov. 10, and sank to a 5-12 start. By then, rumors were swirling that Morey was ready to shake up the roster, and that virtually everyone was in play for a possible trade leading up to the Feb. 24 deadline.
Leading scorer Kevin Martin conceded that the Rockets were distracted by the early uncertainty.
“Going into the season, 90 percent of the people on the team felt like a trade asset,” Martin said. “Everyone’s looking over their shoulder. That’s not going to get you anywhere.”
The Rockets traded point guard Aaron Brooks to Phoenix and forward Shane Battier to Memphis at the deadline. Houston went 17-8 after the All-Star break and set an NBA record by missing the playoffs for the fifth time with a winning record.
Martin averaged 23.5 points, ranked third in 3-pointers (176), shot 89 percent from the free-throw line and tied Kevin Durant for the most made (594).
Point guard Kyle Lowry excelled late in the season, and became the eighth player in team history to record at least 1,000 points (1,011) and have 500 or more assists (500) in one season.
Chuck Hayes, at 6 feet 6, developed into a dependable low-post defender, flustering taller players such as Kevin Garnett and Blake Griffin with his powerful lower body.
Hayes is a free agent, and wants to stay in Houston, but admits that he’s worried.
“I’m scared,” Hayes said. “I hate the fact of not knowing. My parents will tell you, I hate surprises. Might as well just give it to me straight. I’m just worried and scared, because I don’t know what happens.”
And the Rockets seem to feel the same way about Adelman.
“That’s the No. 1 thing we need to address,” Martin said. “They all know how we feel about Coach Adelman. We just want him here.”