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Hoping For the Best For H2O But Doubtful Nonetheless

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Heard around: Allan Houston may be considering another attempt at a comeback next season.

In fact, we heard it from the East Valley Tribune, where Jerry Brown had this to say:

Houston is in the Valley to visit friend Grant Hill. But while he’s here, he also asked to be evaluated by the Suns medical staff, which has a reputation of reviving injured players’ careers. Hill and Shaquille O’Neal are the latest players to have their careers resurrected or improved by Aaron Nelson and his team, and the success stories have naturally drawn the attention of players who had careers cut short by injury.

He won’t play for the Suns, or anyone else, this season. But Phoenix did inquire about him last fall and if he were to ever improve enough to play, the Suns could be interested.

Yes, the Suns' medical staff does have an excellent reputation across the league.

Yes, I'm rooting for Houston.

But no, it's not hard to be skeptical about the idea of a successful comeback as a legitimate possibility.

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It's really too bad, because so far as class guys are concerned around the Association, Allan Houston is the type of dude you'll find right near the top of the list.

For a long time, he was a guy with the durability and attitude to show up and work every day.  What often gets lost in the shuffle is that prior to playing a total of 70 games over his last two seasons, Houston never once missed more than six games in a season over the first decade of his career, playing every game on five separate occasions.  For a long time, he played the game very well to boot, scoring 17.3 points per game for his career and shooting better than 40 percent from beyond the arc and 86 percent from the charity stripe.

The attitude is still there.  He is still one of the most well-spoken players affiliated with the league, and he is well known for his charity work, his status as a good teammate and leader and his general nature of affability.

He really is the sort of guy who makes it easy to root for him.

Sadly, believing that the game is still there is another story.

Houston will be 37 next season, and he hasn't played in the league since a debilitating knee injury forced him to retire in 2005.  This is the injury that limited him to just 50 games in 2003-04 and then allowed him only 20 the next season, despite his promises that he would be ready to roll for good for the 2004-05 season.  It's tough enough to come back in the league after taking some off, particularly a sabbatical so long as three seasons.  It's far tougher with a knee with a suspect ability to hold up, and as far as we know thus far, Houston has yet to gain the pronouncement of a clean bill of health.

Furthermore, it's worth considering that Houston's game likely isn't conducive to his making a successful comeback.  In his final two seasons, he didn't shoot the ball all that well, earning his lowest true shooting percentage figures of the decade.  Even more of a problem is that at that point, the shooting was still the part of Houston's game that mattered.  He has always been something of a one-trick pony (the guy was a very solid shooter for a long time), and that only continued in his final years in the league, as he continued to not rebound well (particularly for a guy who stands 6-foot-6) or defend anybody.

Three years later, the skills that Houston never specialized with will only have eroded more than ever.   He won't be able to rebound, and he certainly won't be able to stop the league's younger, quick two-guards.  By the latter portion of his career, he was known for having trouble even creating his own shot, and that will only be the case to a greater degree at this point.  In order for H2O to have a positive impact on the floor, his team will need to be specifically dedicating itself to using screens and lots of movement to get him open.  And given the way he shot toward the end, it's hard to see the potential reward being worth the risk.

Rest assured, this ranks very high on the list of assertions about which I sincerely hope I'm wrong.  It isn't particularly pleasant to write all of this, especially the dubious part.

Allan Houston is a dude worth rooting for, especially since he'll most likely be a dude without any affiliation to the Knicks if and when he makes his next comeback attempt.

It will be an uphill battle, but hopefully it won't be an insurmountable hill.

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