Houston's got a problem

Nearly three months after he was abruptly fired, former Houston coach Kevin McHale surfaced last week, joining Charles Barkley, Shaquille O'Neal and host Ernie Johnson on TNT's studio crew for a Tuesday night doubleheader. He commented on a Rockets team that his replacement, J.B. Bickerstaff, called "broken" after a loss at Portland the next night.

"At some times, I wish I was there," McHale said. "I really feel I could get the team turned around. I've never been around a team that I haven't been able to connect with and get 'em playing better. We were 4-7, and they let me go. But I watch them play, I know in my heart they're better than a 27-27 team. That's a .500 team. Last year we won 56 games and went to the Western Conference finals with the same exact team.

"It's in there somewhere. It just disguises itself as a bad team."

Woulda, shoulda?

Toronto guard DeMar DeRozan is a two-time All-Star now, seven years after the Wolves passed him by twice in the 2009 draft and the Raptors chose him ninth. On Wednesday, he scored 35 points in a 117-112 loss at Target Center to a team he remembers showed some interest in him.

"I just hoped I made it to the NBA at that point," DeRozan said. "I could have gone anywhere. I was just happy to get picked, and I'm glad I was that No. 9."

Tick, tick, ticking…

Thursday at 2 p.m. Central time is the NBA trade deadline, when you will know if Houston has traded Dwight Howard, if Atlanta has traded Jeff Teague or Al Horford, if New York dealt Carmelo Anthony and if Boston GM Danny Ainge has spent some of his many assets accumulated to acquire a star such as Kevin Love, DeMarcus Cousins or Gordon Hayward.