When looking at the Houston Rockets’ team needs for next season, I really couldn’t find a whole lot. The Rockets seem to have everything a team needs. They have playmakers, shooters, rim protectors, energy players, perimeter defenders, and depth. The only potential hole I see for next year is a reliable post player – assuming Nene doesn’t come back…
They have two quality starting guards in James Harden and Patrick Beverley – and both will be backed up by two quality reserves in Lou Williams and Eric Gordon.
They have a terrific 3-and-D wing in Trevor Ariza, and he is backed up by two quality young and cheap wings in Sam Dekker and Troy Williams.
They have a floor-spacing power forward with a deadeye shot in Ryan Anderson, and he is backed up by another floor-spacing young player in Kyle Wiltjer. And the previously mentioned Sam Dekker also fills in as a floor spacer.
They have a quality starting rim protector in Clint Capela, and he has a quality energy big backing him up in Montrezl Harrell. Nanu Onuaku serves as a promising young rim-protector to provide even more depth.
So about the only thing missing is a big with a reliable post game – which is being filled this year by Nene. I’m not sure if Nene will be back next year, and I’m thinking this is the one area we will look to address after the season.
The salary cap is expected to be at $102 million, and the Rockets are locked into about $90 million already.
That leaves about $12 million to spend on a quality big with a post game. Who might be available? I’ll take a look at some of the names we MIGHT have a chance at (which leaves out Blake Griffin)
- Serge Ibaka: He wets my appetite quite a bit. He’s making $12 million this year, but I’m pretty confident he will get a raise – and be priced out of our range. It’s a shame… he hits 3’s and defends, and he would fit perfectly as a backup to Anderson OR Capela – what a weapon off the bench he would be on our team. I’m not sure of his relationship with Harden – maybe it’s great and he would take less to be on a true contender. It would be significantly less though. If Ryan Anderson can get $20 million a year, I think Ibaka gets offered at least that.
- Amir Johnson: This might be the guy we end up getting. He does a little bit of everything. He hits 3s, he can finish lobs, he can find cutters, and he can post a little bit. He actually reminds me a little bit of Nene, with an actual 3 point shot but not quite Nene’s post game. He’s making $12 million this year, and that seems about like what he will get. Already a 5th option in Boston, he might want more than being a 5th option here though.
- Zach Randolph: Another legitimate possibility. He’ll be 36 and will likely receive less than the $10 million he’s getting this year. His game actually reminds me a lot of Nene.
- Taj Gibson: Not a sexy player, but he knows how to be productive coming off the bench – a very solid all-around big. He’ll be 32 next year and will likely get offered around what we have available.
- Patrick Patterson: It seems like PPat has been around forever, but he’s only 28. I would love to get Patrick back here. He plays hard with a great attitude, and stretches the floor while also providing good size.
- James Johnson: This is a very underrated player that I have wanted to see in a Rockets uniform for a long time. His postgame is quietly one of the best, and he is actually a playmaker who could get us some easy offense in times when shots aren’t falling. I don’t understand why guys like him and DMo don’t get starter’s minutes. They can get any shot they want in the post.
- Donatas Motiejunas: Speaking of DMo, maybe there’s a chance his back looks better to Morey after this season. I’m not sure if DMo would want to come back, but we could use him off the bench.
There are a few other names, like Tiago Splitter, Jonas Jerebko, and Roy Hibbert. But I don’t see them getting much playing time with the guys already on the team.
Daryl Morey has never been afraid to blow up a team…and always seems to be two steps ahead. He might do something unforeseen. As I do, he might see that Kyle Wiltjer is a capable replacement to Ryan Anderson at a fraction of the price, and thus trade Anderson.
But the last time the Rockets were really good, Morey had a quiet offseason and basically brought everyone back (after the ’15 playoffs). We are really good this year, so I’m expecting more of the same.