Rockets Shore Up Center Depth, Sign Samuel Dalembert

One day, reports say Samuel Dalembert is headed back to the Sacramento Kings. The next day, he's set to become a Houston Rocket. That gosh darn 24-hour news cycle is one heck of a bugger, you guys.

From ESPN's Marc Stein:

The Houston Rockets have reached terms on a new contract with free-agent center Samuel Dalembert, according to sources close to the situation.

Sources told ESPN.com that Dalembert has agreed to a two-year deal. The value of the contract was not immediately known.

Later, Yahoo! Sports' Adrian Wojnarowski tweeted the numbers: It's a one-year, $7 million deal with a team option for the second year for the same price. If Houston declines the option, they'll pay Samuel $1.5 million and be done with it. Apparently, Dalembert turned down more money in Sactown to come play in Houston.

Ladies and gentleman, in a year where Kwame Brown is getting paid $7 million, this is a fantastic deal.

Houston certainly had its eyes beyond Dalembert. We've talked Nene and Pau Gasol to their Internet forum deaths. The great thing about this deal is, early reports listed Dalembert's projected figure around 4 years and $40 million -- an absurd number -- but the Rockets smartly waited out the process until it became clear they could sign the Haitian (Almost) Sensation to a shorter, cheaper contract.

Dalembert doesn't solve all of the Rockets' problems and isn't as herculean a defender as some believe, but he's a definite upgrade and can step in and start right away. Hasheem Thabeet clearly wasn't ready for big minutes and Jordan Hill isn't starting-center quality. Now, Hill can comfortably return to the four or come off the bench at the five -- either option is a better fit.

While Dalembert answers questions on the floor, there will surely be plenty of head-scratching elsewhere. "Occupy Losing" enthusiasts were surely looking forward to seeing Thabeet and Hill get slaughtered on defense and on the glass every night. Now, with Sam on board, there's a chance the Rockets could (gasp!) make the playoffs, or at best, finish in that familiar, depressing nine-hole.

We can't forget, Leslie Alexander isn't in the business of losing or tanking, and while losing may be an ideal way to rebuild this franchise, the Rockets are a little too close to being competitive to simply blow it all up THIS season. Maybe next year it will happen. Dalembert will be gone if that's the case, so to me, it's a smart signing. Morey acted in the best interest of his owner and he managed to snag a positive addition as a mere filler.

(Keep in mind: For those pointing to tanking this season given the immense draft talent... the Rockets have four picks. If they can package all four, they're potentially looking at a healthy lottery choice, regardless of where they finish.)

By far, the two most important takeaways in this deal: Length and length. Dalembert's contract length gives the Rockets a nice short-term fix while they continue to look for a permanent option, while Dalembert's actual length gives Houston a boost in the rebounding department, where they were sure to suffer so long as Hill held the starting job. Dalembert's ability to block shots will be a welcomed addition, but his rebounding skills will go a long way towards limiting second-chance points for opponents.

It wasn't the prettiest offseason, but as many have said before: The failed Pau Gasol trade may serve as a blessing in disguise. Houston got its size and got it for cheap without affecting future plans. We'll see how it pans out on the floor.

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