Friday Links: A Stab At The Rockets' Opening Day Depth Chart

/I have to cut how many players?

With the Rockets holding onto all of their draft picks, signing multiple free agents, and getting back multi-player packages in sign-and-trades for their own free agents, the roster is looking very crowded. The team will head into training camp with some twenty players vying for fifteen spots on the roster, creating some healthy competition.

Today, we'll take a stab at predicting how that roster will look, this prediction of course barring a Dwight Howard or Andrew Bynum acquisition.

Point Guard:

Starter: Jeremy Lin

Backup: Shaun Livingston

Traded/Cut: Toney Douglas, Scott Machado, Courtney Fortson

As I wrote earlier this week, I believe Shaun Livingston can and will win the backup point guard position. Toney Douglas can defend, but his offensive output was awful last season. In a rebuilding year, the team might want to hold onto Scott Machado, a potentially promising rookie, but the odds are always against undrafted rookies.

And Lil' Wayne is just not an NBA player. I'm sorry to see him go.

On another roster, both Douglas and Machado would probably hang around, but it's a tough climb for both of them to stick.

Shooting Guard:

Starter: Kevin Martin

Backups: Jeremy Lamb, Gary Forbes

There is a pretty decent chance that Kevin Martin gets traded this season, but I think the Rockets are inclined to wait for Martin to re-establish his value before putting him on the trade market. Lamb will have every opportunity to win minutes early in the season, and if he emerges early, that could shift the timeline of a Martin trade earlier.

Forbes is nothing much more than some quality depth, but he can be counted on as a quality wing at either the shooting guard or small forward position.

Small Forward:

Starter: Chandler Parsons

Backups: Gary Forbes, Marcus Morris

Chandler Parsons staked his claim to this position with his excellent play last season, and I have few doubts that he can continue to perform well. Where it gets interesting is finding minutes after him. I believe that McHale will opt for three-guard lineups from time to time with Martin and Lamb on the floor together, but when the Rockets play a traditional lineup, I would be willing to bet that Gary Forbes wins the backup small forward job out of training camp.

Marcus Morris was horrific as a rookie and didn't do much at summer league to dispel claims that he's already a bust.

Power Forward:

Starter: Patrick Patterson

Backups: Donatas Motiejunas, Terrence Jones, Josh Harrellson, Royce White, JaJuan Johnson

Cut/Traded: Diamon Simpson, Jon Brockman, Sean Williams

This is where it gets messy. Patterson is the de facto starter at the four because of his past play, but the minutes behind him are all up for grabs. The team is extremely high on Motiejunas, and his summer league play reflected that. I'd expect him to take up the bulk of the backup power forward minutes.

Finding time for promising players like Terrence Jones, Royce White, and JaJuan Johnson will be a challenge. The Rockets value each of them highly, but there are only so many front court minutes to go around. Expect to see some players playing out of position (Patterson and Motiejunas playing some center, most notably) to try and squeeze some more minutes in for these players.

Center:

Starter: Omer Asik

Backup: Greg Smith

Asik, as you probably know, was the Rockets' number one priority going into free agency. If his small minute samples translate into success in a larger role, Asik could be getting upwards of 30 minutes per game on a team starving for a legitimate center. If he flounders, however, the Rockets will be fielding a patchwork job at center, with Donatas Motiejunas and Patrick Patterson filling in big roles at the pivot.

Greg Smith played well in short minutes last season and seems poised to become a legitimate backup center. He is in danger of being cut if he performs poorly, but I expect he'll make the team.

Daryl Morey has 15 spots to fill, and many tough decisions ahead. Because of his ridiculous depth, expect to see a number of minor trades involving these players and protected second round picks in the coming weeks. Let's just hope that Morey makes the right moves.

Jump for your links!

Off-Season Evaluations

Good, Bad, Ugly Of 2012 NBA Offseason - ESPN
John Hollinger runs down the 2012 Offseason for ESPN Insider. Here's an excerpt:

[On the Rockets and Magic] Let's call this grade an incomplete for the both of them. It seems inevitable that at some point this summer Howard will be traded, and that his most likely destination is Houston. In the meantime, Houston left itself with an intriguing roster that has plenty of options and plenty of potential and, by the way, a real risk of going something like 25-57 if Lin doesn't excel and a Howard deal doesn't happen.

Teams Left Smiling From NBA Offseason | The Point Forward
A good rundown on a few teams that excelled this offseason from Zach Lowe.

Olympics

LeBron James Asked A Fellow Athlete To Eat With Him, Got Shot Down - CBSSports.com
*LeBron James joke here*

2012 Olympics -- Melo Leads Record-Setting Team USA Barrage - ESPN
Marc Stein reports on an unbelievable performance from Carmelo Anthony that lifted the US to a dominating win against Nigeria.

Melo’s Nature, Manu’s Decision, Australia’s Swarm And Britain’s Brothers: Thursday’s Podium Games | Yahoo! Sports
Dan Devine has a great story on a few Olympic highlights for Yahoo! Sports.

Around The League

Ultimate Rockets " Will Morey Or Luhnow Be More Successful In Rebuilding?
Randy Harvey on the Rockets and Astros' rebuilding efforts.

The Orlando Magic Admit That, Yeah, They Want To Be Really, Really Good Like The San Antonio Spurs | Ball Don't Lie
The Spurs model and the OKC model keeps coming up. One common thread? Homegrown talent coming in via the draft. Gives a lot of credence to those who believe the Rockets will have the best offer when all is said and done.

On Size, Space & Shaking Up The Status Quo | Hardwood Paroxysm
Jared Dubin has a great story on the shifting of positional roles in the NBA and International ball.

Rockets Video Of The Day

(via clutchfansDOTnet)

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