There's a lot to be said about the upcoming free agent period for the Rockets. They have tons of cap room and aren't afraid to offer the right player big money. Morey has rolled out the red carpet for Chris Bosh, Carmelo Anthony, Dwight Howard to name a few. Taking a flight to setup a midnight meeting with Howard or Andrew Bynum might be the wrong move.
With Omer Asik making a name for himself as one of the best defensive centers in the NBA, chasing after a "superstar" center to replace him would be silly. We have all been through wasted seasons of playing the "Is Yao or Tracy going to be healthy this year" game. I sincerely hope the Rockets don't mortgage their future on Bynum. Howard is the best big man in the league, but that hasn't seemed to help the Lakers win ball games - and besides, he has not shown any interest in playing for the Rockets.
Before looking at potential additions to the team, let's look at the Rockets as presently constructed. When the Rockets are firing on all cylinders, they are a dominant offensive team. As a casual observer (if you can call someone who's seen every game on Leaguepass, "casual"), their two main deficiencies are consistency and defense.
Other than Harden, you never know who is going to step up and be the #2 guy. One night it's Parsons, the next it's Lin or Delfino. Is Asik going to pull down 18 rebounds, or is he going to sleepwalk his way into foul trouble? It's one of the problems of having a young team, especially one with little veteran leadership.
The second problem is defense, especially when Asik is not having a good game or when he's off the floor. And defense is nothing if you can't grab the defensive board.
One way to solve the defensive problems - our old friend Chuck Hayes. Good defensive bigs are hard to come by, and we all know what the Chuckwagon can do on defense. Sacramento is dumping salaries, and Morey could easily absorb Chuck's $5.6m per year contract - if he's willing to give up some cap flexibility to win ball games.
The consistency issue can be solved by signing a real #2 option. A consistent scoring power forward. As much as I like what I'm seeing from DMo, he still needs a lot of work (primarily in the weight room, and conditioning). Thomas Robinson needs at least a full offseason, summer league, and training camp before the Rockets can make a viable assessment on what he can contribute. Terrence Jones looks like he's been in McHale's doghouse since the regular season started. Royce White really hasn't lit up the D-League, shooting 24% from the field and 33% from the FT line in 3 games.
Who can fill that role? David West or Al Jefferson. West may want to stay in Indiana, where they're currently the 2nd best team in the NBA. Jefferson however, has ties to McHale (who traded for and coached him). Neither is known as an elite defender, but both are consistent scorers and can get the Rockets easy baskets. Both can hit mid-range jumpers to space the floor, or post up their man when the game slows down.
What about Paul Millsap? He's undersized at the PF position, does defend well but is more of a role player than a #2 option. Some team will probably overpay him, but hopefully it won't be the Rockets.
And Josh Smith? Freak athlete who could run the floor, rebound, and block shots. He is what the Rockets hope to get from Thomas Robinson. But you have to take the good with the bad, and the bad is a tendency to take low percentage shots and a questionable attitude. Smith will want a max contract. Some team will probably offer him one. But whichever team does, will be overpaying for a borderline All-Star.
What about the backcourt? Well, sorry to burst anyone's bubble - but Chris Paul is not joining the Rockets. Harden is not going anywhere, and the rest of the point guards are not much of an upgrade over Jeremy Lin. Brandon Jennings (volume shooter - averages 18.5 points on 16.7 shots per game and 40% shooting, inconsistent), Jeff Teague, Tyreke Evans are all restricted, which means the Rockets would have to overpay to prevent their teams from matching. JJ Redick is available, and would be a great role player coming off the bench - but there are plenty of teams willing to overpay for his services.
Would adding Chuck Hayes and either Jefferson or West be enough to get the Rockets to a 50-win season in 2013-14? Would the line-up be any closer to getting into the top-4 in the West and ultimately some playoff success?