What it do everybody? The offseason came much too soon this year. Still can't bring myself to watch "the shot" but watching San An eviscerate the Blazers lets me know how far we need to go in order to really be contenders. I'm going to take a relatively quick look at the cap, our roster, and some thoughts on a few of our more controversial players and their futures.
Here are a couple links that helped me put this together:
http://rockets.clutchfans.net/6442/houston-rockets-salary-cap-update-2014/ (say what you will, but Weiner is a beast)
http://hoopshype.com/free_agency_2014.htm (a list of upcoming free agents)
First off I have a few real concerns going into this offseason. One, and by far my biggest, is the state of our locker room. Right now we have an 8-9 man rotation of Bev, Lin, Harden, Daniels, Parsons, Jones, DMo, Dwight, Asik (with Daniels and DMo being obvious question marks going forward). The starters at sg, sf, and center are set but how we go forward at the point and the 4 are big question marks. Assuming we're successful at bringing in 2 contributors in the offseason at the point and the 4 (or Canaan progresses to where he's a rotation guy next year and we find a 4 in free agency or the draft) you're in a situation where either Bev, Lin, Jones, and DMo will be out of the rotation. We haven't seen a scenario where McHale will go more than 9 in a rotation for any consistent amount of time so assuming that trend continues you have possibly 2 fragile players dropped out of the rotation. I sincerely doubt that Bev gets demoted that far, but I don't know how Lin, Jones, or DMo would take being perma-benched if they aren't traded this offseason. Secondly, it's been a while since Morey has had a foundation in place and had to build around it. I have faith in him, but we're going to see a shift away from minimum salary guys and more to longer term deals for real money and less flexibility. I'm glad for the change, but I think the next 2 years will really determine a lot of the legacy of this iteration of Rocket basketball and I hope that Morey doesn't let the analytics and value hunting take his eye off that fact. Spend responsibly.
Ok, on to the fun stuff. The most likely scenario is us standing relatively pat. If they do decide to stand relatively pat they are basically capped out (cap at 63, they are currently at 62 mil if they don't pick up options on players that didn't get playoff PT). They will have the MLE to play with in that scenario which will give them 5.3 to play with. Here are the targets.
Patty Mills (unrestricted): Acquiring Mills would be a lot like acquiring Lowry and Dragic. Taking someone else's back up guard and handing them a larger role. I absolutely believe Mills could come in and compete for a starting job. He's young, a 42% 3 point shooter, was coached by the best coach in the game, and has a 98.3 defensive rating compared to Lin's 102 and Bev's 101.8 (of course there are all types of problems with DRtg, but I'm going with it because it's a convenient measure for this exercise). Since the league is filled with quality guards, a Mills signing need not break the bank, the team that we'd likely see the most competition from would be the Spurs but we could offer a competitive contract and the ability to compete for a starting job. He has experience on a championship caliber team, which is valuable. I think he'd be an excellent pick up.
Shawn Marion (unrestricted): The only thing not to like about Marion is his age. He's still a great defender, a reasonable 3 point shooter, good rebounder, and can give you minutes as a small ball 4. Similar to Parsons in role, but more defensive minded. He'd be an intriguing add off the bench and would serve the dual purpose of weakening a division rival. Dallas may be willing to break bread to keep him since the talk is that Dirk will take a pay cut.
Shawn Livingston (unrestricted): Very solid backup point guard that can provide some positional versatility. Very big part of the rotation in BK. Known in Houston and is said to be one of McHale's favorites.
Vince Carter (unrestricted): See Shawn Marion
Josh McRoberts (player option): Surprisingly good contributor on this year's Bobcats team. Has enough range on his shot to keep defenders honest and is a very smart passer. Won't blow you away with his athleticism but a solid player all around. Very intriguing add.
Channing Frye (player option): Another defensive sieve but the kid has range. Has some medical concerns. I don't think he opts out, but if he does he could be another good value add.
Ed Davis (restricted): A bigger bodied 4. A solid defender and rebounder, he could be a really big addition to our bench (and could give you spot minutes at the 5 in a pinch).
2Patt (restricted): His game makes me want to gouge my eyes out. Not horrific defender while being a terrifyingly bad rebounder, kid can shoot and has loads of range. You'd have to keep Asik or Howard on the court with him at all times.
Dejuan Blair (unrestricted): Great rebounder for his size and super strong. I think he'd be a great addition to the team with his grit and toughness and experience with good coaching. Some health concerns and hasn't really been a consistent rotation player.
Emeka Okafor (unrestricted): Hometown kid that is solid all the way around when healthy. Missing a year could drop his stock enough that he could give Houston a real discount on a one year deal to get his stock up. Houston is always looking for a quality third big.
If we move Lin, I'd add Lowry to the list of hopeful targets. If we move Asik, we'd also have to find a big in the trade market, not many legitimate 5's in this free agent class.
If we do basically stick with the roster as is, if we came away with Mills and Blair or Okafor I'd be happy. Kostas Papanikolaou may be brought over and if we include another draft pick you'd be looking at total acquisitions of Mills, Blair/Okafor, Papanikolaou, and pick (which would honestly be just too big of a roster). Assuming that McHale can find enough room in his heart (lol) to expand the rotation a bit this team could be really deep and talented next year.
*one final note on the McHale re-signing. I wasn't trying to be disagreeable or belligerent. I do have a problem with the arguments used in justifying his retention. The players like him is a borderline silly reason to retain him. I think, from what I've gathered though, Morey probably sees more value in the players developing than he does in a coaching change. The possibility of the player development being stunted by a system change is at least a somewhat rational reason to hold the course. I still disagree, but I think I understand Morey's logic.