I could sit here and let everyone know how the Rockets blew a chance to win the series starting from Game 1 at home all the way to Damian Lillard's series-clinching three. But I won't. Rather, I would like to focus on areas that the Rockets roster can maintain and improve upon that may help them avoid the same kind of fate next year. That's the objective of the off-season now. Like the old saying goes, "It's no use to cry over spilled milk."
1. Make a move for Rajon Rondo. All season long I always heard how the Rockets were one player away from truly contending for the title. And after the latest setback against Portland that looks more true than ever. Rondo would automatically be an upgrade over Beverley and Lin. He would provide the team a true point guard who has terrific ball-handling skills, and a knack to show up during big games. Now, to be fair, Rondo does come with some baggage and less than desirable tendencies. He has a lifetime three-point average of 25.2%, along with 62.1% from the charity stripe. Those are two areas where the Rockets notoriously had trouble being consistent at times throughout the course of the season. And Rondo does tend to hog the ball unnecessarily at times, which could lead to trouble with Howard and Harden. But still he would be a significant upgrade at point guard for the team going forward.
2. Chandler Parsons contract negotiations must be handled correctly. With all that said about Rondo above, the only way I see the Rockets landing him in a trade with the Boston Celtics is through a very substantial offer. I see two risks to the trade offers Houston could propose to Boston: one, Chandler Parsons could be the main piece of any trade, and two, shipping off multiple draft picks that will mortgage the future for short-term gains. I believe the Parsons negotiations will affect what Daryl Morey and company would offer to the Celtics. But with Parsons being such a big influence on Howard coming to Houston last off-season and key contributor to the team, I do not anticipate Morey making him available yet. I believe the Rockets would rather send off a combination of Lin, Asik, Motiejunas, Beverley, Jones, and Hamilton along with multiple draft picks. And with the option on Parsons contract and his salary being around $965,000, he is too valuable to the team this upcoming season and, as of now, long-term to warrant a trade.
3. Must improve bench depth. Troy Daniels provides the Rockets with another option coming off the bench next season, but what hampered the Rockets early in their series with Portland was the lack of play-makers on both ends of the floor coming from the bench. When your star players go cold for any stretch of time, a team needs bench players to pick up the slack. Houston, unfortunately, did not have that luxury until late in the series. Lin and Asik are each solid role players, but do not tend to take over games when needed. Motiejunas is too inconsistent, and Casspi was nonexistent in the rotation past January. A few players I think of that can improve the Rockets with overall depth are Al-Farouq Aminu, Patty Mills, Leandro Barbosa, and CJ Miles. But, of course, this is wishful thinking right now and the Rockets need to make sure they have the cap space to sign these guys.