The offseason is now in full swing. It should be a busy offseason for the Rockets, and hopefully the team can build on the success they had this past season.
This week’s panelists include Adam Sweeney (AS), Ethan Rothstein (ER), Max Croes (MC), Jeremy Brener (JB), and Darren Yuvan (DY).
Continue the debates in the comments below!
1. Name one free agent the Rockets should target.
AS: Gordon Hayward is the dream get, but Serge Ibaka would be a solid pick-up, provided that he commits to playing defense. I miss the version of Ibaka from his early years with Oklahoma City, where he was sending every other layup attempt opponents put up. The burden would be off his shoulders offensively in Houston, so he could double down on destroying the dreams of anyone who dares enter the lane on the other end.
ER: Danilo Gallinari. Gordon Hayward is too expensive, Paul Millsap is too old, Otto Porter is going to get his contract matched if the Rockets sign him to an offer sheet, and the Rockets don't need any of the point guards on the market like George Hill, Chris Paul or Kyle Lowry. If there's a place to upgrade this team, it's at the 3/4, since Clint Capela is the center of the Rockets' future. Gallo is perfect for that role, and frankly would make sense starting ahead of either Ryan Anderson or Trevor Ariza. Units with him, James Harden, Eric Gordon, Patrick Beverley and Clint Capela would annihilate opposing teams. I have to stop because my mouth is already watering.
MC: Otto Porter Jr. He went from overvalued draft pick - to - bust - to - role player to - the NBA's fifth best three point shooter. He shot 43.4% from deep on 341 attempts in an offense that barely functioned for the first half of the season. Shooting open threes is a Rockets specialty. And he's 6-8. And he's 23. And he's going to get ...paid... by someone who has more cap space than the Rockets. But I like thinking about him being a great three and D player next to James Harden.
JB: JJ Redick would be a perfect fit to the offense, don’t ya think? He’ll be 33 next season and he’s stayed with the Clippers to chase a championship. Well, the Rockets are closer to a championship than the Clips, and he is exactly the player that would flourish in the offense. It might cost a little bit, but I bet he’d be willing to take a slight pay cut to go to a team that gives him the best chance to succeed this late in his career.
DY: I'd love to see JJ Redick or Danilo Gallinari in Houston. The Rockets need some help at small forward with Trevor Ariza aging, and Gallinari brings the size and athletic ability off the dribble to be a good fit in this system. As for Redick, just imagine the open threes he'll be draining playing with the Rockets. Houston does have a glut of guards, but I'd be happy to have Redick aboard and look to move the inconsistent Lou Williams. Sweet Lou had his moments with the Rockets, but he never did quite look totally comfortable. Blake Griffin is another name and would look awesome running the pick and roll next to James Harden, but the price is going to be prohibitive.
2. Name one free agent the Rockets should avoid.
AS: Rudy Gay has been getting some run as a free agent that Houston could buy into, and it would bring his career full circle (You'll recall that he was drafted by Houston in 2006 before being sent to Memphis with Stromile Swift for Shane Battier. His declining numbers combined with a recovery from an Achilles injury spells too much risk for the reward.
ER: Serge Ibaka. He was supposed to be the missing piece for the Raptors, and he severely underperformed. He was a square peg in a shitty round hole in Orlando, and it might have cratered his shooting confidence. He said on a podcast with Woj that he was too far away from the rim in Orlando and his shot-blocking was neutralized. He's worse than Clint Capela (by far) and doesn't space the floor like Ryno. So he'd be on the bench, and by all accounts, this is not the kind of guy who is going to be happy with that.
MC: Manu Ginobili. He deserves the dignity of retiring with the team he spent his entire career with.
Paul Millsap. His next contract will take him to the age of 36. While he's still an All-Star he does it with a low profile that appears ready to fade any year.
JB: Dion Waiters is bad news. He’s a guy that needs to be a feature option in an offense and will only work in specific places in the league. This is why he didn’t work in Cleveland or OKC, but worked for a team like Miami where he was a strong offensive weapon. Although he is talented, his ego would get the best of him in Houston, and we know what it is like for an ego to drain the team.
DY: Definitely Serge Ibaka. He's been on a steady downward trajectory for a few seasons now, and especially defensively, he's really dropped off of a cliff. This would be a Dwight Howard-esque signing that might start off positively with a honeymoon period but is likely to end just as badly. Stay away, Daryl Morey. Please.
3. Name a draft prospect the Rockets should target.
AS: Caleb Swanigan fits the mold of Daryl Morey picks who are undersized but outwork the competition. He will out-hustle anyone down low, shoots 50% from behind the arc, plays intelligently, and has the appearance of an NBA lifer. He could be a steal at the 43rd pick.
ER: Markelle Fultz. I hear that guy is pretty good. I don't know nearly enough about scouting to break down the differences between second-round draft picks. In Morey We Trust.
MC: Jonathan Jeanne (or anyone who can be a draft and stash). 7-2 19 year old from France. Slim as hell with a 7-6 wingspan. Capela has proven a place in the Rockets offense for a defensive minded big who rolls to the basket and can finish anything thrown to him. Jeanne is young and raw but could fit the same profile Capela does. He could also be a draft and stash.
The second round picks are Houston's only chance to get draft and stash rights on a foreign player, like Zhou Qi. It's unlikely a second round pick will warrant a roster spot with Montrezl Harrell, Kyle Wiltjer, Troy Williams and Qi projects all underway. Rockets general manager Daryl Morey does solid work at signing undrafted players and will likely be hard at work the second the draft is over as NBA rosters will expand next season under the new CBA.
JB: The Rockets have a history of drafting players who have had successful runs in college. Sam Dekker, Montrezl Harrell to name a few, and the Rockets can continue this trend by drafting Sindarius Thornwell. Thornwell is a guy who is willing to grind, has a ton of experience, and came through in the clutch for South Carolina during their Cinderella Final Four run this March. He averaged 2 steals per game and made nearly 40 percent of his threes last season. He’s a wing player that can play either the two or the three in smallball lineups. Thornwell will make an impact in the NBA. I just hope it’s for the good guys.
DY: I don't know a lot about many of the guys in the second round, but I'd like to see Daryl Morey pick up an athletic swingman and/or another big. I don't have the faith that Chinanu Onuaku is going to amount to much, who knows what to expect from Zhou Qi, and it's been rumored that Mike D'Antoni isn't a big fan of Montrezl Harrell. That leaves a big hole on the roster for a developing front court player.
4. Name a draft prospect the Rockets should avoid.
AS: Dillon Brooks killed it so far with the Oregon Ducks but there isn't much that separates him from a lot of other players once he gets to the next level. He feels more like a career bench player, but the intangibles are intriguing. That said, there just isn't a lot that screams impact player to me.
ER: Anyone who went to Duke. Shane Battier forever remains the exception to the rule.
MC: Anyone over the age of 20 and anyone who couldn't be a draft and stash. See my previous answer.
JB: Jaron Blossomgame from Clemson. I really liked him coming out of college but then found out he only made about 25 percent of his threes. He’s exactly the type of player the Rockets would take if he made his shots. Blossomgame has had a great combine, but I’m not sure I would take the risk on him as a draft pick.
DY: The Rockets have a glut of guards, so I don't know what place another point man or two guard would have, though we all know the Rockets can never have enough shooters. Still, there are bigger needs on this roster than another guard. I'd hope Morey doesn't draft one.
5. Who should the Rockets target in a trade during the offseason?
AS: I've said it before and I will say it again. P.J. Tucker would be a stellar pick-up if we can't get a big name star. The Rockets have plenty of three-point shooters, but few 3-and-D options. If Game 6 versus San Antonio in the Playoffs taught us anything, it's that energy and effort on both ends are going to be what elevates the Rockets to the next level. Tucker would aid in that next step.
ER: If they can't sign Gallo, that's the spot that needs to be upgraded. Neither Ariza nor Anderson can create off the dribble, and it became a huge problem against the Spurs AND Thunder. Harden doesn't need another point guard, but he does need someone who can also exploit a mismatch when he runs a pick-and-roll with them. Ryno spaces well, but Ariza can't make enough teams pay. They're the inverse on defense. Unfortunately, these are some of the most valuable players in the NBA. It's hard to imagine the Rockets have the assets to get someone who actually can move the needle in a meaningful way against the Warriors. I'm not even sure Gallo would, but the Rockets don't have to give up anything to get him.
MC: Klay Thompson. Yes. I know this is ridiculous and an impossible scenario, but hear me out. Thompson is the perfect three and D player and he's destined to be the fourth musketeer for the rest of his prime the second Durant signs that contract. If something goes wrong in Golden State he's the guy most likely to want a better situation.
JB: Maybe the best trade is no trade at all. Perhaps Daryl Morey likes a guy in the late first and the Rockets combine their second rounders to get a late first. A team like the Magic at 26 might bite at a deal like that because they need so many players. If Morey likes a guy enough, he will get him. No matter what Morey does, I trust that he has the right idea for the team moving forward. In Morey We Trust.
DY: That's a tough question because I'm not sure anyone is really off the board when you have a GM like Morey, but the Rockets could really use another hard-nosed defender or a guy to supply a little muscle and attitude. There's no guarantee Nene returns after his injury, which leaves an opening for a badass on the roster.