Five days into free agency, and Daryl Morey has already added Chris Paul and P.J. Tucker to the roster, and re-signed fan favorite Nene. Now, according to reports, Houston is on the radar of All-Star forward Carmelo Anthony.
Any potential deal for him would require Houston trading Ryan Anderson, and the Knicks are not too keen on adding him. He essentially plays the same position as Kristaps Porzingis and his contract actually runs longer than Carmelo’s.
Houston would have to involve a third team, such as Brooklyn or Sacramento, that would have the cap space necessary to absorb Anderson’s contract and the assets that New York would ask for in return.
Even if Houston isn’t able to swing a deal for Anthony, this team is already much better than last year’s edition. And that team won 55 games.
Speaking to Bill Simmons his podcast, Daryl Morey emphasized the need for flexibility and that the Rockets are in a fine position headed forward in free agency. Consider this, taken from the Houston Chronicle:
"We would save them (the bi-annual exception and non-guaranteed contracts,)" Morey said. "If something really good breaks, we'll look at it. But I think teams make mistakes trying to make sure they finish everything on July 3. We'll have ability to aggregate up the non-guaranteed aspect at any point. We want to save our bi-annual unless something comes along really good so we can outbid other contenders later."
It seems like for right now, Morey is content using minimum contracts to fill out the remaining of the roster, rather than making another big splash.
Considering Houston’s current rotation, disregarding obvious G-Leaguers (that’s going to be weird to write for a while) and non-guaranteed contracts that might be included in any future deal, they have a solid eight-man rotation: CP3, Harden, Ariza, Ryno, Capela, Gordon, Tucker and Nene.
Looking at that rotation, three things jump off the page:
- The need for a backup point guard, or a third guard essentially, seeing as D’Antoni may stagger minutes between The Beard and CP3 or try to preserve them for the playoffs.
- The need for a backup combo forward, preferably one who can shoot the three
- The need for a “third center” a la the Montrezl role, one who can pinch hit when Nene is resting or if either Capela or Nene is in foul trouble
There are still quality veteran free agents out there who would be willing to take less money to join the Rockets. Time has proven that if you are a true contender, older players will take less money if they know they have a good chance of playing come May and June. For God sakes, the Warriors just signed Omri Cassipi to a minimum deal and nabbed Nick Young with the mid-level exception. And we all know how bad Golden State needed depth.
Totally kidding, it’s downright cheating.
That being said, let’s take a look at some potential future Rockets.
- Deron Williams: Once touted as arguably the best point guard in the league, D-Will’s career hasn’t gone exactly to plan, ending up on the back end of the Cavs roster this past season. His last memories in NBA fans are his abysmal Finals performances, but he was actually a serviceable option for Cleveland in the regular season, averaging 7.5 points and 3.6 assists in about 20 minutes a night. He also shot 41 percent from deep, which should be music to D’Antoni’s ears. Him and CP3 on the same team would be hilarious, as well.
- Rajon Rondo: Very few people would have pegged Rondo to be the most influential Bull in their series against the Celtics, but that was just the case. His court vision, unorthodox play and overall high basketball IQ had the Bulls two games up on the Celtics and an upset was looming. A hand injury he suffered wound up costing the Bulls that series, but Rondo is still a capable NBA player. At this point in his career, he knows he’s best served as a veteran option on a contender, and has always been at his best around great players. Eight points and 7 assists on the year, improving his shooting to 38 percent from three. Should get a look.
- Leandro Barbosa: More of a combo guard, Barbosa enjoyed his finest times of his career playing for D’Antoni and the 7 Seconds or Less Phoenix Suns, even averaging 18 points a night in 2007. A career 39 percent shooter from three, he would settle quite nicely in this Houston squad, knowing exactly what his strengths and weaknesses are, and would contribute with his IQ and energy right away.
- Mike Dunleavy: Let’s see. 6-foot-10? Check. 43 percent from deep? Check. Cheap contract? $1.5 million, check. Get it while it’s hot.
- Luke Babbit: Same as Dunleavy, shot slightly worse, 41 percent from deep, which is still great. Wouldn’t cost a lot, can “defend” both forward positions.
- Michael Beasley: Houston fans fell in love with him, one of the bright lights in a dark 2015-16 season. Eats buckets for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Would thrive in a D’Antoni system, shot 42 percent from three with the Bucks last year. Bring him back, Morey. Erase all memory of the Tyler Ennis Experiment.
- Matt Barnes: At 37, Barnes is no spring chicken. But what you see is what you get with him. Hard-nosed defense, tenacity and a veteran presence. And when you address him, make sure you add NBA champion. Decent shooter.
- Dewayne Dedmon: He would have to take less money, seeing as he could make more than his current $2.8 million on the open market, but this would be a steal for Houston. A guy who will run the floor hard, crash the boards and defend the paint, and he doesn’t cost much. The Spurs utilized his talents adequately in the 2016-17 season.
- Festus Ezeli: Obviously, injuries are a concern here, but still a good backup option when healthy. Missed the entire year in Portland, but his last healthy season was just in 2015, when he was a key cog on that great Warriors team. Don’t overlook him.
- Marreese Speights: Missed wide open dunks aside, Speights did pretty well on a Clippers team, averaging about 9 and 5 rebounds, shooting 37 percent from deep. Won’t need more than 15 minutes a night to make an impact, and every team needs a bald-headed dude. It’s a must.
- JaVale McGee: This man is a champion, and will be addressed as such. Put aside the maturity and durability issues and went to work for Golden State, ready to go whenever he was called upon. You’ll get the occasional Shaqtin’ play, but overall a decent big man and a good squad option.
- Joel Anthony: Former Rocket great, what can I say?