Houston opted to prioritize signing their other free agents with Chris Paul and Gerald Green both getting contracts in the first hour of free agency.
Ariza was looking for a payday, and the Suns were able to use all of their cap space to give it to him. He will make $15 million next season in his one-year deal, which is more than half of what he made this past season with the Rockets.
When the Rockets signed Ariza back in 2014, they got him as a replacement for the contract the Rockets could not match for Chandler Parsons. However, this year, the only true upgrades at Ariza’s position were LeBron James, who is out of Houston’s budget, and Paul George, who signed a 4-year, $137 million contract with the Thunder last night.
Very few players left in free agency fit the mold of Ariza’s role as a 3-and-D wing, which means the Rockets are going to have to get creative.
Luc Mbah a Moute is probably the player who mirrors Ariza’s skillset the best among the players left in free agency. LMAM will receive a raise from what he had last season, but now there is more urgency to bring him back to not have him as a role player but as a primary starter.
Signing LMAM last summer was a depth move, and it gave Houston one of the deepest benches in the league, but now the Rockets might need him to start. If you put Mbah a Moute in the starting lineup though, there will need to be someone to fill his role on the bench. Likely, the Rockets will need a veteran to eat up Ariza’s minutes.
There are some free agents that are more three than D like JJ Redick, Arron Afflalo, and Wayne Ellington. And there are some free agents that are more D than three like Kevon Looney and Lance Stephenson.
Personally, I would rather the Rockets sign a player with better defensive abilities given that the Rockets are bringing back Green and have drafted Vincent Edwards, a small forward that shot nearly 40 percent from three in college, but Edwards may not be ready to contribute right away.
Chances are because there is nobody that is the perfect combination of someone with a three-point shot and the ability to guard top scorers, the Rockets will have to combine multiple players to fulfill this role.
Chime off in the comments below on who you think the Rockets should sign to replace Trevor Ariza and let’s see how Executive of the Year Daryl Morey responds to Ariza’s departure.