As I am sure you have heard repeatedly, this offseason will be unlike any the Houston Rockets have had recently. For the first time in a while, the Rockets will be looking to add significant pieces via free agency.
For two reasons, the Rockets were content not making any significant moves during free agency the past two years. First, they didn't have the cap space to make any significant moves, and even if they did have the cap space, they were content going with their young roster as they continued rebuilding.
Those two reasons are no longer a problem, as everyone from Tillman Fertitta to Jalen Green has made it obvious this season is about winning and not rebuilding. The Rockets also have $60-plus million in cap space and will be looking to bring in veteran leadership to help guide their young talent in the 2023-24 season.
Big names like James Harden, Fred VanVleet and Kris Middleton are at the top of free agency. The Rockets have been linked to Harden and VanVleet, but I think the Rockets should be focused on the second and third-tier free agents.
Even the most die-hard Rockets fan can admit the Rockets will not be contenders next season, but if everything breaks right, they could compete for a playing spot. With that said, why tie up large amounts of cap space over three or four years to bring in Harden or VanVleet when that does not put you amongst the best teams in the NBA?
The number one area the Rockets should focus on in free agency
The best course of action next season is to focus on particular areas they have struggled in the last few seasons. Number one on that list is shooting. The Rockets have been the worst or close to the worst shooting team in the entire NBA for the last three seasons. It got so bad last season that the Rockets almost abandoned shooting beyond the arc, as some games saw them only shooting 20 three-pointers for an entire game, which is unheard of in today's NBA.
The Rockets have finished 28th, 20th, and last in three-point shooting percentage in the previous three seasons. When you are one of the worst three-point shooting teams in the league, you make game planning against you reasonably easy. Teams throughout the years have sagged into the paint and dared the Rockets to make open shots from beyond the arc. That negates players like Jalen Green and Kevin Porter Jr.'s ability to get to the basket and also made life a lot harder on Alperen Sengun, who mainly was operating in the paint.
This is where Seth Curry comes in. Curry is an unrestricted free agent this offseason coming off another stellar season from three-point range. Curry shot 40.5 percent from beyond the arc last season and has not shot less than 40 percent from three-point range in his entire 11-year NBA career. That is remarkable, considering he hasn't shot less than three three-pointers per game since the 2015-16 season. Curry would bring an element to the team they haven't had in years: a knockdown shooter who you can depend on every game.
Porter Jr. is currently the Rockets’ best shooter, but that is not his primary function on the squad. They need a player who, game in and game out, can spread the floor and open up the lane so that the team’s athleticism can be fully utilized. Finding shooting is even more imperative, considering the Rockets may be drafting another player who struggles from deep in Amen Thompson.
The next question becomes would he want to come to the Rockets in the first place? Curry will be in high demand, as every team needs a shooter like Curry. His career is starting to wind down, and he may be looking to chase a ring and not play for a team that hasn't even sniffed the play-in game in the last three seasons. The one advantage the Rockets have is their cap space. The Rockets will have to overpay any player they bring in because of their lack of success the last few years.
Even if you have to overpay to bring in Curry, it will still leave you with enough money to bring in two or three other quality players, and you wouldn't have to break the bank on any of them like you would have to with Harden. Players like Josh Hart or Naz Reid would be an excellent addition to the Rockets and would not cost you anything close to the max.
Curry made $8 million last season and will be looking for pay raise at 32 years of age. This will probably be his last major contract, so he will probably be looking to double his previous salary. You will always have to pay a premium for shooters, and Curry is no different.
Shooting is the Rockets’ number one issue, and bringing in a sharpshooter like Curry would go a long way to solving the Rockets’ most significant area of weakness.