The Houston Rockets and their $61 million in cap space have been linked to practically every NBA free agent this offseason as the summer player movement is set to begin in earnest. James Harden’s name has been bandied about quite often, but according to Marc Stein, when it comes to who the Rockets are actually most interested in themselves, the honor goes to Fred VanVleet and Dillon Brooks.
Even though Harden remains a top priority, NBA insiders increasingly feel that he’s heading back to Philly, which would leave VanVleet as the top free agent point guard on the market.
Sources say that the Raptors realize it will likely require an annual salary of at least $30 million (and possibly higher) to secure VanVleet’s return. The Rockets, provided they miss out on Harden, are said to be ready to go to such lengths to sign away one of the last on-court connections to Toronto’s title-winning team from 2018-19.
That’s a hefty chunk of change for VanVleet, but Houston does have a salary floor they need to reach. But to spend that amount of money on a non-elite point guard that’s going to take reps away from Amen Thompson seems counter-intuitive.
As for Brooks, Stein believes he is a virtual lock to head to Houston, saying:
The Rockets’ interest in Brooks, meanwhile, appears to be even more clear-cut, with one league source insisting Monday that Houston should be labeled as the favorite to sign the talkative swingman whose playoff struggles and the team tension they spawned swiftly prompted the Memphis Grizzlies to move on from him.
I reported Sunday that Brooks is seeking a contract with an annual salary above the $12.4 million midlevel exception for non-taxpaying teams. There is a growing belief leaguewide that the Rockets are preparing to furnish Brooks with just such a deal.
I’m less stressed about the lower salary for Brooks, as one can never have enough wings in this league, and Brooks fits the hard-nosed new philosophy sure to be employed by head coach Ime Udoka.
In addition to those two, Stein says rumors also surround the Rockets and Brook Lopez, Cam Johnson, Khris Middleton, Bruce Brown and Austin Reaves, though he goes on to say that the Lakers are expected to match any offers for Reaves.
What say you about VanVleet and Brooks, TDS?