In the Houston Rockets 105-103 loss to the Washington Wizards Saturday night, the last possession for the Wizards showed the Rocket’s glaring weakness. While the Rockets remained with their small lineup of playing Chandler Parsons at the 3 and Carlos Delfino at the 4 defensively, the Wizards simply set a cross screen on the block to free up center Emeka Okafor, posting him against Delfino on the low block, eventually drawing a foul from the size disadvantage. Okafor made the first free throw and missed the second but a Bradley Beal offensive rebound sealed the game.
With the recent deadline trade, the Rockets now have only two centers on the roster, and lack size in the low post. While newly acquired forward Thomas Robinson will help out defensively and on the boards, the Rockets still remain relatively thin outside of Omer Asik, Robinson and Greg Smith, whose inconsistent play and foul troubles remain a problem.
Outside of those three, the only other two big men on the roster are Donatas Motiejunas, who has played well in limited minutes, but is listed at an anemic 222 pounds and has shown more glimpses offensively than defensively, and Terrence Jones, who is still quite raw and not ready to play consistent minutes yet.
If the Rockets don’t add any more players, they will still probably make the playoffs, but to have any kind of chance in a half-court game against the Thunder, Spurs, or Clippers in the playoffs, they must get another big body. That’s why Smith’s role on this team is huge going forward; he must prove that he can consistently play well at the back-up center spot, but come playoff time, if he can’t stay out of foul trouble, then Houston will be in a world of trouble, something that the 22-year-old may not understand at this time.
So what options do the Rockets have? The list of available free agent centers/power forwards is very thin at this time. Some of the known veteran names are Eddy Curry, Jamaal Magloire, Tony Battie, and Troy Murphy.
Murphy may be the best fit, a big man who can guard low post players, while being able to space the floor offensively and knock down threes consistently, but I think the Rockets should really give a hard look at Curry. Currently, Curry is in China playing for the Zhejiang Golden Bulls, but is eligible to sign and be playoff-eligible for an NBA team once his team’s CBA season is over. Curry has also shown glimpses of productive play in the last couple of years.
Last season, he was with the Miami Heat, and lost 70 pounds, while playing in a limited amount of games. Curry played solid for the Dallas Mavericks this season in the pre-season and in the first two regular season games. Playing six games for the Mavericks in the pre-season, he averaged 8.8 points and 4 rebounds in 17 games. while playing well in the season opener, scoring 7 points and grabbing 4 rebounds in 16 minutes against the Los Angeles Lakers. Ironically, the Mavs waived Curry to make room to sign Murphy as they wanted a big man who can space the floor instead of a tradition center.
After losing 70 pounds, Curry still weighs in at 295, adding size down low, while being able to provide some scoring in the low post. Granted, Curry has never been a good shot blocker, nor a good rebounder, signing him for the veteran’s minimum as insurance at the center spot could be a very valuable move.