The final four playoff teams are battling to hoist the Larry O’Brien trophy, while the other 26 teams are getting ready for the draft and free agency. This won’t go down as one of the most impressive offseason free agent classes, but there will still be a lot of talented players teams will be hoping to land to sure up their roster for next season.
The Rockets are very deep in every position, but still lack the star player or two they so desperately need to be able to compete with the elite NBA teams. The 2012 free agent list lacks star talent. You can try and go after the restricted free agent star players, but you have to assume any offer the Rockets make the other team will match the offer. The only hope the Rockets have of landing a star this offseason is through trades, which will make room for free agents and draft picks. Assuming that GM Daryl Morey FINALLY lands the big fish he’s been trying to reel in since the Yao Ming and Tracy McGrady days, here are five unrestricted free agents the Rockets should try and bring aboard.
Nick Young- I think it’s safe to say that no matter what happens Kevin Martin has played his last game in Houston. Young is a lanky 6’7 210 pound shooting guard who has a very similar game compared to Martin, only he’s three years younger and has had experience coming off the bench and starting. If the Rockets keep Courtney Lee, Young would be perfect to back him up. Young can be the legitimate scoring threat off the bench for the Rockets, which they lacked last season when Goran Dragic and Lee had to step up as starters. If Budinger is gone and Marcus Morris doesn’t approve, Young could also play the small forward position. He had a down year this season compared to last season averaging 14.2 points on just 40% shooting with 2 rebounds, and 1 assist in 27 minutes a game between the Los Angeles Clippers and the Washington Wizards. I think his down year was due to him going from a team where he was a primary scorer in Washington to a team that had multiple scoring threats in Los Angeles. He didn’t know how to just fit in and do what he does best, which is score. In Houston he would be the primary scorer off the bench where he could fire away just like he did in Washington. He doesn’t give you much defensively, but that’s not why teams will be after him.
Marcus Camby- The Rockets traded for Camby during this seasons trading deadline. He made an immediate impact on both ends of the floor, eventually stealing the starting spot from Samuel Dalembert. After coming over from Portland, Camby played in 19 games for the Rockets, starting 13 of them. He averaged 7 points, 9 rebounds, 1.7 assists and 1.5 blocks in 24 minutes a game. Not bad for a guy that’s 38 years old and was in his 15th season. Camby lives in Houston and has made it clear that he wants to retire as a Rocket. If the Rockets are smart they will grant him his wish. He’s not a long term solution in Houston when it comes to a starting center, but he can still bang with the best big men in the league.
Ersan Ilyasova- Luis Scola took a few steps backwards this season, and at 32 years old i think he is on the downside of his career. In steps Ilyasova. At only 25 years old, i think we have yet to see the best of him. The 2012-2013 season could be a breakout season for him in my opinion. At 6’10 235 pounds he is a younger, better version of Scola. He battles on the boards on both sides of the floor, can step out and shoot the three, can put the ball on the floor and he isn’t a liability on defense like Scola is. Last season he played in 60 games and started 41 of them. He averaged 13 points on 49% shooting, 8.8 rebounds and 1 assist in 27 minutes a game. The stat that jumps out at me most is his 45% shooting from behind the arc, which means he can really stretch the floor and give slower power forwards a lot of problems. He’s not a beast defensively, but he can’t be any worse than Scola.
Goran Dragic- In my opinion Dragic was the MVP of the Houston Rockets this season. When Kyle Lowry went down he stepped in and did more than just feel his spot, he outplayed Lowry. Dragic learned a lot under his mentor Steve Nash in Phoenix and carried it to Houston. He may never be a future hall of famer like Nash is, but he is definitely capable of running a team. Dragic averaged 11.7 points, 5.3 assists, 2.5 rebounds and 1.3 steals in 26 minutes a game last season, which are decent numbers. But in his 28 games as a starter Dragic averaged 18 points, 8.4 assists, 3.5 rebounds and 1.8 steals in 35 minutes a game. Those are all-star numbers. With Kyle Lowry asking to be moved, i think the Rockets need to sign Dragic to a long term deal, no matter what the price is.
Deron Williams- The only way the Rockets let Dragic walk is if they can somehow land superstar Deron Williams. Deron will be the most sought-after free agent this coming offseason. The Rockets have the cap space to sign him and another star to multi-year contracts. The only way the Rockets have a chance of getting him is if they can trade for another superstar like Dwight Howard or Pau Gasol. Deron did grow up in Texas and has expressed interest in the Dallas Mavericks. If the Rockets can somehow persuade him to come to Houston instead it could open up a variety of opportunities for the Rockets. It’s a long shot but with Morey as the GM you never know what is going to happen. At just 27 years old Deron is in the prime of his career. A lot of people seem to have forgot how great he is since he went to the New Jersey Nets. Trust me, Daryl Morey hasn’t. In my opinion Chris Paul and Deron are the two best pure point guards in the NBA. Deron can do it all. Last season with the below average Nets he averaged 21 points, 8.7 assists, 3.3 rebounds and 1 steal in 36 minutes a game. Think of how many more assists he could of averaged if he had somebody to pass it to in New Jersey besides Marshon Brooks.
The Rockets are a good team but not good enough to make a serious impact in the playoffs or even a championship. If they want to start making that impact they need to start landing big name superstars and above average role players to put alongside them. Is this the year GM Daryl Morey finally gets the team he has been waiting for? We will soon find out.