May 3, 2013; Houston, TX, USA; Houston Rockets head coach Kevin McHale laughs before game six of the first round of the 2013 NBA Playoffs against the Oklahoma City Thunder at the Toyota Center. Mandatory Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports
For a team that is looking to upgrade at the power-forward position the Houston Rockets sure do have a lot of them. Not just your ordinary old, un-athletic, end-of –career, no-potential having power-forwards. We are talking about a team that has four former first round picks with tremendous upsides and little to no experience. They have power-forwards that can shoot midrange to three point shots and fours with post moves and good defensive instincts. Young players that have NBA size and strength that have completely torn up the d-league in short and long stints. All of which have showed flashes against NBA level competition although in limited minutes.
So the question comes to mind what are the rockets going to do with all of that talent? While rumors have been floating around about potential trade scenarios that could send Thomas Robinson to any number of teams for a first round pick nothing has been finalized and after seeing Jeremy Lamb shipped off last season after having a good showing with the team I wouldn’t bet money on anyone of these young guys being off limits when Darryl Morey gets his trade machine going. There are many teams that might like aspects of each one of the young player’s games. D-Mo is skilled in the low post though he lacks the needed weight and strength to bang with most pf’s but he does posses an excellent outside shot that teams might be willing to trade for the lack of strength.
Terrence Jones has shown the most potential out of the one’s that have been able to get on the court. He rebounds well and has good instincts which find him in position to make plays. He also showed a little bit of a jump shot and explosiveness on both the offensive and defensive ends of the court. This brings us to the last member of the first rounder’s that has yet to play a single second for the team but who’s talent cannot be ignored and his off the court issues won’t allow you to ignore them. Royce white could possibly be the most interesting man in the NBA next year. His frame is that of a Larry Johnson, and he pretty much has the same skill set but his battle with anxiety issues and lack of trust in anyone but himself makes him as big of a red flag for potential trade partners as Aaron Hernandez’s recent actions make him a distraction for the Patriots. Personally I believe that he could end up in San Antonio or with the clippers playing for a coach who will keep him on a very short leash, probably after the Rockets Cut him.
The final piece to the puzzle is Greg Smith. While is wasn’t a first rounder he has gotten the most playing time and looks to be more of a contributor immediately for the Rockets or any other team that he ends up playing for next year. Smith has massive hands, a high motor, and good finishing skills. He is by far one of the strongest players on the team and will have no problem making his presence felt on any court. I see him being a solid starter in another year or two and don’t doubt that while his ceiling isn’t as high as the other players he doesn’t have much risk attached to him for flopping because he has already exceeded expectations and can only get better.
Trading two of those players could free up cap room and provide the Rockets with valuable future draft picks. If the team could move Robinson and white they would be situated to clear up the log jam at power forward and possibly sign another veteran shooter and a backup center so Smith can move to his natural position. If they have to give up Jones or Smith then they need to immediately begin working with the other young power-forwards so they can develop before the trade deadline and pull the trigger on one more before the rest of the league decides their values have diminished.
Anyway you look at it the Rockets are in a position that a lot of teams would love to be in and the front office has proven in the past that all lines of communication are open to every team. If a team is really in need of a power-forward, and are willing to part ways with future picks talent can be had and Houston is the best place to do some shopping.