Mar 28, 2014; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; Boston Celtics guard Rajon Rondo (9) goes to the basket against Toronto Raptors guard Kyle Lowry (7) at Air Canada Centre. The Raptors beat the Celtics 105-103. Mandatory Credit: Tom Szczerbowski-USA TODAY Sports
The Houston Rockets struck out this summer, there’s no doubt about that. After making moves and clearing cap space, their efforts to sign a big-time free agent all turned out for naught.
It hasn’t all been bad for Houston, however. For one, the Rockets signed Trevor Ariza, and he should serve as an excellent fit next season.
In addition, thanks to their offseason moves, the team now boasts financial flexibility moving forward. As their salary stands now, if Houston makes one or two minor moves next summer, they’ll have the cap space to pursue a top free agent in 2015.
Question is: will they? And if they do, who will they pursue?
Odds are, with a stacked 2015 free agent class, the Rockets will attempt to sign an all-star caliber player. With ballers such as LeBron James, Kevin Love, and Marc Gasol capable of hitting free agency, Houston will have many quality options to choose from.
However, out of all these available athletes, the one they’re most likely to target is Boston Celtic’s point guard Rajon Rondo.
The Rockets have been hot for Rondo for quite some time, as the team has continually expressed interest in dealing for him. Currently, he’s unavailable in trade talks, and it’s likely he’ll remain with Boston for the entirety of 2014-15.
Unfortunately, even if he does become available at some point next year, Houston does not boast the assets to acquire him via trade. They’d have a chance if Chandler Parsons was still on the roster, but he’s not and they have little else to offer.
As a result, the Rockets’ only opportunity to obtain Rondo will exist in 2015 free agency. They have a realistic chance of getting him too, as – barring the Celtic’s actually proving themselves competitive – it’s highly plausible the point guard will leave for another ball club.
Rajon’s skill-set would fit well in Houston, as he is a pass-first player who creates for others in the half-court set as well as transition. Whether it’s behind-the-back, no-look, or just a regular bounce pass, Rondo is aware of his surroundings and consistently makes the right pass at the right time.
Watch the following highlight video and see what I mean:
I’m sure you all just drooled watching him, didn’t you? Rondo has averaged 10.9 assists since 2010 through this type of play, and alongside James Harden and Dwight Howard in Houston, he’d continue his trend of flashy yet effective passing.
Frankly, Rondo would complement Harden and Howard perfectly. With Rajon in control of the ball-handling and play-making duties, Beard would play more off the ball and have more scoring chances handed to him. He’d have less pressure to create his own shot, and he’d score on more efficient shooting than the 44.7 percent he’s produced since coming to the Rockets in 2012.
As far as Dwight’s concerned, him and Rondo would form one of the best pick-and-roll combos in the NBA. Harden and Howard have already proven themselves successful together through this play. Add Rajon to the mix, and Houston would only improve offensively.
Also, acquiring Rondo would help the Rockets defensively as well, as he is exceptional when matched up against the league’s top point guards. The Kentucky product’s active hands and lateral quickness serve him well, and his four all-defensive team honors as well as 1.9 steals per game average speak volumes of this fact.
Come 2015, expect Houston to pursue Rajon Rondo in free agency. They’ll have the cap space, the opportunity, and the motivation to go after him.
This won’t occur for another season, but it’s always fun to speculate around this time of year. Rondo to the Rockets has a real chance of happening, and as fans of Space City, this possibility should excite us for our future beyond 2014-15.