Top Free Agent Targets To Fortify Houston Rockets
By Brett David Roberts
Apr 16, 2014; Milwaukee, WI, USA; Milwaukee Bucks guard Ramon Sessions (13) during the game against the Atlanta Hawks at BMO Harris Bradley Center. Atlanta won 111-103. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports
The Houston Rockets have some cap space still to spend. With about $52.4 million in payroll, Rockets GM Daryl Morey still has about $12 M to commit to what remains on the market with the cap set at $66 million next season.
The best fit at this point is Detroit Pistons big man Greg Monroe. But there a host of other options that could help the Rockets fill out its rotation. In the interest of brevity, I won’t comment on every single option but simply present some of the best instead.
Frontcourt: Andray Blatche, Shawn Marion, Jermaine O’Neal, Emeka Okafor, Charlie Villanueva, Gustavo Ayon, Ivan Johnson, Elton Brand, Kenyon Martin
Swingmen: Jordan Crawford, Michael Beasley, Jordan Hamilton, Francisco Garcia, Rip Hamilton
Point Guards: Ramon Sessions, Mo Williams, Aaron Brooks, Ronnie Brewer, E’Twaun Moore
Frontcourt thoughts: At this point, the most beneficial add would likely be a veteran big man who can possibly play late 4th quarter minutes. That would reduce the list to Emeka Okafor, Jermaine O’Neal, Shawn Marion, Elton Brand and Kenyon Martin.
Martin can likely be written off because he doesn’t have much left and can be a team disturbance. Brand and Okafor are both good options, however. Okafor, in particular, would give the Rockets another big man capable of blocking some shots and playing solid post defence. It would also unite the top two picks of the 2004 NBA draft, Dwight Howard having been the 1st pick and Okafor the 2nd (and ROY winner).
Shawn Marion could serve as small forward or a stretch-4 starter for the Rockets. He’s still a good defender even at advanced age, and while his jumper is one of the uglier in NBA history, he still knocks down enough to keep defenses honest.
Gustavo Ayon is also intriguing. He’s an excellent passer and could likely put up numbers and production very similar to Omer Asik. Ayon is a talented center and one of the best players to hail from Mexico. The Orlando Magic had him slotted to be the starter in 2012-13 before Nikola Vucevic showed it was definitely his job.
May 3, 2014; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Golden State Warriors guard Jordan Crawford (55) is defended by Los Angeles Clippers guard Darren Collison (2) in game seven of the first round of the 2014 NBA Playoffs at Staples Center. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports
Swingmen: The Rockets have been toying with bringing Francisco Garcia back, but Jordan Crawford should be seriously considered. Crawford is younger and more dynamic. He was traded mid-season from Boston to Golden State, and he saw a major reduction in minutes with the Warriors.
In Boston, Crawford was averaging 13.7 points and 5.7 assists per game. He’s expanded his game since departing Washington, having become more of a playmaker and threat off the dribble.
Michael Beasley always remains intriguing due to his skill set, but he hasn’t done much to indicate he is an asset, even to the second units. Rip Hamilton is ancient, but not finished; Hamilton keeps himself well conditioned and jumpers never die in true shooters.
Point Guards: It wouldn’t hurt to add an experienced combo guard who could play behind both Patrick Beverley and James Harden. Of course, rookie Nick Johnson embodies this, but there are some more experienced options.
Ramon Sessions heads a list of players who could benefit Houston. Sessions is a good passer and good shooter. He hit 46 percent from the floor and 35.7 percent from three-point range last season.
Sessions averaged 15.8 points and 4.8 assists per game in his 12 games with the Milwaukee Bucks last season. In Charlotte, prior to that, Sessions averaged 10.5 points and 3.5 assists per game. Sessions would make an excellent addition, because if played with Beverley, it would give the Rockets an interesting look for the few minutes James Harden rests.
Jan 8, 2014; Portland, OR, USA; Portland Trail Blazers point guard Mo Williams (25) shoots over Orlando Magic small forward Maurice Harkless (21) at the Moda Center. Mandatory Credit: Craig Mitchelldyer-USA TODAY Sports
Mo Williams is also a good play here. Williams could easily replace the production of Jeremy Lin by himself, if he had to. While he was never good enough to be a featured second or third option with LeBron James in Cleveland, Williams is best suited for a sixth man role. He can put up big numbers when he gets cooking, and would get plenty of open looks for three with the Rockets.
Source: Salaries from Hoopshype