Houston Rockets: Morey’s Next Steps In Free Agency?


Entering Day 7 of NBA Free Agency we’ve seen some major activity leading to most of the big names already being off the board. Through the first couple days Rockets fans were anxiously awaiting news only to see the rest of the Association’s teams active while Houston sat silent.

Finally the Rockets dove in Saturday signing both Corey Brewer and Patrick Beverley to multi year contracts. It’s possible this was to stay in contention for Aldridge (by showing Houston’s intent to retain depth) or maybe they already knew his intent since his announcement came shortly after.

Cory Brewer returning to Rockets on three-year, $24 million deal http://t.co/h1uULK19WZ pic.twitter.com/M6BirWSlvK

— Sports Illustrated (@SInow) July 4, 2015

So happy to be back in Houston. So excited. Thank you to all the fans and the Houston Rockets… https://t.co/6taMYrx3LP

— Patrick Beverley (@patbev21) July 6, 2015

While it’s good the Rockets have addressed these two contracts there remains a few priorities for General Manager Daryl Morey:

Point Guard:

Though resigning Patrick Beverley is a great start Houston still needs to add another point guard if they intend to stay relevant. What’s uncertain is Morey’s intent; is the strategy to add a starter, a strong back-up or trade for a young unproven talent? I‘ll investigate that more this week.

J-Smooves Future?

What is the future of Josh Smith? Presumably Morey has kept in contact with Smith and seemingly his intent is to return to Houston given the fit as he excelled as a Rocket. While many players have received multiple meetings with other teams (including Brewer and Beverley) it’s odd we haven’t heard much about Smith. In my opinion this points to Smith basically being kept on ice until Morey addresses his priorities and knows how much is left in the bank.

Given the nature of his buy-out from Detroit there is some flexibility in how much he’ll expect as Detroit will be on the hook for a portion of his contract for the foreseeable future. At this point in Smith’s career and after all the heat he took for being a malcontent and the master of Detroit’s demise you would have to believe he’s not anxious to join a team where that could happen again.

If anything the success he’s achieved in Houston and finding joy on the court while playing on a relevant team should take precedence. Still, the fact Morey went after Aldridge was interesting. For a team who utilize an offensive strategy of dunks and three pointers it never made sense to me how Aldridge would fit their scheme unless they planned on changing their strategy to incorporate a mid range game.

And despite Smith’s fit with Houston, the worry for Morey is he has to be careful about how long he makes him wait. With the most coveted power forwards already signed Smith’s name has moved arguably to the top power forward remaining.

According to reports, the Clippers are showing interest in Josh Smith. http://t.co/Y5qsVu5Uok pic.twitter.com/1PKT82N6tM

— theScore (@theScore) July 7, 2015

Remaining Free Agents:

Remaining free agents: Jason Terry and K.J. McDaniels also remain unsigned. Terry loved playing in Houston and its reasonable to assume the Rockets could retain him with a veteran minimum contract. James Harden was vocal about wanting Terry back, so odds are Morey can get this done if (I repeat if) he doesn’t wait too long.  Dallas is in contact trying to lure him back so Morey can’t afford to wait too long if the club wants the Jet on the roster next season.

McDaniels is more of a tricky issue given several teams are interested in the youngster and his untapped potential. Should he develop a mid range shot he’d be even more enticing and perhaps there are squads who believe that’s a possibility. If I had to guess I think Morey plans to showcase him in Las Vegas Summer League and then utilize him as part of a sign and trade to get the point guard Houston needs.

Jason Terry back to Dallas? http://t.co/YzisjGh1vc pic.twitter.com/v2P1SEJkUe

— HoopsHype (@hoopshype) July 6, 2015

Trades Coming (including one of the Rockets power forwards)?

With the glut of power forwards  one would think there are trades coming down the pipe. Drafting Montrezl Harrell and Sam Dekker adds more depth to the team and the hope will be Dekker can grow into a player of similar ilk to Chandler Parsons (with better defensive skills). Harrell will be a huge upgrade from Joey Dorsey though it’s unlikely we’ll see him play center (as Dorsey did at times this past season). Clint Capela spent the majority of his season in the D-League and developed quickly into a player who got steady playoff minutes. Presumably he along with a healed Donatas Motiejunas will provide back-up to Dwight Howard (and DeMo can also play the four).

So, looking at this wealth of talent up front here’s who we have at the two front court positions:

Center: Dwight Howard -$22,359,364, Clint Capela -$1,242,720,  Joey Dorsey -$1,015,421

Power Forward: Donatas Motiejunas – $2,288,205 (can also provide minutes at C), Montrezl Harrell -Rookie Contract, Terrence Jones -$2,489,530 (last year of rookie contract), Josh Smith, TBA with Detroit provisions of buyout factoring (assuming he returns)

This glut of talent up front (Josh Smith’s future not withstanding) lends one to believe Morey will utilize one of more of these players in a trade to get the second point guard the team desperately needs. Revisiting my initial observation predicting what the teams plans are at PG would make speculation much easier.

Should the Rockets want to upgrade the starting PG position it’s likely 2 of the front court players would be packaged (possibly to include McDaniels Kostas Papanikolaou and/or Nick Johnson), but if Morey decided to go for a solid back-up PG it’s possible they could package Dorsey and Jones to get that deal done.

In my opinion we won’t see much more from Morey unless it’s a trade which leads me to believe once the Vegas Summer League starts trades will start to take over from free agency activity. There is a potential something will happen sooner, but I won’t be surprised if the Rockets return to the cocoon mode again until this weekend.

Make sure to stop by Space City Scoop daily for all your Houston Rockets news, updates on free agency and NBA Summer League activity.

Next: Rockets sign Beverley and Brewer

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