With only 9 games left in the season and the Houston Rockets struggling to book their ticket for this year’s Playoffs, here’s 5 possible options to improve the team for the 2016-2017 season.
For all the possible suggested scenarios at the beginning of the season for the Houston Rockets, this one surely wasn’t expected.
Only one year after achieving the number 2 spot in the Western Conference and going all the way to Conference Finals, the Texan team now find themselves struggling to even stay relevant in the race to secure a place in the post season. As of this writing they sit in seventh, but given their inconsistency it’s conceivable they might not make it. Perhaps the worse situation would be if they do make it, but finish in seventh or eighth only to face the Spurs or Warriors and get bounced in the first round. In this second scenario they’ll lose the restricted draft pick sent to Denver.
And with a lot of players under performing this year, the likely imminent exit of Dwight Howard in the off season and a couple of restricted free agents and unrestricted free agents the Houston Rockets are probably looking into revamping most of their squad.
This article will look into real possibilities, real options that the Rockets must pursue in order to compete with Conference heavyweights. Therefore there will be no “Kevin Durant pipe dreams” here, only solid unrestricted role players that can make the difference starting next season.
With that in mind here’s 5 free agents the Rockets must take a closer look in the off season –
Next: Big Man Help
Jan 15, 2016; Houston, TX, USA; Cleveland Cavaliers center Timofey Mozgov (20) during the game against the Houston Rockets at Toyota Center. Mandatory Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports
2015-2016 Stats: 17.4 Minutes per Game, 6.4 Points, 4.3 Rebounds
Let me start by saying: this is obviously not the best option in case Dwight Howard bolts. But assuming the Houston Rockets go all in with Clint Capela – which I’m guessing is the right thing to do – the team would still need a decent replacement.
Don’t get me wrong, if there’s even the slightest possibility that the Houston Rockets could get Andre Drummond – likely the biggest prize in this off season – then by all means they should go for it.
However with Rockets hard-capped and the market values of star caliber players going into the stratosphere with the cap spike it’s unlikely the Rockets could pay him enough.
Still, in the big leagues there’s also Hassan Whiteside to consider but with him the Rockets would acquire a lot of headache and character issues.
Meanwhile there are still dutiful hard-working players that may not possess the skills or the appeal of a Whiteside or a Drummond, but could fulfill their role and won’t have problems coming of the bench. Bismack Biyombo for example is a player that fits this profile and it’s immensely useful. It’s highly unlikely that he’ll leave Toronto though.
Now Mozgov has been suffering with some personal problems this season and his production has slipped considerably with Cavs that ended up demoting the Russian center to the bench. Nevertheless, I fell that if he could find his way back to the form of last year he could be a great addition to the Houston Rockets.
Add to that the fact that Timofey Mozgov might be attainable at a affordable price and I’m comfortable to say that if used correctly, Mozgov is a player that can get 8 points and about 7 rebounds every single night off the bench. And that’s something the Rockets must surely take a closer look at.
Next: A Good Thing Going at PF
Mar 18, 2016; Houston, TX, USA; Houston Rockets forward Michael Beasley (8) celebrates with guard James Harden (13) after making a basket during the fourth quarter against the Minnesota Timberwolves at Toyota Center. The Rockets won 116-111. Mandatory Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports
2015-2016 Stats: 18 Minutes per Game, 13.8 Points, 4.8 Rebounds
The best thing the Houston Rockets may aspire to get in the Power Forward position is to retain the services of CBA MVP Michael Beasley.
Even if the Rockets get a chance to make a pitch for the unexpectedly rejuvenated Pau Gasol the best thing for the team would be to keep Beasley in Houston for a couple more seasons.
In his time with the Rockets Beasley has proven to be a great weapon leading a second unit off the bench. He is tailor made for this role and there’s no reason the Rockets should look further. This writer feels the best thing would be to let him resume his NBA career in Clutch City.
Michael Beasley is also relatively young at 27 years-old and is probably entering his peak years.
Given his success in the CBA and now in Houston it’s obvious the power forward will have a lot of suitors in the off season though.
It’s up to the Rockets to take a chance on the offensive juggernaut that is Michael Beasley.
Next: Adding Depth at Small Forward
Feb 8, 2016; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Los Angeles Clippers forward Luc Richard Mbah a Moute (12) controls the ball past Philadelphia 76ers guard Ish Smith (1) during the second half at Wells Fargo Center. The Clippers won 98-92 in overtime. Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports
Luc Mbah a Moute
2015-2016 Stats: 16.7 Minutes per Game, 3 Points, 2.3 Rebounds
I’ll be the first one to acknowledge that there won’t be much talent in the small forward department in the next free agency.
Nevertheless, the good thing is the Rockets are almost set in this position. With Trevor Ariza locked in for a couple more years and his younger counterpart, ferocious K.J. McDaniels also guaranteed, there’s not much else to look for.
"“ Chandler Parsons Houston was home for me for three years. I definitely would never count that option out. I have great memories there. They have a great crowd, a great city to live in … I have nothing but respect and love for them. I would never count that out.” –"
The Cameroonian Luc Mbah a Moute would serve as a third option in Houston whenever the team would look for a more defensive unit, especially in the last few minutes.
Don’t expect any fireworks, but Luc could definitely win the Rockets some games with his fierceness on defense.
Next: A Sixth Man
Feb 26, 2016; Atlanta, GA, USA; Atlanta Hawks forward Kent Bazemore (24) celebrates a three-point basket in the fourth quarter of their game against the Chicago Bulls at Philips Arena. The Hawks won 103-88. Mandatory Credit: Jason Getz-USA TODAY Sports
2015-2016 Stats: 27.7 Minutes per Game, 11.5 Points, 4.9 Rebounds, 2.2 Assists
It’s a given that Kent Bazemore will have a lot of suitors this off season. Teams looking for defensive consistency and a somewhat decent three-point shot will be all over Bazemore.
Why not the Rockets though? Assuming GM Daryl Morey builds a winning team next year, that may be exactly what Bazemore is looking for:
"“ ” – Kent Bazemore For me, it’s more than just how much people pay. I look at state tax, cost of living. At the end of the day, I want to set myself up for when I retire, and I’m a forward thinker. I want to win at the end of the day. I can’t take a huge contract and win 17 games. That’s just not me."
In order for this to work out I believe he would need an assurance of being at least a sixth man, getting steady minutes like Corey Brewer did last season for example.
Next: Going all-in at Point Guard
Mar 6, 2016; Memphis, TN, USA; Memphis Grizzlies guard Mike Conley (11) signals to his team as he dribbles in the first quarter against the Phoenix Suns at FedExForum. Mandatory Credit: Nelson Chenault-USA TODAY Sports
2015-2016 Stats: 31.4 Minutes per Game, 15.3 Points, 6.1 Assists
Granted I did say no “Kevin Durant pipe dreams” but if the Rockets really want to present a challenge to the Western Conference powerhouses, then they need a talented point guard.
It’s almost a certainty that the Rockets are going to try and finally get Sergio Llull to the NBA once again, but that won’t be enough.
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It’s key that the Rockets pursue an amazing point guard with everything they have. And there just isn’t anyone like Mike Conley available. This signing would definitely represent a coup and send a strong signal that the Rockets are once again a force to be reckoned with.
A play maker like Mike Conley is exactly what the Rockets still need, and even if the Ty Lawson experiment didn’t work out, there’s no reason to believe that Conley is destined to the same failure simply because James Harden doesn’t share the ball.
The secret to the Houston Rockets success lies in Harden giving up the ball more often thus decreasing turnovers and iso plays, letting others create shots and opportunities for him to score.
With Conley on board the Houston Rockets could be once again relevant and aim for even bigger things in the wild West.
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