Daily Rocket Science: Next on the list

Nov 2, 2015; Houston, TX, USA; Oklahoma City Thunder forward Kevin Durant (35) dribbles against Houston Rockets guard James Harden (13) in the third quarter at Toyota Center. Rocket won 110 to 105. Mandatory Credit: Thomas B. Shea-USA TODAY Sports
Nov 2, 2015; Houston, TX, USA; Oklahoma City Thunder forward Kevin Durant (35) dribbles against Houston Rockets guard James Harden (13) in the third quarter at Toyota Center. Rocket won 110 to 105. Mandatory Credit: Thomas B. Shea-USA TODAY Sports /

The Rockets checked off the first item of their summer to-do list, but now they’re onto a much more difficult task.

It’s old news by now that Mike D’Antoni was hired as the head coach of the Houston Rockets. The team has made their formal announcement and it is all set in stone. Now, the team will be faced with a mission arguably much more important than their head coach search: free agency.

For the D’Antoni system to work in full effect, he’ll have to be surrounded with the right players. The Rockets’ roster is filled with a lot of the wrong players at the moment, so lots of work is still to be done before the team is ready for the next installment of Seven Seconds or Less.

Houston Rockets news and notes from around the web

There is no denying that Kevin Durant will be the ultimate prize to be won this offseason. The former MVP and soon-to-be 10-year veteran is up for grabs, and nearly every team in the league will want to make their pitch. Des Bieler of the Washington Post wrote about how much James Harden would love to reunite with his teammate of old, and how he’ll be taking on the task of recruiting him.

"Durant is set to become a free agent, and several players on other teams, including the Celtics’ Isaiah Thomas and the 76ers’ Joel Embiid, have  . Harden may have an edge in that battle, because he and Durant are believed to still have a close friendship; before a March 22 Rockets-Thunder game, Harden hugged  , Wanda Pratt, at midcourt. already begun recruiting him the 2014 MVP’s mom"

One of the reasons that Harden should be very concerned about free agency is that, unfairly or not, the Rockets’ performance this upcoming season will have a large part in determining the public perception of the Beard. Darren Yuvan of the Dream Shake discusses the reasoning behind the intense scrutinization of Harden by the media and how he can overcome the negative perception that followed him this season.

This is a pivotal upcoming season for Harden’s career. Changes are coming to Houston both in the coach’s office and on the hardwood. There’s $40 million in money to spend (provided Howard opts out), a Kevin Durant sweepstakes to settle, a possible infection of Linsanity to navigate and various other roster-change possibilities.

Harden is signed for just two more seasons. If he, and the team, fail to make further progress, who knows where The Beard’s path leads after the 2018 season?

More from Space City Scoop

In addition to acquiring quality free agents this offseason, Houston must improve its defense before the start of next season. After being a defensive powerhouse in 2014-2015, the Rockets were a complete failure on that side of the court this past year. The new assistant coach, Jeff Bzdelik, will implement new defensive schemes, as reported by Space City Scoop’s Joshua Van Horn. The big question, though, is whether or not he can get the team to buy in.

"Bzdelik seems to have the knowledge and experience needed to be a solid defensive coach. My worry is whether or not the players will be able to completely buy in to both coaches. It’s not that the coaches will be at odds with one another– they will definitely be on the same page– it’s just that players already have a hard time buying into a philosophy preached by a single coach."

There are still a lot of unanswered questions that the Rockets have to address, but they’ve made steps in the right direction. Stay tuned in to Space City Scoop for more updates as the summer progresses.

Send our Editor any Rockets-related article/video/tweet/gram/vine that we may have missed via Twitter direct message to @TTOTambz.

Next: Complete 2016 and 2017 Free Agents List

Next: Rockets Owner Les Alexander Defends Mike D'Antoni

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