The Rockets need some depth and defensive ability to keep themselves competitive in the West. Here’s a couple names that could join the team on minimum contracts in the coming future.
With Trevor Ariza and more recently, Luc Mbah a Moute, both leaving town for more lucrative deals elsewhere, the Rockets have been left with a gaping hole in their depth chart and a need for some replacement defensive personnel. With a shallow pool of significant free agents and limited cap room, Houston will be filling out their roster with mostly lesser known players signed to minimum contracts.
Dante Cunningham is a potential candidate for one such deal. He is a 31-year-old, nine-year NBA veteran combo-forward who has suited up for seven NBA teams. He’s averaged a subtle six points and four rebounds through his career, but as with many minimum contract candidates, his stats don’t fully measure his impact.
With a 6’8″, 230-pound frame and a nearly seven-foot wingspan, he’d provide the Rockets with some much-needed length to help out on the defensive end of the floor. He’s also a decent three-point shooter, shooting at a 35% clip this season and 38% in his 22 games after being traded to the Brooklyn Nets.
He’s not a game-changer, but he’s a guy that can contribute and do some of the simple things that every team needs done, and with Houston’s forward slots looking ultralight at this point in the offseason, he’s exactly the type of guy they could look to sign.
James Ennis III is a similar candidate to Cunningham, and he’s already been reported to have met with the Rockets’ management team regarding a potential deal. You can read an expanded case for his signing with Houston, written by Space City Scoop’s own Michael Knight, here.
Quincy Acy is a potentially cheap backup center for a Houston team that is lacking one. With Nene aging into a smaller and smaller role, and younger guys in the organization like Zhou Qi lacking NBA experience, Acy is someone Houston could plug-in immediately to soak up some minutes and give Clint Capela (assuming he re-signs) some needed rest.
He averaged six points and four boards per game on a pretty atrocious 36% shooting clip, but it’s plausible that production and efficiency would improve as he potentially shares the floor with two all-time great passers in Chris Paul and James Harden. It would certainly be an easier position for him to be effective than Brooklyn was this year. Even with a potential production boost, Acy still isn’t a huge pickup or a signing that will shake the league by any means, but he’s one of the better options remaining in the free agent market.
Regardless if it’s these guys, or some different free agents, Houston will need to address this depth issue before the season gets underway. With some small-name free agent signings, some trades down the line, and potentially the addition of Carmelo Anthony to the roster, the Rockets can salvage a lackluster offseason and remain a competitive force in the West.