The NBA has had a monumental shift of its landscape in the past few days and as the dust settles from the gigantic change, there are still valuable free agents available that could help put the Houston Rockets over the top in a stacked Western Conference.
While there seems to be a sense of growing anxiety among Rockets’ fans due to the lack of big moves, Houston is bringing back most of the core that made their 2019 playoff run.
That core went 36-14 from Christmas Day onward.
Despite the great record, there is a consensus amongst Rockets fans and around the league that last season’s core is not enough to defeat the new-look Los Angeles teams, and some pundits have even put Houston behind the Utah Jazz, Denver Nuggets and Portland Trailblazers.
With the Rockets’ starters from a season ago set to return for 2019-2020, Houston must now focus on improving the supporting cast around them to strengthen their chances of surviving the west.
Here are three players that could help the Rockets win the Western crown:
Next: No. 3
Houston is still in need of a strong backup big behind Clint Capela, and JaMychal Green is the perfect candidate to fill that role.
The 6-foot-9-inch “forward” out of the University of Alabama would fit in nicely with the Rockets as a big man because he is a keen rebounder of the ball (averaging 6.3 rebounds in 2018-19 in only 21.1 minutes of action), and can even space out the floor as he shot an outstanding 40.3% from behind the three-point line.
Undoubtedly one of the biggest weaknesses for the Rockets a season ago was rebounding. Houston’s team defensive rebounding was 29th in the league.
With Green, Houston adds size and versatility which will be desperately needed night-in and night-out in the wild west.
Next: No. 2
The Memphis Grizzlies recently waived Avery Bradley which now allows him to enter free agency.
The 9-year veteran guard has become somewhat of a journeyman in the past couple of seasons as he has played for three teams in two seasons, but his skillsets have remained relatively consistent despite the constant change of scenery.
Bradley is a career 36.4% three-point shooter and can also play off the ball and attack the basket on occasion.
Bradley would provide insurance at the guard position for Houston in the event of an injury, and could also allow for Chris Paul‘s minutes to be reduced as Bradley can play both point and shooting guard.
Next: No. 1
When Kevin Durant announced he was joining the Brooklyn Nets, he worked with the Golden State Warriors which allowed them to orchestrate a trade that netted them the first-time All-Star D’Angelo Russell.
In order for the Warriors to acquire D-Lo, they had to first trade away Andre Iguodala.
Since the moment it was announced that Iggy had been traded to Memphis, it was reported that the Grizzlies would look to move him either via another trade or by reaching a buyout agreement and allowing Iggy to become a free agent.
The 2015 NBA Finals MVP has been a thorn on the Rockets side ever since the Warriors began their dynastic run, and Houston has tried to pry Iguodala before.
If the Rockets decide that Iggy is a key piece that they must have, they can acquire him by doing a sign-and-trade with Iman Shumpert which would likely include draft picks, or they can wait for the Grizzlies to buy him out.
In a buyout scenario, Houston would have to compete with other teams to land him.
Iguodala’s impact needs no explanation. With as many elite guards and forwards now calling the Western Conference their home, Iggy’s elite defense will give the Rockets a huge edge.
Iguodala is also very fond of shooting inside Toyota Center as many Rockets’ fans know. Iggy shot a phenomenal 48% from behind the three-point line against the Rockets during the Western Conference Semifinals.
The one drawback with Iguodala is his age. At 35 years old, he cannot take on the grind of an entire regular season plus the playoffs. If the Rockets were to land him, it would be wise to take every precaution possible and could rest him on certain nights similar to how the team did with Nene for several seasons.