Houston Rockets: 3 viable free agency options at backup center

By Michael Brown
LOS ANGELES, CA - JANUARY 15: Tyson Chandler #5 of the Los Angeles Lakers reacts against the Chicago Bulls on January 15, 2019 at STAPLES Center in Los Angeles, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2019 NBAE (Photo by Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE via Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES, CA - JANUARY 15: Tyson Chandler #5 of the Los Angeles Lakers reacts against the Chicago Bulls on January 15, 2019 at STAPLES Center in Los Angeles, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2019 NBAE (Photo by Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE via Getty Images)
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HOUSTON, TX – MAY 10: Clint Capela #15 of the Houston Rockets is introduced before Game Six of the Western Conference Semifinals against the Golden State Warriors during the 2019 NBA Playoffs on May 10, 2019 at the Toyota Center in Houston, Texas. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2019 NBAE (Photo by Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE via Getty Images)
HOUSTON, TX – MAY 10: Clint Capela #15 of the Houston Rockets is introduced before Game Six of the Western Conference Semifinals against the Golden State Warriors during the 2019 NBA Playoffs on May 10, 2019 at the Toyota Center in Houston, Texas. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2019 NBAE (Photo by Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE via Getty Images)

The Houston Rockets have title aspirations headed into the 2019-2020 season, and with that being the case, they have to add an experienced veteran at the backup center position. They cannot rely on 21-year-old Hartenstein to handle the job on his own.

Well Rockets fans, the wait continues. The wait to see what does Daryl Morey and the rest of the Houston Rockets front office brass has up their sleeves to help improve this roster going into next season. One area that needs to be addressed as soon as possible is the backup center position.

While the young Isaiah Hartenstein has shown some promise in the Summer League and in the G League season last year, he still isn’t quite there yet. His defensive issues are evident at times and he could use one more year of growing as a player. His rebounding is solid, though, so maybe he can get a look at some point this season.

The market is dwindling, but I believe there are still 3 guys that could make a positive impact for next season. The Rockets will need to start acting fast, though, because players are being signed right and left. Who could they look to add to the roster to help out?

Next: Tyson Chandler

LOS ANGELES, CA – JANUARY 15: Tyson Chandler #5 of the Los Angeles Lakers reacts against the Chicago Bulls on January 15, 2019 at STAPLES Center in Los Angeles, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2019 NBAE (Photo by Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE via Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES, CA – JANUARY 15: Tyson Chandler #5 of the Los Angeles Lakers reacts against the Chicago Bulls on January 15, 2019 at STAPLES Center in Los Angeles, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2019 NBAE (Photo by Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE via Getty Images)

Tyson Chandler

The first, and best possible outcome, would be Center Tyson Chandler. Tyson, who is 36 years old, had a relatively quiet 2018-2019 campaign. He appeared in 48 games for the Lakers, while averaging on a per game basis: 16.4 Minutes, 3.1 Points, 5.6 rebounds, and shot 60.9 percent from the field. The Rockets were the 3rd worst rebounding team in the league last season, and having a guy like Tyson Chandler to help in that department, certainly would not hurt in the efforts to becoming much more effective on the boards.

Source: Tyson Chandler is likely target for Rockets in their search for backup big. Chandler, who turns 37 in October, was effective defender and rebounder as reserve for Lakers last year. He has a rep as a great locker room guy and strong relationship with CP3 from N.O. days.

— Tim MacMahon (@espn_macmahon) July 7, 2019

Yes, his numbers do not jump off of the screen at first glance, but, the Rockets would be bringing him in for other reasons outside of what he could put onto a stat sheet. Per a tweet from Tim MacMahon of ESPN, “He has a rep as a great locker room guy and has a strong relationship with CP3 from N.O. days “. As previously stated, the market left for backup centers is quickly drying up, and adding Chandler would be about as good as it could get for the Houston Rockets.

Next: Kosta Koufos

LOS ANGELES, CA – MARCH 24: Sacramento Kings Center Kosta Koufos (41) before the Sacramento Kings vs Los Angeles Lakers game on March 24, 2019, at STAPLES Center in Los Angeles, CA. (Photo by Icon Sportswire)
LOS ANGELES, CA – MARCH 24: Sacramento Kings Center Kosta Koufos (41) before the Sacramento Kings vs Los Angeles Lakers game on March 24, 2019, at STAPLES Center in Los Angeles, CA. (Photo by Icon Sportswire)

Kosta Koufos

If the Rockets are unable to add Tyson Chandler, the next best available option for the backup Center position would be Kosta Koufos. Per a tweet from Marc Stein (circa 2016), the Rockets had a desire to bring Koufos onto the roster at that time. Would that desire remain in 2019? He has declined steadily over the past 2 seasons playing for the Kings, but that could be directly due to a lack of minutes on the court.

Trade rumble: Houston has made no secret of its desire to add a big man and the Kings' Kosta Koufos, I'm told, has emerged as a prime target

— Marc Stein (@TheSteinLine) December 30, 2016

In 2018-2019, he only averaged 12.0 minutes per game, while only appearing in 42 games. The two aspects of his game that I like most would be: He is only 30 years old, and he is 7 feet tall. Is it possible that coming to an organization that has shown interest in him previously, could help resurrect his career and turn him an integral part of the Rockets bench brigade?

Next: Amir Johnson

CHARLOTTE, NC – MARCH 19: Amir Johnson #5 of the Philadelphia 76ers looks on during the game against the Charlotte Hornets on March 19, 2019 at Spectrum Center in Charlotte, North Carolina. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2019 NBAE (Photo by Kent Smith/NBAE via Getty Images)
CHARLOTTE, NC – MARCH 19: Amir Johnson #5 of the Philadelphia 76ers looks on during the game against the Charlotte Hornets on March 19, 2019 at Spectrum Center in Charlotte, North Carolina. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2019 NBAE (Photo by Kent Smith/NBAE via Getty Images)

Amir Johnson

If both of those options are unavailable, I would be intrigued at the idea of adding utility big man, Amir Johnson. Amir, at 32 years old, stands 6 foot 9 inches. In 2018-2019, he appeared in 51 games for the Philadelphia 76ers; he averaged 3.9 points per game and 2.9 rebounds per game while averaging 10.4 minutes per game.

The numbers certainly do not jump off the page at you, but in adding him to the roster, allows the Rockets to throw a variety of looks at the opposing team. At 6 feet 9 inches, in today’s NBA, he could certainly play some backup minutes to starter Clint Capela at the center position. I could also see him playing some minutes at the power forward position.

Next. Why the Rockets shouldn't trade for Westbrook

I understand the atmosphere around the Houston Rockets fan base is growing to be very nervous at the lack of moves to improve the roster. However, I would caution you to doubt Daryl Morey’s ability to improve his roster at any time. What are your thoughts Rockets fans? Which one of these 3 guys would you like to see added to the roster? Thanks for reading, and as always, GO ROCKETS !!

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