After completing a blockbuster deal for Russell Westbrook, the Houston Rockets still need to make a few moves to fill out the rest of the roster. Here are some options.
With all the big names off the free-agency bit board, the rest of the signings this summer won’t make the kind of bang a “Kawhi to the Clippers” notification did. However, that does not mean there still aren’t moves out there that could shape the title race next season, which means the Rockets aren’t done yet.
There are still several free-agents out there that could snag rotation minutes for one of the many contenders. The Houston Rockets currently have 18 players going into training camp, but eight of those contracts are non-guaranteed. This means that if the price is right on veteran or two, some of the younger guys could get the boot.
Andre Inguodala appears to be the piece Houston is looking at next, but if the price stays too high there will likely be a hole on the depth chart that will still need filled. Here are the best players fit to grab one of those end-of-the-rotation spots if everything falls into place.
4. Corey Brewer
First on the list takes us back to the Dwight Howard era. Brewer previously played nearly 200 games for Houston over the course of three seasons during those dysfunctional days. Although, he hasn’t averaged double-digit scoring since 2015, he won’t really need to with James Harden and Russell Westbrook manning the backcourt.
He’s a 6-foot 9 wing that can entangle twos and threes in his long limbs on the defensive end. The former Florida Gator may not be a knock-down shooter but he’s had respectable stretches with both the Thunder (34.3 percent on 6.5 attempts) at the end of 2018 and the Kings (33.3 percent on 4.0 attempts) at the end of last season. Add in the ring he won with the Mavericks in 2011 and he has many of the attributes the Rockets need in a bench player.
Nothing wrong with another reunion. Although, his shooting numbers dipped in a Rockets uniform last season, Shump has had some solid seasons in the past. After joining the team as part of the Marquese Chriss and Brandon Knight deal, his 3-point percentage dropped to 29.6 over twenty regular season contests after shooting a respectable 36.6 percent with the Kings to start the season.
Sporadic shooting has defined much of his career, but so has his defense. His physicality guarding either backcourt spot, or spot minutes at small forward, continue to give him an avenue to the floor even when the shots aren’t falling. Though, it does seem like he does enjoy the moments with the highest-stakes considering his career 3-point mark rises to 37.6 percentage in the playoffs.
2. Vince Carter
It’s only appropriate that Vinsanity’s final season would be in a Rockets’ uniform. The days of jumping over 7-footers are behind him (at least we think), but as he aged into his 30s and even 40s, he evolved like few superstars before him. He still knocks down threes at an above average clip (38.9 percent last season) and is a great leader in the locker room. He’s a smart cutter that can fill in spot minutes as a stretch four at this stage of his career.
Here is another oversized wing that fills a hole the team has left mostly unfilled since they let Trevor Ariza and Luc Mbah a Moute walk last summer. Although injuries have forced the Swiss swingman to miss 76 games over the last two seasons, he’s still a valuable player when healthy. A 6-foot 7 and 220 pounds wing that converts long-range looks at a 43.6 percent clip can fit into any team’s rotation.
FiveThirtyEight’s Draymond metric also grades him in the upper echelon of defenders over the last five seasons. Imagine adding him to a closing lineup with Westbrook, Harden, Eric Gordon, and P.J. Tucker. You’ll have someone with enough gravity to keep his man from doubling either MVP who could then run down and put the clamps on an All-Star at the other end. What more could you ask for?