Houston Rockets: 3 Free agent targets that would thrive in small ball

Houston Rockets mascot Clutch (Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images)
Houston Rockets mascot Clutch (Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images) /
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Wesley Matthews (Photo by Don Juan Moore/Getty Images)
Wesley Matthews (Photo by Don Juan Moore/Getty Images) /

Wesley Matthews: Shooting Guard/Small-Forward → Power Forward

Wesley Matthews has a player option for next season, but at only $2.69 million, he may look to hit free agency and see if he can get a more significant commitment. Either way, he should be a player on the Rockets’ radar.

Matthews is long past his prime, but he has retained his ability to hit the three-ball. Initially deployed as a shooting guard or small forward, Matthews has moved up the defensive spectrum due to league-wide trends and the ramifications of an Achilles injury suffered in 2015 that sapped his speed. Now primarily used as a spot-up shooter, Matthews looks to be on his last legs.

However, a move to a new role could rejuvenate Matthew’s offense and defense. At only 6-4, Matthews makes up for his lack of height with a 6-9 wingspan. His combination of length and strength could make him formidable against post-ups, a rarity in the NBA today, and would allow him to close out effectively on shooters. On offense is where Matthews could really thrive.

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Matthews may have lost a step since the days when he earned a max contract, but that’s the beauty of moving him up to the four. Power forwards are usually slower than guards and wings. Matthews will play faster by merely playing against slower defenders.

His credible 3-point shot combined with a guard’s skill set would allow him to cook more traditional forwards on the perimeter. Remember, you only have to be faster than the man covering you to win the race.

Matthews could have a similar renaissance to Jeff Green in a small-ball role in Houston. Not a starter anymore, Matthews would provide depth and the ability for the Rockets to go absolutely nuclear on offense. A lineup of Harden, Westbrook, House, Matthews, and Tucker might give up 115 points a game, but it could probably come within shouting distance of 130 night in, night out.

Next: Free Agent: No.1