2. Kai Jones
Yes, I know. Kai Jones has become more universally known for his erratic behavior on social media, which includes calling out Charlote Hornets players, who were his teammates at the time. The Hornets’ brass made the decision to release Jones, following his request to be traded and he’s remained a free agent ever since.
The latest on the University of Texas product isn’t quite that great either, as the LA Clippers reportedly kicked the tires and determined that he isn’t in physical or mental condition to play right now. Any suggestion or consideration of Jones would be under the assumption that these issues are remedied.
Rockets coach Ime Udoka could be a strong voice to help reel Jones in line and long-time Rockets assistant coach John Lucas has a history of successfully working with such players. And Jones hasn’t committed any crimes or found himself on the wrong side of the law. It also should be noted that the culture in Charlotte isn’t all that great (to put it politely).
On the floor, Jones is an insanely athletic big man, who is 6-foot-11 and has merely scratch the surface of his potential. Defensively, Jones could add major value for the Rockets.
He’s flashed quickness on that end and has been a shot-swatter near the rim. He does get blown past quite often, but he has the mobility and quickness to recover, which has resulted in countless blocks. Oftentimes, after getting a stop, he runs the floor and gets back in transition to make a play offensively.
Jones is also a great communicator on defense. All told, Jones is a stellar rim protector and is serviceable on the perimeter. The issue is that Jones tends to have defensive lapses often, which could help under a defensive specialist like Udoka.
Again, if Jones is in the right mental state, he’d be well worth a stash for the Rockets, even if only for this season. His maturity issues could be remediated and his defensive strengths could be pivotal for the 2023-24 Rockets.