Players Lost: Goran Dragic (to Suns) Chase Budinger (to Wolves) Marcus Camby (to Knicks) Samuel Dalembert (to Bucks) Courtney Lee (to Celtics) Kyle Lowry (to Raptors) Josh Harrellson* Jerome Jordan* Jon Leuer (to Cavs) E’Twaun Moore (to Magic) Luis Scola (to Suns) Diamon Simpson Sean Williams
Daryl Morey entered the 2012 NBA offseason with one goal in mind, be the most active NBA team in terms of player movement. The Rockets were set on improving their roster and no player from last years roster was going to get in the way. There was a moment in time when the Rockets believed they were a legitimate contender to land the services of Dwight Howard. This leads us to our first player lost that will backfire. Luis Scola is by no means a top tier NBA big man; he can’t lead a team on either end of the floor nor do you want to him to. However, simply cutting a 6 foot 9 power forward who has missed just 8 games in the past 5 seasons and without any argument is good for about 18 points and 8 rebounds a night makes absolutely no sense to me. Not to mention the fact that he was being paid a modest $17 million (approximately) over the next three seasons. Not a bad price for a guy who has played almost every game for your team for the past 5 years.
The Rockets also lost a guy in Kyle Lowry who when healthy last season, was an all-star. The Lowry trade with the Raptors sent back Gary Forbes and a future first round pick. Lowry was certainly unhappy playing in Houston, but with a little more research and time the Rockets could have brought in a better package for the young point guard. Speaking of young point guards, the Rockets also lost Goran Dragic this off season. While he chose to leave via free agency on his own terms, the Rockets didn’t do much to up the offer the Suns had given Dragic.
In more understandable basketball moves, the Rockets also lost fan favorite Chase Budinger, veterans Marcus Camby, Samuel Dalembert and Courtney Lee.
1-10 Players Lost Score: 5.5
Players Obtained: Jeremy Lamb (No. 12) Royce White (No. 16) Terrence Jones (No. 18) Furkan Aldemir (No. 53)* Donatas Motiejunas (No. 20, 2011) Omer Asik (from Bulls) Carlos Delfino (from Bucks) Jeremy Lin (from Knicks) Scott Machado, Jon Brockman (from Bucks) Jon Diebler (from Blazers) Toney Douglas (from Knicks) Gary Forbes (from Raptors) JaJuan Johnson (from Celtics) Shaun Livingston (from Bucks)
We all know a thing or two about the Rockets off season. Before we get into the “Linsanity” of it all, let’s first discuss the powerful draft that the Rockets had. While it appeared to be an approach to land Dwight Howard, the Rockets stockpiled young talent that will all play a major role this coming season. Jeremy Lamb could end up starting alongside Kevin Martin at the two and three respectively. Royce White and Terrence Jones will both be fighting for the bulk of the power forward minutes vacated by the departure of Scola. The Rockets are slowly compiling a youthful roster with two rookies potentially starting and only Carlos Delfino cracking the 30 mark.
Another new starter for the Rockets will be that of the highly overpaid Omer Asik. Very big and young, and potentially talented but has never proved a thing, yet earned the same contract as Jeremy Lin. Only thing is, no one is talking about it. Asik was certainly a need for the Rockets, as they lost all low post presence they had in Camby, Dalembert and Scola but perhaps they could have spent the money better elsewhere.
All right, let’s do this. Do you guys remember last December when the Rockets signed Jeremy Lin for a few thousand bucks, but then cut him a couple weeks later for Samuel Dalembert? Yeah, that happened. But hey, like the Suns recently did with Dragic, successful NBA executives must realize and accept when they’ve made a mistake and fix it. Every argument about whether or not Lin deserves the contract he was given by the Rockets has already been had thus we will not spend too much time having it. The Knicks are the only team who could have justifiably given Lin the contract the Rockets eventually signed him to. Why? Well, answer me this. Who did the Knicks sign with the money they didn’t use to sign Jeremy Lin? That’s right, no one. That is because Lin was a restricted free agent and when you have a chance to spend more money on your roster than all other teams are allowed to then you take that opportunity. The Rockets used available cap space that they could have used to signed an all-star this off season or even next off season as they are certainly in a rebuilding phase. The Knicks lose big time here, but so do the Rockets.
All in all, great draft for the Rockets; terrible free agency spending.
1-10 Players Obtained Score: 8
Short Term Outlook: Don’t expect the Rockets to make a push on that tough 8th seed in the Western conference this year, or next year. Lin could return to the D-League, Asik might be overwhelmed with minutes and get injured, 1 of the 3 rookies drafted in the top 18 spots this off-season will end up being good, if they’re lucky. K-Mart is still not that good and is only getting older, also he probably won’t be on the team come midseason and certainly not by next year.
Or possibly Lin is an all-star and Martin averages 25 ppg, Lamb receives ROY votes while White and Jones successfully platoon at the 4 spot and Asik becomes the Tyson Chandler that every team needs. A lot will need to line up for the Rockets to be good in the short-term. With no real players to fall back on, the Rockets can’t be given the benefit of the doubt here.
1-10 Short Term Outlook Score: 7
Long Term Outlook: Lin is 23, Lamb is 20, White is 21, Jones is 20, Asik is 26, Patterson is 23, Parsons is 23. You get my point, the Rockets are young. With even more than the above listed falling under the age of 25, the Rockets are almost guaranteed to find player worth building around. They’ll certainly be an exciting team to watch, but they’re no Oklahoma City.
The Rockets certainly seem to be building their roster much like the Thunder have built their roster. Only problem is, not one guy on the Rockets roster comes near the talent of Durant, Westbrook, Harden and Ibaka. However, with mostly small contracts over the next two seasons, the eventual expiring contract of Kevin Martin after this season and a GM willing to spend big money, the Rockets might end up landing a player who could lead this team deep into contention.
State of the Organization: 28.5 out of 40
1-10 Long Term Outlook Score: 8