Five Things for the Rockets to Consider This Offseason
Another offseason is upon us in Houston. While other teams battle it out in the playoffs, Houston Rockets fans are left to wait until next year...again. With three straight lottery seasons and only one second round appearance since 1997, it's no wonder fans are fatigued and want to see things shaken up before the start of next year.
Since the roster is far from perfect and their draft pick is likely in the purgatory middle of the first round, nothing should be off the table for Les Alexander, Daryl Morey and Kevin McHale.
One thing we did learn is that McHale can coach. Even though they fizzled down the stretch, the coach pushed the right buttons with the limited amount of talent available to him -- particularly with Kyle Lowry and Kevin Martin out for long stretches -- and demonstrated a refreshing candor when it came to critiquing his players. Still, there are numerous other things with this team that do need fixing. Here are five.
5. Decide what to do with the point guard spot. It's funny how things work out. A couple years ago, Lowry and Goran Dragic were back-up point guards. Now, they are both legit starters among a class of point guards the likes of which the league has never seen. If either were starters 15 years ago, they might be among the best in the conference. Dragic showed he can carry the team and score with the best of them, but he is a free agent. Lowry has a team-friendly contract and a tenacious work ethic. But neither is a bona fide star at the position. In a way, they mirror the team: good to even very good at times, but not great. Figuring out who to keep will be an important decision for the team.
4. Do whatever you can to move up in the draft. Landing one of the top three spots in the draft lottery would be like winning the actual lottery, so let's assume for now that doesn't happen. That leaves the team with limited options in a year where everyone wants to be at the very top. This should be a solid draft class, but to get a real star, you need to pick in the top five and it will be tough to get there. The Rockets have a pair of middle first round picks, but that won't be enough. Depending on how high they can reach, any and every option should be on the table. They need a young star to build around and this is how teams do it.
3. Settle on Morey's future. Some consider him a wizard and others a flash in the pan. Morey is in a tough spot with an owner on one side demanding the team win now AND later and an increasingly impatient bunch of fans who want to see something spectacular on or off the floor, preferably both. By all accounts, the guy is a good GM, but he won't be considered among the elite until he can pull off the kind of deal his predecessor did numerous times with trades for Clyde Drexler, Charles Barkley, Scottie Pippen, Steve Francis and Tracy McGrady. If he can't get it done again this offseason, right or wrong, it will be time to evaluate his status with the team.
2. Sign a name free agent. For the first time in as long as I can remember, the Rockets will have cap space this offseason and quite a bit of it. There are some very big names on the open market, beginning and ending for the team with Deron Williams. Were the Rockets able to lure a point guard they've coveted for quite sometime, it could free up Lowry or Dragic in trade and give them a bargaining chip with other marquee name free agents. But, at this point, any signing would be a step in the right direction. As Bill Murray said in Groundhog Day , "Anything different is good."
1. Make a substantial trade. Not since the deal to land McGrady have the Rockets been close to making a blockbuster deal...until last offseason. Like Pau Gasol or not, the Rockets had a plan and they executed it perfectly until David Stern broke the rules and blasted the trade into a million pieces. But, there's no crying in basketball, so they need to put that behind them and get on the phone. Despite his preening and juvenile handling of his status in Orlando, Dwight Howard should be in their crosshairs. He should be the first, last and middle in their plans. The last big deal they made was to raid the Magic's closet and with their GM situation in flux, this could be the offseason to do it again.
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