Here's a fun, outside the box look at 4 Houston Rockets offseason targets

Let's play the Rockets offseason “Dating Game!” Composite Getty Image.

On Thursday, June 22, the NBA will hold its draft. Currently, the Rockets have the fourth and 20th overall picks in the first round. They also have a bleep ton of cap space they have to use. On Friday, June 30 at 5pm our time, teams are allowed to enter negotiations with players. July 6 at 10:01am, our time, is when teams can officially sign players, extend them, and complete trades. Anything announced before then is simply agreed upon and not finalized. This team is poised to have a transformational offseason…if they choose wisely.

And here's where they enter what I call the NBA's mating season or “Dating Game.” The Rockets are a single organization rebounding from a bad breakup a few years ago. They took time to themselves for therapy and a ton of self reflection. After working on getting themselves ready, and a few bouts of casual dating, they're poised to re-enter the dating pool. Let's take a look at a few candidates:

James Harden: Harden is the ex that the Rockets had the bad breakup with. He wanted out because he felt the team was no longer pulling its weight in the relationship. In reality, he was the one who created a toxic environment, but was allowed to do so because the organization enabled him. They both could've handled things better. It ended the way it did because both parties wanted different things at the time. Now, it appears as if Harden sees the way the organization has turned itself into a dime and wants to come back. That, or he's using their interest in a potential reunion to get what he really wants from the organization who can give it to him. Final Thought: Stay away! Don't look backwards when moving forwards. Some relationships ended for your benefit. Some exes realize what they lost and want to come back. It'll cost you too much to bring him back and could set you behind in developing the rest of your dating roster.

Kyrie Irving: Kyrie is the type to gaslight his partners. He's also supremely talented and will make his partners fall in love with his skills. When something else catches his eye, the game will change. He then becomes less focused on what he currently has and turns his focus on getting what he wants next. His interests will vary, but some of them stay consistent. He's worth the headache if he can keep his focus on where he's presently laying his head. Whimsical is one way to describe him. Final Thought: Might be fine for a fling, but nothing long-term. He hasn't been in a sustainable long term relationship in six years and shows signs he'll never be in one again.

Zion Williamson: Another very talented guy whose potential is unlimited. Unlike the first two candidates, he's much younger. However, he also has a history of ghosting his dates for various periods due to his ongoing health concerns. There's nothing wrong with dating someone who has health concerns, but when looking for a long-term relationship, one has to consider health as a factor. Add to this the fact that he seems to be enamored with spreading his seed across as many fertile grounds as possible. Not the ideal person to start dating now, but maybe in a few years when he's matured and has gotten more experience. Final Thought: The juice may be worth the squeeze with this one. He would come with a lower price tag given his history. He's young and may still be impressionable enough to be molded properly.

Fred VanVleet: Fred is the guy who was the nerd in high school, went to college, got his Master's, and is now a homeowner. He's as steady as they come. He was ignored for the longest time. Once he started making good money, exercising regularly, and bought his own home, he became a lot more attractive. Some still won't take much interest in him because he's labeled as boring, or not a bad boy. When looking for a long term relationship, VanVleet is the ideal guy because he provides stability, honesty, faithfulness, and can provide. Final Thought: Worth kicking the tires on. May not be as expensive as other options. However, if he's seen as a prize by others, the competition will increase and the price will go up.

Rookies: There's a new crop of young, talented guys coming into the league every year. While the big Frenchie is seen as the top prize, I have concerns about his health long term. Scoot Henderson and Brandon Miller are the next best two candidates. Scoot may want to test the waters before settling down, or he may be the type to want to commit early. Miller has an incident in his recent past that may give cause for pause due to his alleged involvement in a murder. The Thompson twins are good athletes with nice skills, but can't shoot their way out of a wet paper bag. If you think Scoot or Miller is worth the trade up, could be determined on how you feel about their long-term relationship status. Outside those two, I'm not really sold on anyone else. Final Thought: All these candidates are very young with huge upsides. The gamble is much higher on them than the proven commodities. The kicker comes in when you consider how impressionable they are and how the organization can mold them. They provide the longest sustainability for a committed relationship.

Thanks for coming out to our meet the candidates preview! Please be sure to tune into our "Final Rose" ceremony on July 7 when we reveal the outcome of the Rockets Dating Game!

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With the end of the regular season in sight, the Houston Astros host the Kansas City Royals on Friday night, coming off a huge walk-off 2-1 win against the Orioles.

Two players from the finale against Baltimore really stood out for the 'Stros. Jeremy Pena, who had a clutch double late in the game, and Cristian Javier.

Javier struck out 11 batters over 5 innings surrendering only one run, which was exactly what the Astros needed in possibly the most important game of the regular season.

Both Pena and Javier were critical pieces to the Astros title in 2022, and it looks like they're rounding into form at just the right time.

Javier's struggles have caused many to question who would be the team's third starter in the postseason, behind Framber Valdez and Justin Verlander. Let's put this to bed right now, it's Javier.

This should be everything you need to know. Let's start with Hunter Brown. Brown has given up 5 earned runs or more in 4 of his last 7 starts.

How about JP France? France has surrendered 5 or more earned runs in 3 of his last 5 games.

However, Cristian Javier hasn't allowed 5 or more runs in a start since July 3. Javier may only give you 5 innings, but that's actually pretty common for starters in the playoffs. Teams typically remove their starters before the third time through the order.

Prime Time Pena

While the power hasn't been there for Pena this year, he is swinging the bat much better of late. Over his last 30 games, he's hitting .325 while slugging .453. Pena may only have 10 bombs on the year, but he's getting on base and hitting plenty of doubles.

If these two can contribute at a similar level to last postseason, the sky is the limit for the 2023 Astros.

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