How Rockets blast into free agency has reshaped Houston's roster

The Rockets made a flurry of moves in free agency. Photo via: Wiki Commons.

The Rockets went into the 2023 free agency period with money to spend and positions they wished to fill. When you're making the transition from perennial tanker and want to be taken seriously as a playoff contender, you need better players. Whether they're drafted, signed, or traded, acquiring better talent is key. When adding veteran talent to a young team that isn't used to winning, you have to add the right kind of vets. Guys who are used to winning, that'll help change the culture. Guys who work hard and take being a pro seriously.

Out the gate, the Rockets handed out the first max contract of the free agency period, signing Fred Van Vleet to a three-year deal worth $130 million. Some will say they overpaid, but I think they paid close to fair market value for a guy who was a key cog on a title team not long ago. He was third in steals per game last season, and shoots 37% from three for his career. Add that he's a good distributor and constant professional, it's easy to see why they paid him what they did. I said a couple weeks ago that Van Vleet was a stable option whose price would go up if others were interested. They had to throw big money at him to lure him away from the only NBA home he's known.

The Dillon Brooks signing was one I was conflicted about. Sure, he can be a three and D wing, but this team has guys who can play that role. Yes, but they don't have a guy who's proven in that role. The guys they have, haven't grown to this level yet. However, Brooks wasn't welcomed back in Memphis due to his antics this postseason. Poking the bear and dodging the media after games where you performed poorly was enough for them. Include his other goofball tendencies, and it's clear why they moved on. Brooks won't be allowed to get away with things like that under Udoka. That's why I'm warming up to the idea of having him on this team. Come in, be a pro, do your job, and STFU. I'll reserve the nickname I have for him until he messes up.

“WHO?!?” That was my legit reaction to hearing Jock Landale's signing. I looked him up and realized it was the guy I saw play some okay minutes for the Suns. He's not going to stick out in any one category. What he will do is be a solid inside presence on defense. Having him playing inside in tight games down the stretch will prove valuable because he can also hit his free throws since he's a career 77% from the charity stripe. Tough mentality, doesn't need plays called for him, and the Suns actually played him over Deandre Ayton at times.

Jeff Green is a pro's pro. The guy thought his career was over at one point with a heart condition. He took time off, got healthy, and resumed his career. This past season, he was one of the key role-playing vets on a Nuggets team that won the title. Green wore a Seattle Supersonics hat to the parade because that was the team that drafted him out of Georgetown. He's a guy that knows the game and knows what it takes to be an NBA player for over ten years. I'd want a Jeff Green on any team I'm coaching, regardless of the sport.

When Ime Udoka said this, people read all sorts of things into it. One thing is for sure, they stuck with this plan. James Harden, Kyrie Irving, and Zion Williamson did not fit this description. Dillon Brooks doesn't fit this description in my opinion, but they obviously feel otherwise. One of the smartest things the team did was getting a team option for Van Vleet's third year. They have to approach free agency with another boat load of cash to spend in two years when Jalen Green and other guys are eligible for rookie extensions. While Jeff Green is an older vet on a one-year deal, the other contracts aren't as outrageous as we might think. Brooks' deal can be moved, so can Landale's. They got better while maintaining flexibility. I may not agree with everything, but I understand why they did what they did. Phase Two, here they come!

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After another poor performance from former Houston Texans QB Deshaun Watson, the Cleveland Browns' season is starting to look like an uphill climb. Pro Bowl running back Nick Chubb is out for the year, and Cleveland fans aren't too pleased with the way Watson is playing, especially considering the massive contract extension he signed with the team. And we didn't even get to the off the field drama that comes with Watson.

However, Houston fans are invested in the Browns' season outcome as well, with the Texans holding the Browns' first round pick in 2024, and having sent their own first rounder to the Cardinals in the Will Anderson trade.

So each loss for the Browns, means a better draft pick for the Texans!

For Houston, it looks like they have their QB of the future in CJ Stroud. And he'll be on a less expensive rookie contract for the next several years, giving the Texans more cap space to upgrade the roster.

With all of this in mind, is it fair to question if the Texans dodged a bullet when Watson demanded a trade?

DeMeco Ryans vs. Lovie Smith

Plus, we're only two games into the season, but Lovie Smith's defense was much better (with a similar roster) than what DeMeco Ryans' defense has shown thus far, and DeMeco has the benefit of Will Anderson rushing the QB.

Are the struggles on defense more about the roster GM Nick Caserio has put together, or does this slow start fall on DeMeco?

Don't miss the video above as we break it all down!

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