Jermaine Every: Some names to watch as possible future Rockets
LeBron has opted out of his contract with the Cavs and decided to sign a four-year deal with the Lakers. Paul George decided to stay with the Thunder. The Rockets went on to re-sign Chris Paul to a four-year, $160 million-dollar deal, although they lost Trevor Ariza to the Suns. The team is also in negotiations with restricted free agent Clint Capela. The Rockets have the right of first refusal since Capela is restricted. Meaning, if another team signs him to an offer sheet, the Rockets have seven days to match. So far, no team has signed Capela to an offer sheet. This bodes well for their chances to retain him at a relatively decent salary, and sans any poison pills. Also, bringing back Gerald Green on a veteran minimum deal was underrated.
So what’s next for the Rockets? What will they do now? They drafted a couple guys in the second round in De’Anthony Melton (6’4, 200lbs) and Vincent Edwards (6’8, 225lbs). Melton is a slashing defender, while Edwards is a solid 3-point shooter. Neither is expected to contribute much this season. If I had to say who is more likely to see more valuable court time this year, I’d say Edwards. He can step into the small forward/wing role vacated by Trevor Ariza. Melton may only see garbage time, or may earn more time as a defensive replacement.
There are still free agents to pursue that can help this team. But the team doesn’t have the cap space to sign any high dollar guys and will once again have to bargain buy. Here are a few guys I believe Daryl Morey can secure at a reasonable price:
Avery Bradley, Guard
Bradley is the type of “three and D” guy you need on the perimeter. He’s a proven veteran who remains unsigned. Paul has an extensive injury history and Bradley can provide valuable backcourt depth. Someone like him can aid in the loss of Ariza as he can help fill the quarterback of the defense role on the court. UPDATE: Bradley agreed to a deal with the Clippers.
Isaiah Thomas, Guard
I know. I know. He’s a wee fella that’s a defensive liability. But his scoring punch off the bench at the backup point guard spot could work wonders. Thomas had an injury-plagued year and may be willing to take less money and a lesser role to rehab his image in hopes of one last payday.
Luc Mbah a Moute, Forward
His shoulder injury wasn’t fully healed and it seemed to affect him mentally in the playoffs. He’s 31 now and shouldn’t command much more than a veteran minimum contract to return to the Rockets. It’d be worth it to see if he can be the contributor they expected him to be last year.
Jeff Green, Forward
Green missed the ’11-’12 season due to a heart issue. Now that he’s been back and playing well for a few years, his love of the game has been evident. Last year, he proved valuable for the Cavs’ run to the Finals. A long athletic guy that is a willing defender and can score would be a welcomed edition.
Jamal Crawford, Guard
Crawford is a consummate professional who won the NBA Teammate of the Year Award in his 18th season. Crawford is a scoring savant still at age 38. The Warriors and Sixers are teams rumored to be in pursuit. This signing would not only strengthen the Rockets, but keep a potential scoring threat away from their biggest rival.
Alex Len, Center; Jahlil Okafor, Center; Rodney Hood, Forward; Yogi Ferrell, Guard
All of these guys are still out there and unsigned after the initial wave of free agency. None of them should command an outrageous salary because none of them are superstar caliber players. The Warriors just got even stronger with the addition of Demarcus Cousins (I have thoughts on this tomfoolery, but that’s another article). The Rockets can’t match talent with them, so they’ll need to add pieces that fit their puzzle. The better pieces, the better the fit, the better their chances are of knocking off the Warriors. Oh…and they have to watch out for that guy in Los Angeles also.