The Houston Rockets Look To Be Key Players In Free Agency
The Rockets have made no qualms about their willingness to throw their hats into the ring for just about every big named free agent over the past two offseasons, and 2013 will be no different. Houston only has $38 million in committed salary in 2013-2014, and the team holds all the cards with regards to options for players such as Francisco Garcia, Carlos Delfino, Aaron Brooks, Chandler Parsons (who they will undoubtedly keep and pair with James Harden to build around), and Greg Smith. The importance of the team holding the option on these players is clear: if Houston wants to move on from those players, they can do so without penalty, and clear $15 million in cap space in total. Again, the Rockets are almost certainly going to retain Parsons, but the rest are still most likely to be jettisoned in favor of more impactful players. With nearly $40 million in cap space (following declined options), the Rockets figure to be a prime destination for free agents this summer and/or next.
The other reason why the Rockets are throwing the proverbial hat into the ring? The Rockets have surrendered their 1st Round pick via trades for a couple of seasons, and 2013 is another season where they have previously traded off picks that they would have had in the 2013 NBA Draft. The Rockets swapped what turned out to be the 12th, 18th and 26th picks in this year’s draft in order to make the plays to acquire the pieces that they now hold. If the Rockets are to build upon their 45-win season in 2012-2013, they will have to do it via free agency.
Although James Harden has cemented his reputation as an aggressive scorer and playmaker, and Parson has come into his own, there are one-dimensional specialists such as Omer Asik and Jeremy Lin whose contracts are currently tolerable, but will become albatrosses heading into the third year of their respective deals (for perspective, in 2014-2015, Lin and Asik will both earn more than James Harden).
The Rockets’ needs are plentiful. They need an interior scoring threat. Asik and Smith do not cut it. Thomas Robinson, who was acquired from Sacramento via trade during the 2012-2013 season, could end up being a force, but he is a bit undersized. The Rockets also need better perimeter defenders, because it was their undoing throughout the season and eventually, into the playoffs. With no draft selections available in this year’s draft, the Rockets will be bullish on free agents aplenty.
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