With the Rockets season ending a lot earlier than even the most battered of fans imagined, instead of having a quick knee jerk reaction to what the team should do in free agency or trades, I took a couple of weeks to heal. My first choice would have been to move on from Kevin McHale as head coach because I believe a better coached team doesn’t lose that series to Portland, but now that we know he is staying, let’s look at some realistic possibilities to add to the Houston roster this Summer.
We know that Daryl Morey isn’t just sitting in his office with his feet propped up and proclaiming “my work here is done” just because he was able to pair up Harden and Howard. However, I’m not so sure he’s looking for another max guy to cripple the team’s cap flexibility going forward. Therefore, short of hypnotizing LeBron to come to Houston, I’m going to ignore the same tired rhetoric of Carmelo Anthony and Kevin Love; even if I feel like one of those guys is a real possibility.
Here is my somewhat realistic wishlist for when free agency opens in early July and note that I am going to mostly ignore the financials about who would have to go out before a deal can happen. One of Jeremy Lin or Omer Asik will likely be moved to create flexibility, so just assume that has happened before considering any of these guys. Here we go.
# 5 Lance Stephenson, SF, Indiana
In this scenario, Chandler Parsons is probably dealt in the offseason. I do not believe the team wants to do that, but in thinking with moneyball terms in mind, this would be the year to do it. Perhaps in a sign and trade to the Pacers for Stephenson, the Rockets get back a starter at the same position that can man up big time on defense and has the versatility to play two to three positions. Indy won’t let him go without a fight, but as an unrestricted guy, they might be forced to work out a deal before losing him for nothing.
# 4 Eric Bledsoe, PG, Phoenix
The Suns brass has already come out and said they will match any offer for Bledsoe on the market this year, as is their right for a restricted free agent. This one is certainly unlikely without working out a sign and trade. Houston has to upgrade at the point guard position and Bledsoe could be a perfect fit for their run ‘n gun offense.
# 3 Luol Deng, SF, Cleveland
I can’t think of a free agent that would fit the Rockets offseason needs any more than Luol Deng. An elite perimeter defender that can fill it up on offense as well. I would imagine Cleveland is going to throw some big time money at him after giving up a plethora of picks to acquire him. But one never knows what the Cavs front office is thinking.
#2 Kyle Lowry, PG, Toronto
Every player says they will consider re-signing with Toronto before they hit the market. Then, free agency opens up and it’s nothing but tail lights. We all remember how Lowry pouted his way out of town and his friction with coach McHale, but Lowry himself has went on record saying that was a mistake. I would hope the team doesn’t let that sway their chances of picking up the point guard that I believe would make this roster title contenders in 2014-15. He can shoot, he can defend and he can be that pit bull this team so desperately needs. Of the five on this list, he’s my most realistic target.
#1 Dirk Nowitzki, PF, Dallas
After watching Terrence Jones just get bullied by LaMarcus Aldridge in the playoffs, the excuse of “well, that guy does that to everyone” should no longer apply. Houston will never be a playoff threat if they don’t upgrade the four and this would be the dream scenario. I realize it is very unrealistic because of the close relationship between Dirk and Mavs owner Mark Cuban, but just what if Dwight or Harden can talk him into one last shot at a ring? There is not a better fit in the NBA for this glaring need in Houston. I don’t even like Dirk, personally, but I’d be running up and down the halls at my office if they could make this one happen. Still, I see him taking less money in Dallas for them to bring in one of the big fish free agents next year. But a boy can dream, right?
I do not believe the Miami trio will be splitting up this summer, so Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh won’t be mentioned as well as trading for Rajon Rondo. If I know anything about Daryl Morey, he’ll make some crazy move none of us are expecting nor have predicted. At this point, would any of us be surprised?
Be sure to let us know your wishlist in the comments below.