Through the disappointing loss in the Western Conference Finals, some major roster changes must be made. Although many of the Rockets’ key players, such as Dwight Howard, Terrence Jones, and Patrick Beverley, were injured for much of the regular season, it is obvious that the Rockets could and should have rotated their big and versatile roster onto the game floor.
Many talented players were virtually untouched this season, ranging from Kostas Papanikolaou to K.J. McDaniels. Many of these players sat on the bench much of the season, and fans are eager to see whether these players will make a difference in the playoffs next year.
With many players such as LaMarcus Aldridge and Kevin Love potentially becoming available this offseason, the clear choice is to cut/trade some players to make cap space, and attempt to attract these top free agents who will most definitely make a difference for the Rockets next season.
My top picks who should be gone from the Rockets roster this offseason are Kostas Papanikolaou and Terrence Jones. Although both are extremely solid players, they have not shown up in the playoffs.
Jones had a great finish to the regular season, but has performed rather poorly in the postseason. Although Papanikolaou has shown potential and heart in the Rockets offense, Coach Kevin McHale seems hesitant to give him big action, even during regular season games. These poor performances by the two make them big candidates for trade negotiations or they may simply get cut by the team.
Of course, poor performances by great players also played a role in the Rockets not advancing as far into the playoffs as I thought they might. Dwight Howard shot a career low 34% when posting up, and had some off nights, as evidenced by some vital games during the playoffs. Dwight got paid $22.36 million just this year. To put that into perspective, James Harden only got paid $14.73 million this year and had a far more productive season. With monster contracts like these, we would need to cut some lower paid and less productive players for cap space to sign some of the biggest free agents this offseason.
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Much of the Rockets roster is composed of much lower paid players, including Josh Smith, who earned just over $2 million for this season and Patrick Beverley, who earned less than a million. Corey Brewer can’t be ignored as well, who came in clutch alongside Josh Smith to rally against the Clippers in Game 6. These Rockets provide the heart of the team, and may wish for an increase in salary. To do so, less productive players would either need to be cut from the team or traded.
The Rockets are a promising team, and they will only get better. If they make the correct offseason changes, there should be no doubt that they will be the 2016 NBA Champions.
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