July 19, 2015 at 7:35 pm

Rockets acquire their second playmaker, land Ty Lawson from Nuggets

ty-lawson-houston-rockets

It happened — the Rockets finally made a big move this summer.

The Rockets landed a big playmaker Sunday night, acquiring Ty Lawson from the Denver Nuggets, as first reported by Yahoo! Sports. In exchange, the Rockets will send Kostas Papanikolaou, Pablo Prigioni, Joey Dorsey, Nick Johnson and a protected first-round pick in 2016.

On the offensive side of the floor, the Rockets get a big boost here. Lawson has been declining as a three-point shooter, but he’s a terrific penetrator and playmaker, averaging 9.6 assists a night last season for the Nuggets (third overall in the NBA, trailing only Chris Paul and John Wall). Defense is not his strong suit, but this is a guy who can make things happen and an attacker that defenses will have to contain — all things the Rockets lacked outside of James Harden.

As for what the Rockets gave up, this is a steal. Robbery. The Rockets needed to create roster spots, which they do here, and they gave up very little of value. The only real loss at all is the first rounder, and that appears to be protected. They even managed to keep Terrence Jones, who most felt would need to be in this type of a deal.

How did the Rockets acquire such a player for so little? Well, that’s the risk here. Lawson has been busted for two DUIs this year alone and clearly has a problem. He entered alcohol rehab last week. This is something the Rockets will have to be careful with — and the NBA may want to suspend him some games as well. The Nuggets clearly wanted to rid themselves of him, getting the two years and $25+ million remaining on his contract off their books.

On the floor, the Rockets now look strong at point guard, coming at you with a terrific offensive option in Lawson and a strong defensive option in Patrick Beverley. What was a weakness now may be a strength.

The roster spots are also important. The Rockets may now be able to keep a guy like Alan Williams, an undrafted rookie center who impressed in Summer League, now that they’ve unloaded Dorsey and his guaranteed deal.

Posted in Houston Rockets |
July 19, 2015 at 12:42 pm

Rockets bring back K.J. McDaniels on a three-year deal

K.J. McDaniels Houston Rockets

The Rockets can finally start making some moves.

The team has signed second-year forward K.J. McDaniels to a three-year, $10 million deal. McDaniels confirmed on Twitter that he’s back with Houston.

The Rockets were waiting on McDaniels, a restricted free agent, before spending any of their mid-level exception, a decision that may or may not have played a role in costing them Josh Smith.

Signing McDaniels directly also helps the Rockets. Had McDaniels signed an offer sheet and the Rockets matched, they would not have been able to trade him without his consent for a year. Going this route, McDaniels is more valuable as a trade asset to the Rockets.

That may be significant considering how McDaniels didn’t play much at all for the Rockets last season and, on paper, he would seem to be behind even another three in rookie Sam Dekker. McDaniels showed some real value in Philly last season as he has some insane athleticism and defensive potential, but needs to work on his shooting (28.7% from three last year).

Look for the Rockets to sign rookie power forward Montrezl Harrell, who looked good in Summer League, soon.

Posted in Houston Rockets |
July 16, 2015 at 3:34 pm

Josh Smith not returning to Rockets, will sign with Clippers

Josh Smith Rockets Clippers

Josh Smith has agreed to join the Los Angeles Clippers, according to multiple reports, taking less money to go there than we expected the Rockets to offer (non-Bird salary of $2.5M).

It’s a double whammy for the Rockets. They lose a talented big and he goes to a West contender desperate for bench help.

This is honestly surprising to me. I know Smith was frustrated with the Rockets and their handling of the MLE (first offered to Sergio Llull, now in limbo waiting for KJ McDaniels), but I heard many times that Smith wanted to be here, that he was close with Dwight Howard, James Harden and Corey Brewer and that he thought highly of Coach McHale. It wasn’t a significant amount of money, but he did take less to join Los Angeles, making us wonder how much interest the Rockets really had at all to bring Smith back.

Ironically, it was Smith who buried the Clippers last season, fueling an insane fourth quarter comeback in Game 6 that changed the series.

It’s still early, but this has not been a brilliant summer so far for Houston. They have mainly made auto-pilot moves, making their selections in the draft and bringing back Patrick Beverley and Corey Brewer. We certainly don’t need to remind any of the diehards that there is indeed a gap between the Rockets and the Warriors, and other West teams (such as San Antonio) have made strong moves this summer as well.

We’ll see what the mid-level exception brings the Rockets, but we’re still waiting for them to make some kind of upgrade.

Posted in Houston Rockets |
July 12, 2015 at 12:25 pm

Rockets sign guard Marcus Thornton

Marcus Thornton Houston Rockets

The Rockets finally added someone new to the team on Sunday, signing shooting guard Marcus Thornton to a one-year deal at the veteran minimum.

The 28-year old guard (more or less) confirmed the move on Twitter.

Thornton, a 6-foot-4 scoring guard, has bounced around the league but he can put up points — he once averaged 18.7 points per game in 2011-12. He put up 42 points in a game just a year and a half ago.

For his career, he shoots a hair under 43% from the field and 36.2% from deep. In 39 games with Boston last year, he connected on 41.9% from downtown (52-124).

There’s really nothing here to dislike. The Rockets desperately need some scoring punch off the bench and they potentially get that here with a cheap addition in Thornton. At the veteran minimum, there is absolutely no risk with the move and only potential reward.

Posted in Houston Rockets |
July 3, 2015 at 5:36 pm

Wolverine is back: Patrick Beverley re-signs with Rockets

Patrick Beverley Houston Rockets

The Rockets are keeping the band together.

After agreeing to terms with Corey Brewer on a three-year deal, the Rockets re-signed point guard Patrick Beverley to a four-year, $24 million deal on Friday.

The deal is for three years guaranteed at $18 million with the fourth year non-guaranteed.

Beverley tweeted that he’s “glad to be back.”

For the Rockets, it again looks like a good deal, getting Bev for around $6M per and syncing the guaranteed portion of the contract with Brewer’s, perhaps preparing for a free agent class in 2018.

Beverley, when healthy, is a terrific on-ball defender at the point guard spot, something the Rockets sorely lacked in the Warriors series. Keeping Beverley became even more important after the Rockets couldn’t convince Sergio Llull to come over from Spain.

Posted in Houston Rockets |
July 3, 2015 at 4:21 pm

Corey Brewer re-signs with the Rockets on a three-year deal

Corey Brewer celebrates

While the Rockets have been waiting on LaMarcus Aldridge’s decision before making moves, they took care of some important business on Friday.

Yahoo! Sports reports that the Rockets and Corey Brewer have agreed on a three-year, $24 million deal that keeps the small forward in Houston.

“I’m happy to be back,” Brewer told Mark Berman of Fox 26. “It’s the best place for me to have a chance to win a title.”

It’s a big move for the Rockets, especially considering how NBA salaries are again spiraling out of control this signing period.

The Rockets may only have a small chance of landing Aldridge, but if they do get so lucky, they almost certainly will have to move Trevor Ariza in a deal, making keeping Brewer even more important.

But regardless, Ariza and Brewer made life difficult for opponents last season by aggressively playing the passing lanes and that looks like it will continue to be a strength for this team.

Posted in Houston Rockets |
June 25, 2015 at 9:24 pm

Rockets draft power forward Montrezl Harrell in the second round

Montrezl Harrell Houston Rockets

Point guard… who needs a point guard?

The Rockets did not stray from their “Best Player Available” philosophy Thursday night. After drafting Wisconsin small forward Sam Dekker in the first round, the Rockets took power forward Montrezl Harrell out of Louisville in the second round with pick #32.

This is a throwback Morey pick, reminding you of when the Rockets drafted shorter bigs like Carl Landry and Joey Dorsey. Harrell is undersized, measuring just 6’7″ without shoes, but he’s got an excellent wingspan at 7’4″.

He averaged 15.7 points on 56.6% shooting and 9.2 rebounds as a junior. He is HIGH energy — he runs the floor and throws down a lot of dunks. Defensively, Harrell can be very good and like a Kenneth Faried, he has a terrific motor and attacks the glass.

As for free throw shooting, he’ll fit right in — he shot just over 53% from the stripe in three years at Louisville. His preference for wearing headbands probably didn’t hurt the fit either.

But I feel strongly that this team needs a solid defensive option at the four. I don’t know if Harrell will be that at this level, but I like the roll of the dice here. Considering the Rockets got this draft pick by simply facilitating a Marcus Camby sign-and-trade three years ago, I love this selection.

You can see where both Dekker and Harrell fit a common theme here for the Rockets: This team wants to attack and run.

Montrezl Harrell Highlights

Posted in Houston Rockets |
June 25, 2015 at 7:50 pm

Rockets take Sam Dekker with the 18th pick

Sam Dekker Houston Rockets

The Houston Rockets stayed at pick 18 in the 2015 NBA Draft on Thursday, selecting Wisconsin junior small forward Sam Dekker.

The newest Rocket was excited to be coming to Houston.

“It’s a perfect fit for me,”said Dekker. “I’m a guy that loves to get up and go. I love to run the court, play above the rim, shoot from the outside and just attack, putting the defense on its heels. That’s what the Houston Rockets love to do and that’s what I love to do as well. I think I’ll fit in very easily.”

Dekker is an interesting pick. If you listened to our recent podcast, you know David Weiner liked him for the Rockets. He has drawn some Chandler Parsons comparisons. I personally preferred Bobby Portis, who ended up going 22nd overall to Chicago, but I can definitely see how Dekker can help the Rockets.

Dekker helped lead Wisconsin to the National Championship game against Duke as a junior, averaging 13.9 points on 52.5% shooting to go with 5.5 rebounds. Like Parsons, he’s a big wing. He measured in at a hair under 6’8″ without shoes and has a wingspan at 6’11.5″ (for comparison, Parsons was 6’8.75″ tall without shoes and 6’9.5″ on wingspan). He’s got a good NBA body, athleticism, can post up and is versatile — he can do a little bit of everything. Many think he can excel on an up-tempo team.

He’s looking forward to playing with James Harden and Dwight Howard.

“I don’t know who wouldn’t be excited to play with them,” said Dekker. “There’s nothing more you can ask for than to play with great players … If I get in the paint, I can throw it up and Dwight Howard will go get it.”

Dekker does have some work to do, however. He struggled with his shot, hitting just 33.1% from deep as a junior, and that will have to to improve on this team.

But overall it looks like a good value pick and it will be amusing to see if the Rockets added a Parsons clone on a rookie contract.

Sam Dekker Highlights

Posted in Houston Rockets, NBA Draft |