May 10, 2016 at 1:27 pm

Houston Rockets Salary Cap Update: 2016 Offseason Pre-Draft Edition

Houston Rockets owner Leslie Alexander

One year ago at this time, the Houston Rockets were battling through the Western Conference on their way to a conference finals series against Golden State.

Man, how things can change in one year.

Last summer, the Rockets had grand designs of building a championship-contending roster much better than the team that had just lost to the Warriors, who were clearly better than Houston. They were going to get back a (presumably) healthy Donatas Motiejunas. They re-signed both Patrick Beverley (a key piece missing from their playoff run) and Corey Brewer (an integral part of that playoff run). The Rockets even had a potential sign-and-trade deal lined up to acquire free agent LaMarcus Aldridge from Portland, but Aldridge ultimately chose to sign with San Antonio.

Fast forward about a year, and the Rockets look like a team in turmoil. Head coach Kevin McHale was fired just eleven games into his three-year contract extension. His replacement, interim coach J.B. Bickerstaff, did not fare much better, “leading” the team to a mediocre 37-34 record. James Harden and Dwight Howard could not get along and never truly meshed on the court. Brewer and Terrence Jones had utterly disappointing seasons. Motiejunas’s back injury lingered longer than expected, hampering his development. Even a February trade deadline deal of Motiejunas for a first round pick was voided after Motiejunas “failed” his physical in Detroit. As for the Rockets’ own first round pick, … more on that below.

The 2015-16 Houston Rockets season may go down as among the most disappointing, aggravating and just plain awful seasons in Houston sports history. For us diehard Rockets fans, this season felt like a long series of gut-punches. While getting a lone playoff victory over Golden State was nice and all, many felt that Houston’s elimination from the playoffs (4-1) was like a mercy killing.

With the season now ended, it’s time to once again take a look at the team’s salary cap situation and where the Rockets can go from here.

Player Salary, Exceptions and Available Cap Room

The Houston Rockets currently have the following player salary commitments, cap holds and salary cap exceptions available for the 2016-17 season:

Player salary commitments: Howard ($23.28 million – player option), Harden ($16.78 million), Trevor Ariza ($7.81 million), Brewer ($7.61 million), Beverley ($6.0 million), K.J. McDaniels ($3.33 million), Sam Dekker ($1.72 million), Clint Capela ($1.30 million), Montrezl Harrell ($1.05 million), Michael Beasley ($1.40 million – non-guaranteed), and Andrew Goudelock ($1.02 million, non-guaranteed).

Cap holds: Jones ($6.22 million – Rockets hold full Bird rights), Motiejunas ($5.72 million – Rockets hold full Bird rights), Jason Terry ($980,431 – Rockets hold full Bird rights), and Josh Smith ($980,431 – Rockets have only Non-Bird rights).

Other Salary Cap Exceptions: If Houston operates over the salary cap this summer (an unlikely scenario but at least possible if Howard opts in to his contract), the Rockets will have access to the Mid-Level Exception (MLE), either the Non-Taxpayer variety ($5.628 million, the use of which would impose a hard cap at the “apron” level – currently projected at $112 million) or the Taxpayer variety ($3.477 million), as well as to the Bi-Annual Exception ($2.203 million). In the much more likely event that the Rockets use their available cap room this summer, they could instead have the Room Exception of $2.898 million at their disposal.

Given these salary commitments and exceptions, and based on the currently projected 2016-17 salary cap of $92.0 million, the most cap room the Rockets could create (barring trades … yeah, I know) is about $44.22 million. This assumes that Howard opts out of his contract and would involve renouncing rights to all free agents and waiving Beasley and Goudelock. If Howard opts in, that figure drops precipitously to $21.49 million. However, expect Howard to opt out and for the Rockets to hold onto Beasley and at least attempt to hold onto Motiejunas. So, adding their salaries/cap holds, that cap room figure comes out to about $38.19 million. Regardless, expect the Rockets to explore trades that could open up additional room.

So… What Happens Next?

As the Rockets prepare for the NBA Draft and the subsequent free agent season, there will be some internal maneuvering for GM Daryl Morey and his staff to do.

Most immediately, the Rockets need to hire a new head coach. With several prominent names still in contention (among them, Jeff Van Gundy, Frank Vogel and David Blatt), Houston is casting a wide net in their coaching search. This approach should benefit the franchise in gaining as much outside knowledge as it can while also establishing favorable long-term relationships around the basketball world. There is some thought that the Rockets might hold off signing a new head coach until after free agency begins, in order to allow a marquee free agent like Kevin Durant to join with Harden in hand-picking his own coach. But the likelier scenario is that the Rockets – perhaps with some input from Harden – hire “their guy” without putting that decision squarely in the hands of its prospective star players.

Kevin Durant Houston Rockets

Houston’s Plan A is to pursue Kevin Durant

Houston will need to decide whether to extend qualifying offers to Motiejunas ($4.43 million, more than he’d otherwise receive based on his prior salary due to meeting the “starter criteria” of starting 82 games over the course of the past two seasons) and to Jones ($3.53 million) in order to make them both restricted free agents and to give the Rockets the ability to match any offers from other teams. More on those decisions below.

In preparation for the eventuality that their pursuit of big name free agents to fill all of their cap room doesn’t play out as hoped for, the Rockets may also once again explore the possibility of bringing over one or more of its “draft rights held” players from overseas, led by everyone’s favorite tease, 2009 second round pick Sergio Llull. Houston’s courtship of the now 28-year old Llull (a 6-3 combo guard who has developed into one of the top guards in Europe) fell apart last summer, and Llull ended up signing a long-term contract extension with Real Madrid. However, reports are that the extension actually lowered Llull’s NBA buyout, thus far one of the biggest impediments to his NBA debut. After years of flirtation, most Rockets fans won’t be holding their breath for a Llull signing. But in a summer where free agent deals will hit astounding levels, having exclusive NBA rights to a player of Llull’s caliber may be helpful, either to sign him outright or as a trade asset.

Another international prospect who might help next season is Alessandro Gentile, a 6-7 scoring wing taken with a 2014 second rounder purchased by Houston. But with Ariza, Brewer, McDaniels and Dekker all under contract for next season, it is hard to see a role for Gentile without one or more trades clearing the Rockets’ glut at small forward.

Draft Day Maneuvering

The Rockets will enter the 2016 NBA Draft armed with the 37th and 43rd picks, about $2.96 million in remaining cash to spend before July 1, as well as an assortment of young players, draft rights and future picks to trade. However, unlike in years past, the prospects for a significant draft night trade – something that the Rockets are known to actively seek – will be fairly low.

Because Houston remains subject to a hard cap through June 30, the Rockets cannot exceed the 2015-16 “apron” level as a result of any draft night trade. With the Rockets a mere $242,000 or so shy of the apron, unless a trade involves Houston dumping salary, most trades will be prohibited. Of course, a trade could be agreed to in principle, with the actual consummation of that trade not going through until following the July Moratorium.

Houston will be without its own first round pick (15th overall), which was sent to Denver in the Ty Lawson trade. The protections on that pick were unique in that the top-14 protected first rounder in 2016 immediately converted to a 2017 second round pick if the Rockets missed the playoffs, rather than the more common carryover of owing a future first round pick (a restriction that often has lingering negative effects on a team’s ability to trade future draft picks). So while the Rockets could have kept a pick in the 12-14 range had they missed the playoffs in the last week of the season (owing only Portland’s second rounder next season), they instead convey their pick and move on.

As for the draft slots Houston currently holds, the Rockets could go in a number of directions. They could elect to use both picks on players to add to their roster for next season, as second round picks count $0 against the cap until signed, and there is expected to be a lot of roster turnover this summer anyway. They could instead use one (or both) of those picks on an international draft prospect, as this year’s draft is expected to have one of the deepest international crops in recent memory. The Rockets could also look to move up in the draft – something they often try to do – although don’t expect a package of #37 and #43 to move them too far up the draft board (last year, Minnesota traded the 31st and 36th picks to move up to pick #24).

Also, don’t be surprised to see Rockets owner Leslie Alexander once again allow Morey to spend his remaining cash allotment this season on an additional second round pick to stash overseas (as the team has done in recent years with Furkan Aldemir and Gentile). With several teams holding multiple picks in this year’s draft (led by Boston, with an astounding eight picks), the odds of multiple second round picks switching hands on draft night is fairly high.

Internal Free Agent Decisions

The Rockets have several key decisions to make regarding their own free agents that could impact what they do in free agency.

Dwight Howard: The first domino that must fall for the Rockets to execute any big summer plans is Dwight’s decision of whether or not to opt out of his contract. His $23.28 million player option year is likely more than he will get on an annual basis as a free agent. But Howard will turn 31 years old in December and will likely want to lock in a longer-term deal before his skills decline much further. There is also the possibility that at least one team (among the many expected to be flush with cap room and have no one else to spend it on) will offer Howard a huge contract paying him as much as $25-30 million per season. However, don’t expect the Rockets to be one of those teams. While the door cannot be completely closed to the possibility of Howard’s return to Houston on a more reasonable multi-year deal, it is becoming increasingly more evident that if (or when) Dwight opts out of his contract, he will be moving on to another team.

Terrence Jones Houston Rockets Free Agent

Terrence Jones likely lost millions after a disappointing 2015-16 season

Terrence Jones: Few players did more to hurt their free agent stock than Jones this past season. Once thought by many to be lining up for a huge contract (Zach Lowe wondered whether Jones could possibly get offers in the $15 million per year range!), Jones suffered through a disappointing season filled with poor defensive focus and more strange injuries. He ended the season as the fifth power forward on the depth chart. Although Jones will have a cap hold this summer of $6.22 million, the Rockets will need to extend him a one-year, $3.53 million qualifying offer in order to make him a restricted free agent. The extension of such a qualifying offer once looked like a no-brainer but is now seriously in question. It will be a surprise at this point if Jones is a Rocket next season.

Donatas Motiejunas: Motiejunas represents a very interesting case for the Rockets. At 7-0 with both post skills and three-point range (a combination held by only a handful of NBA players), D-Mo will undoubtedly have his share of suitors in free agency. But his back injury has turned out to be a more serious red flag than many anticipated. Detroit – once thought to be the Rockets’ biggest competitor for Motiejunas this summer – voided its trade for D-Mo after its doctors expressed reservations about the long-term prognosis for that back. Motiejunas came away from that experience with a resentment for Detroit, so there may not be a future for that relationship. Although D-Mo will have a cap hold this summer of $5.72 million, the Rockets will need to extend him a one-year, $4.43 million qualifying offer in order to make him a restricted free agent. Expect the Rockets to extend that qualifying offer and to hope they can execute other moves in free agency before having to worry about matching an offer sheet for him.

Jason Terry: Despite some purported interest in a coaching gig, Terry recently expressed a desire to play another year or two before retiring. As one of the few stable veteran voices for the Rockets last season, it is scary to consider how awful Houston’s locker room would have been without him. And while his production on the court wasn’t too far from that of the prior season (his shooting percentages dipped a little and his defense was once again atrocious), it may be time for the Rockets to part ways with the venerable Terry.

Josh Smith: After spurning the Rockets (and their larger contract offer) for a veteran’s minimum deal with the Clippers, it was all downhill for Smith. The Clippers ended up paying Houston to take Smith off their hands. A solid defender and gifted passer, Smith still showed enough to get a couple of chances in the Rockets’ lackluster power forward rotation. But with several power forwards under contract for next season, don’t expect to see Smith back.

Michael Beasley: Beasley was one of the few pleasant surprises for the Rockets this past season. After an MVP season in China, Beasley came in and immediately became Houston’s second-best offensive weapon. He fulfilled his role as a bench chucker, pouring in several long two-point shots that only Harden seemed permitted to take, as those two were likely the only two players on the roster capable of shooting a high enough percentage of them to make that shot worthwhile. Beasley has a non-guaranteed salary of $1.40 million for next year (which becomes guaranteed if he is not waived by August 1). Especially since Beasley could easily get an MLE-sized deal (or more) in free agency, expect Houston to hold on to him, either as an offensive weapon off the bench next season or as a trade chip this summer.

Andrew Goudelock: Goudelock was brought in to replace Ty Lawson and Marcus Thornton as a backcourt scorer off the bench. However, as a late-season addition, Bickerstaff never showed enough trust in Goudelock to play him over Terry. His situation became even more odd during the playoffs, when Bickerstaff elected to make Jones (a fifth power forward) active over Goudelock (a third point guard and just the fourth “true” guard on the Rockets’ roster) for Games 2, 3 and 4 against a Golden State team with plenty of backcourt depth. With Bickerstaff out, it is possible that Morey likes Goudelock enough to keep him around for next season on a $1.02 million non-guaranteed deal (which becomes guaranteed if he is not waived by August 1). But if the Rockets need the extra $472,000 or so in additional cap room that can be created by waiving Goudelock, they probably won’t lose too much sleep over waiving him. If no one claims him off waivers, the Rockets can still re-sign him to a vet minimum deal.

#Pursuit of Outside Free Agents

At the center of the Rockets’ plans to return to NBA prominence is the pursuit of one or (more likely) two star free agents.

The headliner of the 2016 crop of free agents is Durant. (With Lebron James most likely staying put in Cleveland, we’ll exclude him from this group for all intents and purposes.) Durant’s free agency has been talked about for years, with rumors of his possible interest in playing with Harden in Houston circulating as long ago as 2013. While it is a long shot that Durant will actually elect to sign with the Rockets, his talent is prodigious enough that pursuing him as Plan A is still worth it.

Hassan Whiteside Houston Rockets

Hassan Whiteside could be a free agent that the Rockets pursue

Another free agent who could be high on the Rockets’ wish list is Al Horford. Capable of playing power forward or center, Horford would be a suitable replacement for Howard. Horford’s combination of long-range shooting (he can hit long two-point shots at a clip high enough to get them in the Rockets’ offense) and all-around good defense make him an intriguing possibility.

As nine-year veterans, Durant and Horford will each be eligible for a max starting salary worth a little over $25 million (with an actual max figure to be determined during the July Moratorium). One complication to signing either to a long-term contract is that each becomes entitled to a much higher starting salary in 2017, when they become ten-year veterans assigned a larger percentage of the salary cap as their max salary. While Horford may take the long-term security of a deal this summer, many believe Durant will seek a two-year deal (with a player option on Year 2) similar to the deals Lebron has signed with Cleveland each of the last two summers in order to cash in next summer.

A slightly more “affordable” Howard replacement (as in a starting salary of closer to $20 million) could be Hassan Whiteside. A talented center who squandered the first several years of his professional career underachieving compared to his tremendous natural talent, there is some concern that Whiteside will revert to his old ways once he secures a lucrative long-term deal. But as a premier rim protector, Whiteside could be worth the gamble.

Paying Kevin Durant

Most expect Durant to re-sign with Oklahoma City this summer. With Russell Westbrook and Serge Ibaka, the Thunder provide Durant with a competitive enough roster to justify his staying put. But re-signing with Oklahoma City does not necessarily guarantee Durant the most long-term salary.

The jump in the salary cap (and, by extension, the max salary) this summer means that any team with enough cap room can offer Durant a starting salary equal to what the Thunder can offer. And with another huge jump in the cap expected next summer, a team like the Rockets could conceivably use newly available cap room to re-sign Durant next summer to a long-term deal as lucrative as anything Oklahoma City could give him.

Conclusion

After a miserable season, the Rockets must now turn their attention to repairing their roster – as well as their basketball culture – via the draft, trades and free agency. Morey and [whoever the next head coach is] will need to come up with a variety of alternative plans to return the Rockets to respectability, let alone title contention. It remains to be seen whether Plan A (where Durant comes to save the franchise), Plan [X] (another rebuild) or any plan in between ends up being the path they take.

Posted in Houston Rockets, Salary Cap Update |
April 26, 2016 at 9:53 pm

Charles Barkley apologizes to the Houston Rockets

Charles Barkley apologizes to the Houston Rockets

Someone must have sent a powerful message to TNT because Charles Barkley has just done something he hasn’t done in a long time — play nice with the Houston Rockets.

Barkley apologized to the Rockets Tuesday night, saying he “overreacted” to two tweets that were made by Rockets CEO Tad Brown and GM Daryl Morey.

“I want to apologize to the Houston Rockets,” said Barkley. “I overreacted, said something I shouldn’t have said. I want to apologize to Daryl Morey, Tad Brown and Les Alexander.”

“When you’re on television, it should never be personal,” added Barkley. “We’re supposed to do our job. When Daryl Morey said that, I got mad and was 100% wrong. When Tad Brown tweeted last week, I was 100% wrong. Les Alexander treated me great when I was in Houston. I want to apologize to those three guys.”

Barkley had called Brown “Toad Smith” after his tweet that blasted Barkley and referred to Morey as “Daryl Moronic”. See the video below (starting at the 0:45 mark).

It’s no secret that Barkley has held a grudge against the Rockets, claiming they still owe him $3 million from his playing days in Houston, and it has skewed his commentary about the team. Barkley has blasted the Rockets at every turn for years, including during their Western Conference Finals run of 2014-15.

Posted in Houston Rockets |
April 26, 2016 at 11:36 am

Houston Rockets 2016 NBA Playoffs Intro Video

Houston Rockets 2016 Playoff Intro Video

If you missed the Houston Rockets playoff introduction video this year, here it is.

The intro isn’t quite as unique as it has been in other years — frankly, that’s likely a result of not getting into the playoffs until the final day — but it still creates a powerful effect. The Rockets used audio from the Star Wars: Rogue One teaser trailer, mixing in words from Forest Whitaker that now seem fitting with Houston down 3-1 in the series at the moment:

What will you do when they catch you? What will you do if they break you? If you continue to fight, what will you become?

Posted in Houston Rockets |
April 25, 2016 at 8:25 am

Podcast: Opportunity lost, backs to the wall and the future of the Rockets

James Harden Golden State Warriors Houston Rockets playoffs

MK Bower joins Dave Hardisty at the Toyota Center after the Rockets fell 121-94 at home in Game 4 of their first round playoff series with the Golden State Warriors, falling behind 3-1 in the series. The two discuss the ups and downs of Game 4, Stephen Curry’s injury, the differences between the two teams, what positives have come out of the series that made it worth the draft pick sacrifice and the future of the Houston Rockets.

Posted in Houston Rockets, Podcasts |
April 17, 2016 at 11:31 am

How Golden State gets so wide open

Golden State Warriors Illegal Screens

The Golden State Warriors are an awesome team, a better team than the Rockets. In no way, shape or form am I saying that officiating is the difference between these two teams.

But if there’s one thing that must come out of this series, it’s that the spotlight needs to be placed squarely on how Golden State gets away with absolute murder on illegal screens. This was never more evident than in Game 1 when Andrew Bogut was getting away with football drills while the Rockets were being whistled for any screen at all. We saw it last year in the Western Conference Finals and it’s rearing its ugly head in this series as well.

We are posting just a few examples, but take a look at how Draymond Green and Bogut free Golden State’s elite shooters by setting illegal picks. In Green’s case, he literally drives, pushes, and in some cases, tackles the defender. Bogut tries to be more discreet but is no less obvious, holding the defender and sliding with their movement. He doesn’t set his feet and tries to make the movement look like it has been initiated by the defender, buying more time for the shooter.

There are four illegal screens set by Bogut last night in this video — three of them resulted in Stephen Curry three-pointers.

The question is: Why does the NBA consistently allow this and when will they start to pay attention to it?

Posted in Houston Rockets |
April 14, 2016 at 2:33 am

Podcast: Rockets pass on NBA Draft for rematch with Warriors

James Harden

MK Bower joins Dave Hardisty at the Toyota Center after the Rockets beat the Sacramento Kings minor league squad 116-81, clinching the 8th seed and a first round date with the 73-win Golden State Warriors. The two debate the interesting dilemma created by the Ty Lawson trade — whether it was smarter for the Rockets to miss the playoffs to keep their draft pick — and talk about the rematch of last year’s Western Conference Finals.

Posted in Houston Rockets, Podcasts |
March 15, 2016 at 10:08 am

Houston Rockets Salary Cap Update: Post-Trade Deadline Moves

michael-beasley-andrew-goudelock

It’s been awhile since my last cap update, and the Houston Rockets find themselves in quite different territory than they did last July.  Having put together what many thought to be a legitimate title contender, the Rockets viewed themselves as building upon a run to the Western Conference Finals last season.

Fast forward to now, and Houston is instead scrapping for the 6-seed in a Western Conference that features two teams — the Golden State Warriors and the San Antonio Spurs — having among the greatest regular seasons ever.  Almost everything that could have gone wrong for the Rockets has.  Ty Lawson, their major off-season acquisition, was a disaster on the court.  Their first round pick (Sam Dekker) missed most of the season with a back injury.  Even their trade deadline deal of Donatas Motiejunas and Marcus Thornton to the Pistons (for a mid-first round draft pick and millions in luxury tax savings) blew up in their faces when Detroit voided the trade due to concerns with Motiejunas’s back.  Motiejunas — who the Rockets and most of their fanbase still really like — has played subpar basketball since returning from injury while trying to round himself back into form.

Since the Motiejunas trade was voided, the Rockets made a series of roster moves.  The following is an explanation of each of those moves, from both a basketball and a salary cap standpoint.

Waiver of Marcus Thornton

Dumping a guy for nothing who was scoring ten points per game in limited action seemed like a fairly pointless act, but the situation between Thornton and the Rockets may have turned acrimonious following the voided trade.  Also, Houston may have wanted to make better use of his roster spot.  While Thornton probably could have helped the Rockets during the playoffs in spot minutes, he was unlikely to return next season.

Many (including me) believed Houston had a plan in place for a team like the Sixers to claim Thornton off waivers, which would have saved the Rockets around $1.7 million in salary and luxury tax while also helping the Sixers meet the salary floor before the end of the regular season.  Unfortunately (and surprisingly), no team claimed Thornton’s one-year vet minimum contract off waivers, leaving the Rockets to foot the bill for the remainder of his salary and a heftier tax bill.

Buyout of Ty Lawson

Putting a thoroughly unsuccessful marriage out of its misery, Houston bought out Lawson, releasing the point guard to catch on with another playoff team in exchange for Lawson leaving another $225,000 on the table (in addition to his entire 2016-17 salary, which he previously made non-guaranteed in order to facilitate his trade to Houston).

While Lawson’s non-guaranteed contract still held some value as a pre-draft trade chip, it is unlikely that the Rockets would have actually used it in lieu of chasing the top free agents this summer with the additional cap room created by waiving Lawson this June.

The Lawson trade was still a move a team like the Rockets probably makes nine times out of ten, especially given all of the downside protection involved, as more particularly described in my last cap update.  Sadly, like many things for the Rockets this season, it just didn’t work out.

Signing of Michael Beasley

With the Rockets in desperate need of bench scoring, they turned to the Chinese Basketball Association (CBA) and signed its MVP, former No. 2 overall pick Michael Beasley to a two-year vet minimum deal.  His salary for next season (approximately $1.4 million) is non-guaranteed if Beasley is waived by August 1.

Although Beasley has had a reputation as a knucklehead of sorts in the past, the Rockets (according to GM Daryl Morey) had solid intel that he now has his priorities in order and is ready to be a meaningful contributor to a good NBA team.

Thus far, Beasley is showing that he can score in bunches and, uh, . . . is not shy about taking shots.  Through five games with the Rockets, he is averaging 10.8 points on 8.8 field goal attempts in just 14.2 minutes per game. Before last night’s extended playing time against the Grizzlies (and some purposely passive play in garbage time as the deep bench was able to get in on the scoring act), Beasley was averaging a whopping NINE field goal attempts in just 10.8 minutes per game!

With both Terrence Jones and Motiejunas heading towards restricted free agency, and with unrestricted free agent Josh Smith unlikely to return, the Rockets needed to add another power forward option to Montrezl Harrell.  Getting Beasley on a cheap non-guaranteed deal represents good value for a Rockets team trying to maximize its cap space to make a run at adding up to two max free agents.

Signing of Andrew Goudelock

Following the losses of Lawson and Thornton, the Rockets bolstered their backcourt depth by signing another MVP, former D-League and Eurocup MVP Andrew Goudelock, to a two -year vet minimum deal, similar to the one signed by Beasley.  Goudelock’s salary for next season (just over $1 million) is non-guaranteed if Goudelock is waived by August 1.

At 6-3, Goudelock is a combo guard with a knack for scoring.  With 38-year-old Jason Terry currently filling that role in the Rockets’ rotation, the team needed another (younger) guard.

In his first extended action as a Rocket, last night against the Grizzlies, Goudelock displayed his scoring touch, putting up 11 points in 17 minutes, albeit at the end of a blowout win.

Neither Lawson (whose $13.2 million cap figure was far too rich) nor Thornton (whose relationship with the team had run its course) were going to be back next season.  With James Harden and Patrick Beverley as the only true guards under contract for next season (and, no, I am not counting wing players like Corey Brewer or K.J. McDaniels as “guards” for this purpose), Houston wanted to add another cheap option.

Conclusion

The voided Motiejunas trade left the Houston Rockets hopelessly unable to drop below the luxury tax threshold.  That, combined with the team’s largely ineffective bench corps, led Morey and his crew to adjust the roster in order both to boost bench scoring this season and to provide additional affordable players to fill its many open roster spots next season.

Here’s hoping these moves actually work out.

Posted in Houston Rockets |
March 2, 2016 at 4:57 pm

Rockets set to sign Michael Beasley

michael-beasley-rockets

Andrew Goudelock was understandable. This one was a little more surprising.

The Rockets are set to sign former 2nd overall pick Michael Beasley, according to an ESPN report. Beasley will sign for the remainder of the season with the Rockets holding a team option for next year.

The 6-foot-9 power forward was recently named the MVP of the Chinese League, averaging 31.9 points, 13.2 rebounds, 3.8 assists and 1.3 blocks a night.

The Rockets would not comment on the additions since they are not finalized, but coach J.B. Bickerstaff said what the team is looking for.

“We’re looking to improve the team,” said Bickerstaff. “We’re looking for guys who have talent. We’re looking for guys who can be versatile, can playmake, score, rebound… help us in those types of situations. Those are the types of guys we’re searching for.”

The Rockets desperately need help at the power forward spot, despite having plenty of guys on the roster at the position, but Beasley has struggled to find his niche in the NBA. An All-World scorer in college, Beasley went number two overall to the Miami Heat in the 2008 Draft after averaging 26.2 points, 12.4 rebounds and hitting 37.9% from three his one season at Kansas State.

Beasley is talented, but has run into trouble during his career. In 2013, he was arrested on suspicion of marijuana possession. A sexual assault case against him in 2014 was eventually dropped.

Defense is not his strong suit at all, so he’ll fit right in. What is interesting about Beasley is he can score and has shown improved range, both qualities that the Rockets lack at the position right now. He shot just 34.3% from deep over his seven-year NBA career with Miami, Minnesota and Phoenix, but he has shown increased efficiency from three in China (as to be expected). Beasley scored 34 points in a game late last season while with the Heat.

Here’s a highlight video of a 48-point night in China, showing his play and the kind of competition he faced.

At this point, what can it hurt? The Rockets have had poor chemistry on the floor this season and it can’t get too much worse. In this move, they get a cheap look at whether or not Beasley can help them moving forward at a position that has killed them all season.

Posted in Houston Rockets |