The Houston Rockets have been a major disappointment this year. After reaching the conference finals and bringing back most of their core, the expectation was that they would continue contending. Instead, the Rockets took a big step back to the .500 area, and now must contemplate how they can build a contender around James Harden.
That could lead to their free agents being very much available. Here is a look.
Dwight Howard: Howard likely has become underrated in recent seasons. He is a hall of famer who has been fantastic since he entered the league, but the drama surrounding him from 2011-2013 has overshadowed that reality. Strip all of that away, and what you have in Howard is a talented, but aging, big. Howard is good, but he is no longer great. That he is declining a $23.2 million player option this summer shows the unreasonable nature of his salary expectations as well. This was a fit for Dwight. This is not a fit anymore.
Terrence Jones: Jones could be a sneaky free agent this summer. He is not playing as well as he did last year, but he is a young player with plenty of potential. While he is restricted free agent, the Rockets under Daryl Morey have consistently resisted paying non superstars. Jones’ market may be tepid, but this could be a chance for the Nets to get a decent young player with upside, and through his age 24-28 seasons.
Donatas Motiejunas: Despite his severe back problems, Motiejunas could also be a sneaky acquisition in Brooklyn. A restricted free agent, there is a discernible chance he and the Rockets mutually wish to part ways, after his voided trade to Detroit. Motiejunas’ market may be chilled by his back troubles, but that could help the Nets obtain him, and they are sorely lacking non fringe youth.
Michael Beasley: Some feel the Nets give players too many chances, but this is a league wide thing. Beasley is the epitome of the fact that if teams originally believe a player is good, they are slow to taper back their evaluations. You often hear teams and insiders say teams have a lot of intel on players, dating to college and overseas play. You wonder if due to the mass of information, teams are reluctant to simply see a player struggle and adjust evaluations: fans are quicker to do so, often for the better. This is year 8 for Beasley and while he can score, can he do anything else? The Nets should look elsewhere. The Rockets have a team option.
Andrew Goudelock: The Rockets are giving Goudelock a late season audition. A 27 year old fringe point guard, the Nets do not need to prioritize him. The Rockets have a team option.
Jason Terry: Terry has quietly had a mini resurgence since leaving Brooklyn. He can shoot the 3 ball, but outside of that and veteran leadership (which leadership is not exactly helping in Houston, anyway), provides little at this late stage of his career.
Josh Smith: Smith is now on the wrong side of 30. He has been unable to provide a boost this season in Los Angeles, and now in Houston. He is the precise type of player the Nets shouldn’t be interested in.
Thaddeus Young for Corey Brewer, Montrezl Harrell, and the Rockets’ 2018 first round pick: The Rockets cannot deal their 2016 pick because they traded it for Ty Lawson. I do not see them making this deal at this point. Last summer, they thought they could take the next step from the 55 win level to a championship, when they dealt a lottery protected first to Denver for Ty Lawson. Are they are that point now? And is dealing Young for no true asset the next two years a smart move for Brooklyn? Still, if you want to deal Young, this is the type of deal you are looking at.