Goran Dragic and Steve Nash
The Houston Rockets once again find themselves in a predicament determining whether to rebuild or retain their core group of players. Barely missing the playoffs last season, mostly due to a 1-7 stretch at the end of the truncated schedule, just adds fuel to the burning dilemma. However in both solutions, the organization needs to pursue new players in either an attempt to rebuild or acquire a playoff berth.
An appropriate question that must be asked, though, is who should this team try to obtain via trade, free agency or draft.
While the Rockets don't possess a plethora of cap space, as they are financially committed to the cumbersome contracts of Luis Scola, Kevin Martin and Kyle Lowry, the team does have enough money to land a star. But, Houston's attempts of landing a star have often fell flat. Last season, the Rockets failed to add Pau Gasol of the Los Angeles Lakers.
Players who are either a serviceable center or provide point guard depth will most likely be on Houston's radar.
The subsequent slides will list and examine Houston's five best options regarding players who would be able to elevate the team's level of competitiveness in the playoff hunt.
Name: Eric Gordon
Position: Shooting guard
2011-12 Stats: 20.6 PPG, 3.4 APG and 2.8 RPG
The future looks bright in New Orleans after the franchise won the NBA lottery a.k.a the Anthony Davis sweepstakes. A duo of Davis and Gordon would be downright frightening in the Association in five years, as the combination of a high-octane scoring guard and dominant big man has been quite successful over the years.
However, Gordon, who is a restricted free agent this offseason, has not committed to the Hornets. Instead, he plans to keep his mind open about signing in different cities.
The 6'3" guard in Houston would be a perfect fit. Despite the Rockets needing to remove a few cumbersome contracts in order to sign Gordon, a deal between the two parties is possible.
Gordon would help shore up a backcourt that has struggled immensely with injuries. Both Kevin Martin and Kyle Lowry are talented, but physical ailments hampered their production last season.
Additionally, Gordon would become the star the Rockets have been desiring since the retirement of Yao Ming.
Name: Roy Hibbert
2011-12 Stats: 12.8 PPG, 8.8 RPG and 2.0 BPG
Roy Hibbert, despite already being named an All-Star this past season, is still raw offensively and has the chance to become a truly dominant center.
His 7'2" frame, impressive mid-range jumper and shot-blocking abilities brought great success to the Indiana Pacers this past year. These intangibles weren't more utilized than in Indiana's second-round matchup versus the powerhouse Miami Heat.
While the organization didn't advance, Hibbert did put them in a great position to complete the upset.
Hibbert, though, is a free agent and may leave the state of Indiana. If this possibility does come to fruition, Houston would be a terrific landing spot for the big man. With Marcus Camby and Samuel Dalembert both on their way out of the NBA, Hibbert would have the luxury to start from day one and play on an already impressive roster.
Plus, Houston would finally have a player competent enough to battle versus the likes of Andrew Bynum, Al Jefferson and Tim Duncan.
Name: Goran Dragic
Position: Point guard
2011-12 Stats: 11.7 PPG, 5.3 APG and 2.5 RPG
A new debacle may have arose in Houston after Kyle Lowry voiced his displeasure of playing alongside Goran Dragic and Kevin McHale. While it may not command the national attention of Orlando's "Dwightmare," this is a problem for the organization.
This past season, the Rockets boasted one of the best point guard duos in the entire league. The combination of the aggressive Kyle Lowry and electric Goran Dragic vastly improved the Rockets' backcourt from previous seasons.
But with Lowry's recent interview, it looks as if the Rockets must decide which guard to keep.
Lowry is obviously the more established player, but his extensive injury history does raise doubts. Dragic, on the other hand, played fantastic in Lowry's absence due to recovering from sports hernia and adductor muscle surgery.
The answer is simple, as Dragic is most certainly the better choice. Not only does he not possess a prima donna attitude, but he has less miles on his legs and more upside.
Name: Steve Nash
Position: Point guard
2011-12 Stats: 12.5 PPG, 10.7 APG and .6 SPG
Steve Nash has been playing for a dismal Phoenix squad for quite some time now. Gone are the days of Suns dominance featuring Nash, Shawn Marion, Amar'e Stoudemire and the run-and-gun style of Mike D'Antoni.
However, Nash will finally have the opportunity to abandon ship.
The Rockets present an immediate upgrade over the lousy Suns roster. Houston is more talented, deep and ready to win than Phoenix.
Plus, Nash would not have to log major minutes with Lowry and/or Dragic. This will, in turn, improve his level of play and extend his impressive career.
Name: Meyers Leonard
2011-12 Stats (College): 13.6 PPG, 8.2 RPG and 1.9 BPG
Meyers Leonard is one of the few true center prospects in this year's draft class. His athleticism coupled with his size makes this 7'1" Illinois prospect an encouraging selection.
With Camby and Dalembert on the wrong side of 30 and the uncertainty regarding Hibbert's future, the Rockets must draft Leonard if he's still on the board at 14.
Leonard, along with Chandler Parsons and Patrick Patterson, will solidify the team's frontcourt of the future.
Sure, he's still quite raw, but his future contributions will almost certainly make up for his immediate struggles.