In their place, the Rockets drafted Royce White, Jeremy Lamb and Terrence Jones in the first round of this year's draft. While all three players have promise, they are all unproven at the NBA level and may not be ready for the physicality of a long season.
In the 2011 NBA draft, the Rockets chose Marcus Morris and Donatas Motiejunas, who recently signed with the team, in the first round. The Rockets are loaded with young talent at the moment, but they may be looking to move some of their young pieces for some proven veterans.
At shooting guard, Kevin Martin remains a talented scorer, even if he declined slightly last season. Martin is also entering the final season of his contract, so his expiring deal will be coveted by GM's across the league.
Rockets' GM Daryl Morey has made his intentions quite clear; he is in pursuit of a superstar. He has looked over the recent history of the Rockets and has decided to try a different approach.
Rather than having an all-around good team, Morey wants to lure a couple superstars to Houston.
Over the past year, Morey has targeted Pau Gasol, Dwight Howard and Andrew Bynum. If he lands any of those players, the Rockets will once again have a franchise player.
With the arrival of Steve Nash to the Los Angeles Lakers, it appears unlikely that Laker GM Mitch Kupchak will deal Gasol away because he is a perfect compliment to Nash's game.
In order to land a star in a trade, Morey focused on cutting salary. His plan was to make the Rockets a rarity in the NBA, a team with financial flexibility,
Morey decided to use the amnesty clause on Luis Scola, who was probably the best player ever to be amnestied. That, along with the trades of Budinger and Dalembert, only reinforce the thought that they are chasing an elite player.
It is startling to think that the Rockets now have a need at point guard, considering they had Lowry and Dragic when last season ended.
In a rather unexpected turn of events, the starting point guard for the Rockets next season will be Jeremy Lin. For what it's worth, I expect both Lowry and Dragic to outperform Lin this year.
While most expected the New York Knicks to match the Rockets' three-year $25.1 million contract, there are reports that they will not do so. Houston's offer to Lin was back-loaded, and he will be getting paid $14.8 million in the third year of the deal.
That scared the Knicks away.
If Asik lands up in Houston with Lin, the Rockets won't have as much cap space to offer financial relief to the Orlando Magic in return for Dwight Howard.
If the Rockets were to land a superstar before next season starts, it will more than likely be Bynum in a three-team trade that would send Howard to the Lakers.
Morey has gone all-in with his attempt to bring a superstar to Houston and cannot turn back now. In a perfect world for the Rockets, they would acquire Howard via trade and convince Chris Paul, who will be a free agent next summer, to join Superman.
All of that would have to happen and management would still have to hope that Howard would sign a contract extension with them, which he is unlikely do.
Morey has gotten the Rockets on the brink of getting a franchise altering player, but landing the big fish is proving to be the hardest part.