USA TODAY Sports
Dwight Howard might be a Rocket—but he's no slam dunk.
Ingredient: big-time acquisition
Rockets currently: pending
Is this acquisition mandatory? Not necessarily.
The Spurs didn't got this route. They stole Manu Ginobili as the 57th overall pick and then let him develop. They drafted Tony Parker late in the first round and allowed him to do the same thing.
The Lakers of course did, obtaining Shaq via free agency and then getting Pau Gasol in one of the all-time lopsided trades in NBA history.
With their aforementioned cap room, the Rockets will likely go after a high-profile free agent, most likely a big man. Two of the biggest names available this offseason are likely to be Josh Smith and Dwight Howard.
Here's my issue: While I wouldn't say no to either player, neither is a (pardon the pun) slam dunk like O'Neal or Gasol was. Both provide reason for doubt.
Smith doesn't seem to be able to restrain himself from shooting from the outside, and his jump shot, said politely, is not why he's a superstar. In addition, his long-rumored and long-denied attitude problem finally hit the fan with his suspension earlier this season.
Howard is a massive talent and could play at power forward with Asik at center. But he, too, has a questionable attitude, being almost as good at complaining, blaming, justifying and passing the buck as he is at playing ball.
My advice when going after either guy: Houston is a destination now, and netting Thomas Robinson gives the Rockets a player capable of growing into the power forward position. So, feel free to offer big bucks—but watch the years on the contract you offer. Things could go south with either guy, so it's important that the Rockets have an out.
Dynasties can be won by the right free-agent acquisitions, but they can also be lost by the wrong ones. Morey and the Rockets should tread with care here.