Projecting Houston Rockets' 2013 Free-Agency Big Board
The Houston Rockets have built a solid roster around young shooting guard James Harden and are on the verge of clinching a playoff birth in his first year with the organization.
However, the team still has quite a bit of room to improve and could become a major player in 2013's free agency extravaganza.
Houston only has about $40 million in guaranteed contracts, which should leave them with as much as $18 million to play with this summer.
It remains to be seen how much of that will be used on re-signing their own players, but regardless, that's quite a bit of change to throw at potential free agents.
As he ages, West is becoming a smarter player who dominates in the low post and easily finds his way to the basket for points.
His shooting percentages are through the roof and he's rebounding at a higher clip than ever before.
Pairing him with a high-energy rebounder like the Houston Rockets Omer Asik would make for a deadly combination.
West's age and possible high price tag could make him a hard sell, but he's a no-brainer if the Rockets can get him for relatively cheap.
If the Houston Rockets could get Jarrett Jack to sign up with them for 2014 and beyond it would help them in two major ways.
For one, Jack would give the Rockets another scoring threat off the bench, something they might need if Carlos Delfino's contract isn't picked up.
The second way Jack helps the Rockets is by giving them a point guard to try and light a fire under Jeremy Lin.
After all, they gave Lin a lot of money this past offseason and were probably hoping he'd play better than he has so far.
J.J. Hickson is having the best season of his young career, which could make him tough to get during the offseason.
However, Hickson's game could prove invaluable to the Houston Rockets.
Hickson's been playing center all year, but his 6'9", 242-pound frame makes him better suited for the 4-spot.
Just imagine his intensity and energy alongside Omer Asik.
In addition, his skill set would play into the Rockets up-tempo style and his ability to hit the offensive glass would provide even more opportunities for Houston's already deadly offense.
Considering he's in the middle of his greatest season yet, it's likely that Hickson will command a big salary. There's also some concern that, once he gets his fat, new contract, the young player's motor will stop running so hot.
That said, he should be very high on Houston's big board this summer.
For obvious reasons, the Houston Rockets don't need to add much at the shooting guard position; however, the team doesn't have many defensive-minded guards, making Xavier Henry an interesting prospect.
Henry isn't going to come in and make a huge impact offensively, but he doesn't have to.
The young 2-guard simply has to accept a role behind All-Star James Harden and try to improve the team's woeful defense.
Henry's not an elite defender yet, but he has the athleticism and toughness to become one.
Considering that Houston's defense ranks near the bottom, picking up a young, athletic defender like Henry would be a move in the right direction.
Paul Millsap's time with the Utah Jazz looks to be at an end after this season.
That opens up the door for a team with a need at power forward to sign the 28-year-old and immediately improve their starting rotation.
Donatas Motiejunas has done a decent job opposite Omer Asik for the Houston Rockets this season, but Millsap would be a huge upgrade, if the organization can find a way to bring him in.
The Rockets have done well rebounding the ball this season, but Millsap would make them even better, while also improving their shooting.
The potential tandem of Asik and Millsap could be deadly on the glass, gobbling up boards night after night.
He's going to be looking for big money, but the Rockets might just have enough to afford him.
Carl Landry is basically the poor man's Paul Millsap, making him a cheaper option for the Houston Rockets to upgrade their power forward position.
That isn't to say that Landry's a bad player, far from it in fact.
Landry's proven to be an underrated player who shoots at a high percentage and displays a smooth mid-range jumper. His defense leaves a little to be desired, but it's just good enough.
Obviously, it's possible that the Rockets' organization could decide to stick with one of their young guys like Thomas Robinson over signing a free agent; however, if they want a cheap placeholder, Landry could be their guy.
As mentioned previously, the Houston Rockets defense is among the league's worst.
If anyone can come in and fix that it's Tony Allen.
True, his offensive game isn't out of this world, but his stalwart defense more than makes up for it.
This almost seems like a match made in heaven.
The Rockets have scoring in bunches, but need better defenders to compete with the league's elite; Allen needs to play for a team that wants him to focus on locking down his opponent instead of scoring.
The only problem here is that Allen is just 6'4", which unfortunately makes him ideal for the shooting guard position. If Allen were to come to Houston he'd have to accept a backup role behind James Harden.
Ronnie Brewer isn't near the perimeter defender Tony Allen is, but he does bring 6'7" size to the table, making him a better option at the 3-spot.
Brewer learned how to play defense under legendary coach Jerry Sloan and then joined the Chicago Bulls "bench mob" for two seasons, establishing a pedigree that's well respected.
His defense hasn't been well utilized during his short time with the Oklahoma City Thunder; however, that doesn't mean the talent isn't there.
We've seen Brewer display the ability to vastly improve a second unit's defense, something the Houston Rockets desperately need.
Brewer doesn't bring the same buzz Tony Allen would, but he might actually be a better fit for this organization.
Josh Smith has to be at the top of the Houston Rockets' big board heading into this summer.
He represents the opportunity to make a major upgrade at the power forward position, while also greatly improving the team's defensive abilities.
In addition, he excels in an uptempo style, making him a near-perfect fit for the young Rockets squad.
This is a deal that the Rockets brass simply has to make happen.
If they could talk Smith into signing with them, Houston would immediately become a contender in the Western Conference.
A match made in heaven if there's ever been one, look for the Rockets to get this sewn up as early as possible this offseason.