Unexpected Moves Houston Rockets Could Make in Free Agency
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All decisions in the NBA, whether they're made on or off the court, are subject to scrutiny from legions of unsatisfied fans.
A first-round exit at the hands of a superior Oklahoma City Thunder team is nothing to be ashamed of, but there is no question the Houston Rockets and their loyal supporters have high hopes for this offseason.
Thanks to plenty of expired contracts, the Houston Rockets enjoy a little tax relief, and as the saying goes, scared money don't make no money. In other words, the Rockets need to flex some of their cap space, and for Houston, the options are plentiful.
General Manager Daryl Morey could also have the option of going a bit unorthodox as far as his signings go. There are three specific free agents who would really shake things up if they went down to H-Town under new contract(s). For a team like Houston, an unorthodox signing could be the exact thing they need rejuvenate its spirits going into this new season.
After recently declaring his decision to opt out of his Milwaukee contract, Monta Ellis has become a prime target for many teams seeking a talented combo guard with plenty of upside.
Enter Houston, a team that already has a high scoring guard in James Harden. Sure the move seems silly on the surface, but Houston could feasibly create a super-small, super-quick team that could eviscerate opponents both on the break and from the perimeter.
Jeremy Lin at point, Monta as a shooting guard, Harden as a swingman and possibly Chandler Parsons playing the stretch 4 position is a lineup that could work.
It would be a very risky gamble to bring a shooter like Monta in, but there's no denying his ability to put up points. Ellis averaged 19.2 points per game for the 2012-13 regular season, and if he was expected to share the ball with a like-minded scorer a la James Harden, there's no question that average might dip a little.
Better yet, Ellis could also do some work with the secondary unit, so using him as a sixth man of sorts is also possible. It might be an awkward fit, but Ellis would further enhance Houston's lethal offensive attack, and he would help bolster its bench.
With around $38 million in available space for this season, Houston could feasibly afford him to give him the contract he might be seeking.
No matter the time of year, Al Jefferson is probably being overlooked by everybody, and despite it being free-agency time, it's probably still happening to Big Al. Most fans are sleeping on a guy who is arguably the best post-up big man in the league, pouring in an efficient 17.8 points per game on nearly 50 percent shooting.
He might seem "unexpected" because he isn't necessarily a big name, but Jefferson will undoubtedly have a huge impact wherever he ends up, especially if it's in a Houston Rockets uniform. Jefferson is the perfect fit—a consummate team player with a soft touch and plenty of mobility on both ends of the floor.
Jefferson would help ease the transition for some of Houston's younger bigs, and he would also give the Rockets a lot more depth and size at either the power forward or center positions. He would also finally get a lot more publicity in a bigger media market, and perhaps, he can finally shed the reputation for being overlooked.
Here's another big whose signing would prove for a huge, M. Night Shyamalan-esque twist in the never ending NBA storyline—David West rocking a Rockets jersey this upcoming season.
David West is an unrestricted agent, and the Rockets have the space and necessity for a fundamentally sound veteran like West to come aboard. He can play ball with the best of them, but he can also bark with the best of them, too.
West is one of the few intimidating players who can also let his game do the talking.
He has a smooth stroke from mid-range, a gentle touch in the paint and he hustles like a guy fighting for a roster the spot. Plain and simple, the guy wants to win, and he's willing to shed blood to do so—whether it be his or yours. The Rockets desperately need a tough guy on their squad, but they don't necessarily need some scrub enforcer who gives you little more than a flagrant foul every now and then. They need a banger who can contribute in other ways.
West is the best of both worlds and—despite being 32 years of age—he's still capable of putting up 17 points and eight rebounds per night. It would be an stunning maneuver if the Rockets were to lure him from Indiana's solid core, but going to the Rockets wouldn't be a terrible downgrade for West.
Whether they choose Ellis, West or Jefferson, the Rockets need to be realistic about their stature in the league: No team in the league is afraid of Houston, per se, but any maneuver no matter how outside the box it seems is better than one that allows the Rockets to further carve out an identity.
To become an unexpected contender, it starts with an unexpected move. Your call, Mr. Morey.
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