Barring any shocking trades, the Houston Rockets' front office will now turn its attention to building a respectable bench by signing value free agents. Dwight Howard’s decision to join the Rockets changed the landscape of the Western Conference, as the 27-year-old center figures to make them better on both ends of the court.
During the 2012-13 regular season, the Rockets bench averaged 30.8 points per game, which ranked 17th in the league. While those numbers didn’t necessarily hurt Houston’s offensive attack, there is room for improvement.
Thus far in the offseason, the Rockets lost Carlos Delfino in free agency but managed to re-sign Francisco Garcia to a new two-year contract. To mitigate the loss of Delfino, general manager Daryl Morey signed ex-Cleveland Cavalier Omri Casspi to a two-year deal for the veteran’s minimum with a team option for the second year.
The Rockets finished the regular season tied for first place in three-pointers attempted per game, as they hoisted up an average of 28.9 triples per contest. Expect that trend to continue now that Howard is in the fold, as his presence inside will generate open looks from behind the arc for his new teammates.
In order for Houston’s roster to reach its potential, Morey must add more capable shooters to the rotation. Fortunately for the Rockets, there are still a few competent marksmen left on the market.
While the play of Howard, James Harden and the rest of the starters will draw most of the focus, the combined performance of the Rockets bench could dictate how successful the team is next season.
Morrow, who played college basketball at Georgia Tech, would be an excellent value fit for the Rockets. At 6’5”, Morrow has prototypical size for a shooting guard, even if most of his value is derived from his jump shot.
Morrow is a deadly shooter off the catch, which would make him a perfect fit in Houston’s fast-paced offensive attack.
While Morrow will never be considered a dominant defender, the Rockets’ decision to offer him a contract would be based on his shooting ability. Over the span of his five-year career, Morrow has converted on 42.4 percent of his shots from behind the arc.
Morrow appeared in just 41 games last season, which means the market for his services should be limited. Based upon that, the Rockets should be able to bring him aboard at a team-friendly price.
After playing 24 games for the Atlanta Hawks last season, where he saw his minutes cut due to the presence of superior sharpshooter Kyle Korver, Morrow was traded to the Dallas Mavericks. Unfortunately for Morrow, the change of scenery did not help, as a hip injury only allowed him to appear in 17 games as a Mav.
After failing to find a home for the majority of the 2012-13 season, Kenyon Martin took little time to make a difference once signed by the New York Knicks.
In just 18 games in the Big Apple, Martin averaged 7.2 points, 5.3 rebounds and shot 60.2 percent from the floor while playing 23.9 minutes per game. For a backup power forward, those are solid numbers.
Once he joined the Knicks, Martin brought a burst of energy off the bench that Mike Woodson’s team desperately needed. His energy manifested itself on the boards and on the defensive end of the court, both of which are areas the Rockets could figure to improve.
Martin is a better fit than most of the other power forwards on the market for Houston because he is capable of running the floor.
The Rockets won’t need him to create his own shots offensively, as he will be asked to attack the glass for offensive rebounds. Over the course of his career, Martin has averaged 1.8 offensive boards per game.
Martin played last season for the veteran’s minimum, which is a figure he may be destined to earn again in the upcoming campaign. At 35 years of age, the Cincinnati product is in the twilight of his career and chasing a title.
Fortunately for the Rockets, the arrival of Howard propels them into title contention, which could convince veterans to take a pay cut in order to make a playoff run.
Also, Houston is a young team, which means the veteran presence of Martin would be beneficial to the locker room (provided that Martin is happy with his situation with the team).
Roger Mason Jr.
Although Roger Mason Jr. has failed to make a major dent in the NBA, his ability to shoot the three-ball consistently could make him a useful member of the Houston Rockets.
During the 2012-13 season as a member of the then-New Orleans Hornets, Mason knocked down 41.5 percent of his threes while attempting 2.3 triples per contest.
Similar to Anthony Morrow, Mason Jr. is at his best when shooting off the catch, which is a desired trait in Houston’s offense. With Harden and Jeremy Lin getting into the lane off the pick-and-roll, the presence of knockdown shooters like Mason Jr. could make the Rockets offense a nightmare to stop.
While he only played 17.7 minutes per game, Rockets head coach Kevin McHale would have no reason to increase his workload. Coming off the bench, Mason Jr. would see plenty of open looks in Houston’s offense.