Still Available Players Houston Rockets Must Target
The Houston Rockets have undergone a few noticeable changes so far this offseason, but there are a few available players that the team must target in order to completely round out their new-look roster.
Dwight Howard was the team's big catch, but the signings of Reggie Williams and Omri Casspi give the team plenty of bodies at shooting guard and small forward. Those were areas of need entering the offseason, but general manager Daryl Morey has done an excellent job of addressing them.
With point guard being extremely deep (Jeremy Lin, Patrick Beverley and Isaiah Canaan), the only places that really stand to improve at this point are power forward and center. The depth behind Howard is a question mark. Omer Asik could very well end up being the reserve center, but there's conflict there and there's no telling what type of impact he'll have given his situation.
At power forward, Terrence Jones and Donatas Motiejunas lack someone who can mentor them while also playing solid defense for the team. Jermaine O'Neal was somebody that could have helped the team in this regard, but he has since signed with Golden State Warriors.
There are a few names remaining in free agency that make sense for the Rockets, but there is also one intriguing name currently playing in the summer league for the Miami Heat. He's unsigned, so the Rockets could swoop in and grab him.
The Rockets' makeover isn't done just yet.
Kenyon Martin should be a top priority for Morey. He may not have put up eye-popping numbers for the New York Knicks last season, but his energy and defensive presence made him extremely valuable to a team often referred to as soft.
There's no doubt that he could be had on a league-minimum contract, which is exactly what Houston will be looking for. On a one-year deal, it's hard to find a better fit than Martin.
The problem is that Martin may not be healthy enough at this point in his career to stay on the court for a full season. He has played just 60 games combined over the last two seasons and hasn't played more than 58 games since 2008-09 when he played in 66 games.
Even if he isn't healthy, though, he can be a big help to the team's young power forwards—especially Motiejunas. Jones is more of an athletic power forward, so Martin won't be able to help him outside of a few small pointers. Motiejunas' build is much more similar, and Martin could teach him everything there is to know about being a defensive presence and dominator of the glass.
Lineups with both Howard and Martin on the floor would also be ridiculously intimidating. It definitely would not be easy for the opposition to score in the paint. A deal for a big man really comes down to what head coach Kevin McHale and Morey plan on doing with Asik, but Martin is a name that could end up fitting regardless.
Samuel Dalembert may be a stretch for a league-minimum contract, as he made just over $6.5 million last season with the Milwaukee Bucks. That being said, his numbers weren't great and that could lead him to taking a pay cut.
Dalembert is a familiar face for Rockets fans. He played for Houston in 2011-12 and played pretty well in 22.2 minutes per game. The difference between his role that season and what would be his role this upcoming season is that he won't be playing nearly as many minutes.
Howard will be on the court for every bit of 32 minutes per game—possibly more, if the situation calls for it. With Greg Smith slated to see minutes behind him as well, Dalembert could be asked to play around 10-12 minutes. If he's willing to accept a minimum contract and play a smaller role in an effort to play on a winning team, then Houston is the place to be.
He has been in negotiations with the Dallas Mavericks for the past several days, but Morey could be able to swoop in quickly and steal him from Dallas. I mean, it wouldn't be the first time this offseason Dallas lost out on acquiring a player that it was heavily courting.
Dalembert would also be able to mentor the team's younger big men, as he is one of the better shot-blockers in the NBA—even at age 32. His career mark of 1.8 blocks per game includes three seasons of at least 2.3 per game.
He could be a stretch monetarily, but it's hard to deny the fit.
Now, we head over to the "players you've probably never heard of" section. Michael Dunigan is currently playing as an unsigned player for the Miami Heat in the Las Vegas Summer League. He has also played in the Orlando Summer League this offseason.
The 24-year-old is 6'10" and 250 pounds, a similar build to that of Dalembert. He's tall and lanky, but don't think that gives him a disadvantage strength-wise on the glass. He's the Heat's leading rebounder through play this summer.
In Orlando, he averaged 9.8 points, four rebounds and 1.5 blocks per game. In a league where players don't play a ton of minutes, that line is quite impressive. He's pulling in over six per game in Las Vegas and is proving himself as a worthy NBA candidate.
After going undrafted in 2011 out of the University of Oregon, Dunigan has made stops in Israel and the Philippines in an effort to keep playing. That decision has proven to be a good one.
Dunigan is unfortunately without a clear-cut spot in Miami, as the team's only free spot is currently being vacated by Juwan Howard. This would make Houston ideal candidates to sign him.
Even if he doesn't progress and turn into a starting NBA center, he has the tools necessary to be a valuable piece coming off the bench. He's certainly a player that could benefit from the coaching of McHale, as well.
Dunigan may deserve a final spot with the Rockets more than anybody else.
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