Houston Rockets Players Fighting for Their Basketball Lives This Season

Kenny DeJohn@@kennydejohnAnalyst IIIAugust 18, 2013

Marcus Camby isn't exactly the athlete he used to be.
Marcus Camby isn't exactly the athlete he used to be.Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

The talented Houston Rockets roster is mostly filled by players who are locked into spots for the regular season.

But for a few players on the outside looking in, the difference between making and not making the team could result in the end of their NBA careers.

Veterans aren't the only ones in danger of losing their jobs, as younger players could get stuck in D-League purgatory if they don't crack the NBA roster this season. Fans often forget about undrafted rookies that find their way into the D-League, as their performances and big games aren't always broadcast by the media. Owners and coaches know of the results, but it's not always easy to make room for undrafted rookies with relatively low ceilings.

If training camp doesn't go the way that a few players have planned, then they could be without a job for 2013-14 and beyond. Some guys will make the team this season, but their status moving forward is uncertain.

This season will be a turning point in the careers of several Rockets players.


Marcus Camby, Center

Center Marcus Camby is the most obvious option for this compilation. At 39 years old and with 17 seasons under his belt, a poor showing in 2013-14 could represent his closing number. He only played 24 games last season with the New York Knicks, so the fact that anybody chose to give him another chance is interesting.

Granted, he's still a viable rebounding option off the bench and can still provide some of the defensive capabilities that made him one of the best interior defenders of the early-2000s. On a one-year deal, Camby is a safe signing that won't blow up in general manager Daryl Morey's face.

Never one to stay healthy for an entire season (he literally never has), Camby will likely miss multiple games this season. Assuming a 39-year-old will play more games than he did when he was a 22-year-old rookie is just ridiculous.

This season could very well be his last, though, regardless of performance. He'll be 40 in March and has definitely seen better days in the NBA. Once one of the best centers in the NBA, Camby is no more than a third option at the position for Houston. That will result in limited minutes for the big man.

While that could help to keep him fresh, it may just signal the end. Playing poorly will result in a lack of calls from NBA teams next offseason, but he could even choose to retire on top if he plays well.

On an up-and-coming team like Houston, Camby could prove instrumental to the team's success later in the season. There's no doubting his importance, but there's also no doubting just how well he needs to play if he ever wants to play again.


B.J. Young, Shooting Guard

B.J. Young, an undrafted shooting guard who played for the Arkansas Razorbacks in college, was signed to a three-year deal by the Rockets this offseason.

Even though he was signed to a multi-year contract, the fact that the first year's guarantee is so small shows that Houston isn't expecting much from him this season. It's not that they don't think he can produce, it's just that they don't think he can do it at the NBA level.

That's why he'll likely spend his season in the D-League. Fans shouldn't expect to see him in Houston this season unless an unfortunate string of injuries occur to some of the guards on the roster. With seven solid options at both guard spots (Jeremy Lin, Patrick Beverley, Aaron Brooks, James Harden, Francisco Garcia and Reggie Williams), even a small injury here or there can be replaced by somebody already on the team.

Young should be given every opportunity to succeed in the D-League, but a poor performance could end his NBA career before it even starts. It's not often that undrafted guys become successful in the NBA. Teams aren't exactly enthused about lifetime D-Leaguers, especially ones who haven't even lit up the competition.

Young has the makings of an athletic player with a good shooting touch, but there's a reason he went undrafted. His ceiling isn't as high as Isaiah Canaan (who was drafted by the Rockets), and that lack of potential is what will keep him down this season.

After the life of his three-year contract ends, Young could very well be without a job in the NBA—that is, of course, unless he performs exceptionally well.


Marko Todorovic, Center

Marko Todorovic, a Montenegrin center, was acquired by the Rockets as compensation in the deal that sent power forward Thomas Robinson to the Portland Trail Blazers. He was drafted No. 45 overall by the Blazers in the 2013 NBA draft.

The 6'11", 240-pound center still has some filling out to do before he can bump bodies with some of the NBA's biggest centers, but Todorovic likely won't see NBA action this season. His game isn't totally refined just yet, and the Rockets aren't exactly short on big men.

Dwight Howard and Omer Asik will be the primary options at center, while Camby, Greg Smith and Donatas Motiejunas could also see time there. This leaves no room for a 21-year-old international player with hardly any professional experience.

Plus, Todorovic is still under contract with Barcelona for the upcoming season, so it wouldn't be easy for him to join the NBA anyway. It will be up to the Rockets to keep him in the fold for next season.

His performance in Spain will be what determines his role on next year's team. If he continues the growth on offense that he showed last season, then Houston can find a role for him. With Camby likely gone, Todorovic could presumably take his spot on the roster.

Foreign big men haven't exactly had much success in Houston in recent years, though. Tim Ohlbrecht played in only three games for them last season before being waived at the beginning of the offseason.

If Todorovic can't show more improvement this season while overseas, then his NBA career could end before he gets a chance to start it.