After connecting on moon-shot acquisitions in each of the past two offseasons with James Harden and Dwight Howard, the Houston Rockets are back in the batter's box waiting for their turn to swing for the fences once again.
General manager Daryl Morey's superstar scheme has nearly come to fruition. While the Rockets' championship chase ultimately fell short, this group still produced elite-level results: 54 wins and a 108.6 offensive rating (fourth-best in the NBA).
So, it's back to the drawing board for Morey and Co. or the dream board as they seem to view it. Few franchises, if any, aim higher than Houston, which has already voiced its desire to snag another big fish from the offseason waters.
"We're going to have cap room to bring in a terrific free agent and I think next year we'll be a lot better than we were this year," Rockets owner Leslie Alexander said, via Marc Berman of Fox 26 Sports.
The owner could prove prophetic on the latter. The Rockets should be better next season. Not only did Houston have the youngest roster of this postseason, it also had just 82 games to figure out the Howard-Harden dynamic. Clearly, there's still work to be done on that front.
As for the former part of Alexander's quote, though, that's a little tricky to follow. The Rockets could have free-agent funds to throw around, but it's not without getting through several layers of red tape first.
Houston has more than $59 million on the books for next season, via ShamSports.com, and would need to shed several significant salaries (think: Omer Asik and Jeremy Lin) to gain the buying power Alexander is apparently after.
That red tape could be avoided if the Rockets follow the same path that netted them Harden: the trade market. That's where big names can be found in abundance, a claim this free-agent market couldn't make unless things go sour in South Beach.
Houston, as always, will be after a notable name. Some on this list are more recognizable than others, but all should invigorate a fanbase.
After that criteria, it's up to the Rockets to decide what they desire. There are superstar scorers and dominant defenders potentially available if Morey just makes the necessary call.