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Under-the-Radar Free-Agent Bargains Houston Rockets Must Consider

Anthony Morrow would be a great fit with the Rockets.
Anthony Morrow would be a great fit with the Rockets.USA TODAY Sports
Jake LapinCorrespondent IMay 20, 2014

As the NBA offseason is set to begin, the Houston Rockets will be among the teams making moves, trying to improve the roster for next year.

According to Yahoo Sports' Adrian Wojnarowski, the Rockets are rumored to be interested in pursuing Kevin Love, who wants out of Minnesota. Why wouldn't they be interested? Love is a top-10 player in the league. He's the best rebounder in the business, and he can shoot threes as good as any guard.

OAKLAND, CA - APRIL 14: Kevin Love #42 of the Minnesota Timberwolves during a game against the Golden State Warriors on April 14, 2014 at Oracle Arena in Oakland, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or
Rocky Widner/Getty Images

However, Love may have other teams in mind, per ESPN.com's Marc Stein and Ramona Shelburne. Also, combine that with the fact that the only way the Rockets can pull off a trade for Love would be to ship out Jeremy Lin, Omer Asik and their back-loaded contracts, and all in all, it's a very unlikely scenario.

So assuming this labor of Love doesn't work out, the Rockets should have backup plans in mind. GM Daryl Morey loves to make a splash, and he will probably try to bring in a third superstar to join James Harden and Dwight Howard. However, Houston should ideally have some realistic options to go after in free agency.

The Rockets have some holes in their bench that need to be filled. In the playoffs, the Rockets used very few bench players, and one of them had only played a handful of NBA games in his entire life (Troy Daniels). Houston must strengthen its second-stringers if it wants to make a deep playoff run next season.

There are a few big needs the Rockets should focus on in free agency.

First of all, the Rockets should find shooters. Houston attempted more threes than any other team last season, yet its percentage was in the middle of the pack. Morey needs to find better shooters, like Daniels, who can bring that percentage up. That way, the Rockets can stop dying and start living by the three the way their strategy intended.

Secondly, Houston would benefit from any type of defense at all. The Rockets were woeful at times on the defensive end, especially around the perimeter. Howard may be an elite defender, but he can't do it all by himself. Some defensive help would be nice, but not just any defensive specialist. The Rockets had Ronnie Brewer for that last season, but they had to cut him because he was such a liability on offense.

Houston should find a good defensive player who can play both ways.

The Rockets should look for these qualities in players from a few positions. A new point guard may be a necessity, depending on Lin's future with the team. Another big man would be useful, especially a power forward who can shoot threes and stretch the floor.

Any of these needs can be addressed through the draft as well. Houston has the 25th and 42nd picks this year. But for an immediate impact, here are four guys whom the Rockets could snag in free agency for cheap.

 

Mark J. Terrill/Associated Press

Jodie Meeks

Meeks will become an unrestricted free agent this summer following a solid campaign with the pitiful Los Angeles Lakers. Meeks averaged 15.7 points per game and is a legitimate offensive threat.

If he is willing to take the job, Meeks would be a perfect fit in Houston backing up James Harden. Meeks can create his own scoring chances, and best of all, he shot over 40 percent from behind the arc in 2013-14. He didn't play a whole lot of defense this past year (after all, his coach was Mike D'Antoni), but he would still be a great scoring option off the bench.

Last season, Meeks made about $1.5 million in L.A. He is probably expecting a raise this year somewhere else, so he wouldn't exactly be a bargain. But still, his playing style would fit so well that he would be worth the extra bucks.

 

TORONTO, CANADA - APRIL 19:  Patrick Patterson #54 of the Toronto Raptors boxes out during Game One of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals against the Brooklyn Nets of the 2014 NBA playoffs on April 19, 2014 at the Air Canada Centre in Toronto, Ontario,
Ron Turenne/Getty Images

Patrick Patterson

A potential reunion with Patterson could be a nice fit for the Rockets. Houston traded Patterson away to the Sacramento Kings two trade deadlines ago for Thomas Robinson. Morey's plan all along was to shed salary in order to bring in Howard, and it worked.

Now that Howard is locked up for the next few years, Morey may decide to bring Patterson back. P-Pat isn't a star and he has already reached his ceiling, but he can still be a very valuable bench player, especially with Houston.

Patterson is a 6'9" power forward who can shoot the ball very well. He averages about 37 percent shooting from deep for his career. In the playoffs this season with the Toronto Raptors, Patterson put up 10.4 points and 6.7 rebounds per game, and he shot 38.9 percent from three.

The former Kentucky Wildcat would be a great stretch 4 coming off the Rockets bench. He made $3.1 million last year, but considering this will be his fifth year in the league, he probably isn't expecting to cash out this summer. He is a very realistic target whom Morey should consider.

 

NEW ORLEANS, LA - APRIL 16:  Anthony Morrow #3 of the New Orleans Pelicans goes up for a shot against the Houston Rockets during an NBA game on April 16, 2014 at the Smoothie King Center in New Orleans, Louisiana. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges
Layne Murdoch Jr./Getty Images

Anthony Morrow

Consistently one of the best three-point shooters in the game, Morrow has to be on Morey's radar. It's plain and simple. The Rockets would benefit immensely from having one of the purest shooters in the NBA in their arsenal.

Morrow has a player option for next season with the New Orleans Pelicans. He made just over $1 million this past year and has the option to make only a bit more for the upcoming season. After shooting 45.1 percent from behind the arc, good for fourth-best in the league, Morrow will almost definitely opt out of his deal and look to make some more dough.

That's where Morey steps in. If the Rockets decide to offer Morrow a solid deal, they could swipe one of the best shooters in the business away from a division rival and add him to their own list of weapons. Morrow's shooting would put the Rockets over the top in the three-point-shooting category, and considering how often they shoot from deep, it's like a match made in heaven.

 

DENVER, CO - APRIL 9: Aaron Brooks #0 of the Denver Nuggets drives to the basket against the Houston Rockets on April 9, 2014 at the Pepsi Center in Denver, Colorado. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using t
Bart Young/Getty Images

Aaron Brooks

As long as we're trying to bring back Patterson, Houston should also consider trying to re-sign Brooks yet again. The Rockets have already parted ways and then reunited with Brooks once before, and they could do it yet again this offseason.

Houston traded away Brooks this past February at the deadline to the Denver Nuggets in exchange for Jordan Hamilton. The Rockets have a team option on Hamilton and will most likely let him walk based on his underwhelming performance while in H-Town. The Rockets were spoiled at point guard and needed an extra wing, which is why they made the deal, but it didn't work out the way they had hoped.

In the playoffs, Hamilton didn't even play—not to mention Patrick Beverley was battling a fever and his minutes were limited, and Lin was just toying with everyone's emotions, each play more wacky and unpredictable than the previous one.

As it turns out, the Rockets really could have used a point guard down the stretch like Brooks, who was thriving in Denver once he was given a sufficient amount of playing time. In his return to Houston with the Nuggets, AB nearly posted a triple-double with 24 points, 15 assists and eight rebounds.

Brooks is clearly a capable guard in this league. He was Houston's best three-point shooter before it traded him, connecting on nearly 41 percent of his attempts from long range, all in limited minutes.

Depending on what Houston decides to do with Lin, it should absolutely look into getting Brooks back in Rocket red. He was given a no-trade clause last season and he almost pulled the plug, but he decided that he wanted the playing time to prove his worth. He loves Houston, and Houston loves him. This could become yet another chapter in the saga between Brooks and the Rockets.

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