In a summer filled with potential blockbuster moves, the Houston Rockets first must make decisions on their own players whose contracts have expired. They have quite a few players who are either free agents or have a team option for next season.
The Rockets had a fun season with a good group of guys, but an early playoff elimination could change all of that this offseason. Some players came up big off the bench, while others didn't earn their paychecks. It's up to GM Daryl Morey to decide who stays and who goes.
So far, we know two things that have already happened. First, the Rockets decided not to pick up the team option on Chandler Parsons, as reported by Brian Windhorst at ESPN. It's not very clear what this means for Parsons and his future in Houston. It could either send him away or keep him around for a long time. This move could set up a big trade either with or without Chandler Bang.
We could talk all day about the possibilities, but for now, read this piece by Adam Wexler of CSN Houston for a better understanding on the situation.
Another smaller, but relevant, piece of free-agent news related to Houston has to do with Francisco Garcia. The Rockets signed him to a two-year deal with a player option last summer after a great postseason run, but this season was much different.
The "Gar3ia" magic didn't last, and Garcia has decided to opt out of his deal, as reported by Chris Haynes of CSN Houston. This move is probably mutually beneficial; Garcia wants more playing time, and the Rockets don't need to pay someone to ride the pine.
So, with Parsons' and Garcia's fates already somewhat decided, that still leaves five roster decisions for Morey and his staff to deal with this summer. Omri Casspi and Jordan Hamilton are unrestricted free agents, and the Rockets have team options on Patrick Beverley, Troy Daniels and Josh Powell. To save us some time, I'll avoid giving Powell his own section by telling you now that he will not be coming back.
Some of these decisions are obvious; others aren't so simple. Let's break down the pros and cons for each of these guys and figure out what to do with them in this edition of "Keep or Cut."
Type: Team Option
Salary: $0.9 million
Beverley stole the starting point guard slot from Jeremy Lin this past season. His all-out hustle and smothering defense earned him the job. Morey found this guy overseas in the middle of the 2012-13 season and signed him for a bargain. Now, Bev is a key piece to the Rockets' puzzle.
Beverley earned second team All-NBA Defensive honors for his performance this year, despite missing 26 games due to a broken hand and a torn meniscus. Winning that award despite all of his injuries should tell you how tough this guy is.
When he first went down with the torn meniscus in late March, many people thought the Rockets' chances were completely destroyed. Beverley's mental toughness and leadership, along with his aggressive defense, make him a crucial part of this team.
There's no question that Houston should pick up the team option. The Rockets can keep an important starter on the team for next to nothing, and Beverley can play next season to try and prove he's worth a long-term deal.
Type: Free Agent
Last year's salary: $0.9 million
After such a strong start to the season, it looked like Casspi had found a home in Houston. He was a frequently used bench player that could come into the game and put points on the scoreboard.
But as the season progressed, Casspi's game did not. His statistics fell back down to Earth. He was posting 9.3 ppg in November, but that number dropped to just 6.1 by the end of the season in April. His minutes took a large decrease, and he didn't log a single minute in the playoffs.
The only thing that could have saved Casspi's job was his three-point shooting—and even that disappeared. His 42.9 three-point percentage in November plummeted to just 29.4 percent in April. His overall 34.7 behind-the-arc percentage just isn't going to cut it.
The Rockets will try to vastly improve their bench this offseason, and that means replacing guys like Casspi. Especially if Houston wants to boost its three-point shooting, Casspi has to go.
Type: Team Option
Salary: $0.8 million
If you think the Rockets might get rid of the "Sniper from the Vipers," you're crazy.
Daniels played the role of playoff hero after virtually spending his entire season in the Rio Grande Valley. He appeared in four postseason games after playing only five games in the entire regular season and shot 53.3 percent from deep, including this game-winner in Game 3. This is the kind of guy that the Rockets need on their bench going forward.
Houston attempted the most threes in the NBA last year, but they only had the 16th-best percentage. Part of that reason is because the bench players simply were not very good shooters. Morey should retool the bench to have more guys like Daniels who can shoot threes at above 40 percent.
Daniels is a no-brainer for Morey and the Rockets. The sniper could become a huge role player next season for the Rockets like he was in the postseason.
Type: Free Agent
Last year's salary: $1.2 million
The Rockets acquired Hamilton in a deadline deal for Aaron Brooks this February. It seemed like a smart trade at first, but Hamilton's impact faded away quickly.
After hitting six threes in his first two games as a Rocket, Hamilton cooled off dramatically. His 36.2 percentage from behind the arc was not enough to get him significant playing time by the end of the season, and he didn't even make an appearance in the playoffs.
Houston doesn't need another guy like Hamilton to count against the salary cap, especially with that three-point percentage. Just like Garcia and Casspi, Hamilton finished his career with Houston in disappointing fashion after a promising beginning.
Morey can replace Hamilton with better, cheaper options to come off the bench and hit some threes.
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