Five Burning Questions Surrounding Houston Rockets This Offseason
With the Houston Rockets 2010 season officially in the rearview mirror, it’s time now to take a look at five burning issues facing the team this offseason.
And from the question marks surrounding Yao Ming to draft concerns and free agency, head coach Rick Adelman and general manager Daryl Morey have a lot on their plate as they prepare for next season.
Let’s begin with the Yao issue and take it from there…
1. Will Yao Ming Return as the Houston Rockets Center?
The giant shoes to fill if Yao Ming darts for greener pastures by opting out of his Houston Rockets contract could be the biggest issue facing head coach Adelman, general manager Daryl Morey and company this offseason.
If Yao leaves, who will be Houston’s center?
Will Houston opt for a similar attitude to this season without their Chinese seven-footer, or will they decide to take a big man in the 2010 NBA Draft?
One way or the other, the answer to the Yao Ming trivia will come soon enough.
But if Yao leaves the Rockets, look for Houston’s star coach and smart GM to pull the trigger on something big.
The replacement may not be a seven-foot All-Star from China, but hopefully he’ll fill Yao’s shoes with ease next season in the Lone Star State.
2. How Will Houston Fare in a Full Season with Kevin Martin and Company?
Barring any unforeseen changes to the current lineup of new additions to the team, this question will be answered fairly quickly after the 2010-11 season tips off in November.
However, what has yet to be seen is who will be surrounding the newcomers—and what, if anything, Houston does this offseason in regards to picking up a top-notch free agent or signing a major draft pick.
Team chemistry, as per usual for the Rockets, will be vital to the team’s success.
And if the new guys can learn to mesh and mold with the likes of Aaron Brooks, Luis Scola, Trevor Ariza, Shane Battier, and Chuck Hayes (just to name a handful of players), Houston may very well be playoff-bound next season regardless of the question marks surrounding its starting center.
3. Who Will the Rockets Take in the 2010 NBA Draft?
This, obviously, has yet to be seen; but many mock drafts have the Houston Rockets drafting international talent.
My hope, as both a Baylor fan and a die-hard Rockets fan, is that Houston will have the opportunity to go after former Bears forward Ekpe Udoh in this summer’s NBA Draft.
Another viable option (although he will likely remain undrafted) would be for the Rockets to take big man Josh Lomers, also a former Baylor player under head coach Scott Drew that helped propel the Bears to this year’s Sweet 16.
Of course, they could look elsewhere beyond international or BU limits.
Regardless of whom the Rockets draft, that answer will come on June 24...
4. What Will Houston Do Regarding Re-Signing Their Free Agents?
Obviously, re-signing Luis Scola (along with hopefully retaining Kyle Lowry) is a priority for the Rockets—and it’s an issue Houston general manager Daryl Morey has already addressed.
“They’re going to be back; [team owner] Mr. [Les] Alexander said we’ve got all the resources,” Morey told Rockets.com staff writer Jason Friedman. “When we made the trade at the deadline and walked him through it, we said this might be a year where we go above where we’ve been before in terms of financial commitment and he felt like what we were getting in the trade [was worth it].
“Kyle [Lowry] and Luis [Scola] are two of his favorite players on the team—for the obvious reasons that they help us win and they’re both hard working guys—and we’re going to have them back…Mr. Alexander said we’re keeping them no matter what.”
You heard it from Morey himself; let’s hope Houston can re-sign both of those guys as they aim to continue the moderate success they tasted this past season.
5. Can Daryl Morey and the Coaches Build around the Current Team?
Once again, Houston GM Daryl Morey addressed this and other issues at a final press conference talking about this past Rockets season and looking towards the future.
“Even though we’re proud of a lot of what we accomplished this year, we weren’t a playoff team and we do feel like we’re short of having the roster to compete at the highest level,” Morey said. “We feel like we need to be aggressive. I think a lot of teams make mistakes where they try to do everything in the offseason prior to the season and then they lose their flexibility to upgrade their team during the year.
“So it may not necessarily be something that happens during the offseason; it could be that Yao Ming is our big acquisition during the offseason plus maybe some minor free agent pick-ups. But that doesn’t mean we’re not going to be constantly looking at [more high-profile] free agents.”
Let’s raise a glass to Morey and his staff as a busy offseason awaits.
It’s time to bring back the title days to the city of Houston, Texas!
Denton Ramsey may be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org