The Rockets find themselves in a precarious situation.
They need some help; that much is sure. They have missed out on the playoffs for the last two seasons and this team, as it is currently constructed, probably won't get them there.
The first problem is that they weren't bad enough to get a top pick in the NBA Draft. They got a nice player in Kansas' Marcus Morris, but I don't know that anyone is predicting that he will be a superstar.
The second, and bigger, problem for the immediate future is that the Rockets don't have a ton of money to throw around. They will have to get creative to add personnel.
The biggest need for the Rockets is a big, physical post player who can rebound and defend. On their roster now, they have an odd amalgamation of undersized bigs and bigs with size who aren't good defenders or rebounders.
Look for them to do all they can to bring someone in who fits that profile.
Dalembert would fill a need for the Rockets right away. He would add size to the frontcourt and would give them a player that can block shots and rebound using his considerable athleticism.
He is an unrestricted free agent, so there is some flexibility there, but his price tag might price the Rockets out of the market for his services.The mid-level exception the Rockets have to offer won't be enough to get him to Houston.
That's where Daryl Morey and the possibility of a sign and trade come into the picture. The Rockets have more players on the team than they have minutes for, and the Kings would certainly like to spread out the money they usually give to Dalembert to more players.
If the Rockets could move a couple of their spare parts in the frontcourt for Dalembert, it would clear up space on the depth chart and improve the team.
Like Dalembert, Andre Iguodala would give the Rockets an athletic big who can rebound, defend and score. Also like Dalembert, his cost is prohibitive.
Unlike Dalembert, he is currently under contract. Morey would have to work out a deal to acquire him, but no one works harder at making deals happen than Morey, and Iguodala is said to be a favorite of the Rockets GM.
Any trade scenario for Iguodala would be constructed similarly to a trade involving Dalembert. It would likely have to involve several post players, as the Sixers aren't happy with their frontcourt as it stands today.
I can already see the smile forming on your face, but please resist laughing. The fact of the matter is that unless they can work a trade, the Rockets can't afford to throw a ton of money at a guy like Tyson Chandler. They have to scour the bargain bins and find the next overlooked asset.
That's where Greg Oden comes in. Yes, he has arguably the longest injury history of any player in the league, and I agree that he has done nothing to prove that he'll ever be an effective player in the league.
But he has talent. There was a reason he was a blue chip recruit coming out of high school and a high draft pick coming into the NBA.
If he can put together a healthy season, Oden has the size, strength and talent to be an elite post defender and rebounder. The best part is that you may be able to sign him for the mid-level exception or less.
And if he signs for more than that, then it's obvious I'm not so crazy saying that the Rockets should take a chance on him.
Michael Redd, like Oden, is a high-risk player. He has had his share of injuries, and it has been a few seasons since he was the Michael Redd we all remember fondly.
That being said, he would fill a nice role for the Rockets so long as he is willing to play that role. He would be a nice guy to have come off the bench with his ability to get hot from long range quickly.
The Rockets already have a similar player in Kevin Martin, but Redd would be good insurance should Martin go down with an injury.
He is an unrestricted free agent. If he takes the contract the market demands, he could be had for a reasonable amount of money. If he and his agent are going to wait around for a deal similar to the one he just finished, the Rockets should just focus on other targets.
Although the current rotation of power forwards has lessened the blow of losing a player like Carl Landry, the Rockets would certainly like to find someone who can do some of the things Landry does.
The Rockets still haven't found someone who can rebound and defend the post like Landry can. He isn't a defensive player on the level of Tyson Chandler or Dikembe Mutombo in his prime, but Landry has a great vertical leap and good instincts in the paint.
He is an unrestricted free agent, and the cash-conscious Hornets may not be looking to re-sign him. By all accounts, Landry enjoyed his time in Houston and if he voiced wishes to return to town, I'm sure the Rockets would do all they could to bring him back.
From the start, Chris Bosh felt like a square peg in a round hole in Miami. He was billed as the third player in the "Big Three," but he really isn't a player along the lines of a LeBron James or Dwyane Wade.
Quite frankly, the expectations for Bosh were much too high going into last season.
The Heat need a more physical player at the power forward position and could use the salary eaten up by Bosh on several different players that better give them what they need.
The Rockets tried with all their might to get Bosh to sign with them last offseason, and I wouldn't put it past Daryl Morey to try to work a trade to acquire Bosh.
If the Rockets were to acquire Jason Collins, it wouldn't push any Rockets fans to go out and buy season tickets. It wouldn't make national headlines and it wouldn't push the Rockets to the top of the list of title contenders.
It would give the Rockets exactly what they most need, though.
Collins is a big, physical center who doesn't care how much he touches the ball or scores. All he wants to do is defend, rebound and do everything he can to help the team win.
Collins' worth to a team isn't lost on NBA executives, but even still, he should be a relatively affordable option for the Rockets.
Kurt Thomas is similar to Collins in that he is an unspectacular player on paper who only cares about doing what is asked of him. He wins everywhere he goes, and he would bring the Rockets some much needed toughness and veteran leadership.
Thomas is getting long in the tooth and he won't give you much of anything in the way of scoring, but he is a great rebounder and is a tough, willing defender.
If the Rockets are serious about getting back into contention in the Western Conference, they will find a guy with the leadership skills of Kurt Thomas very valuable.
Nene's contract situation is a little unsettled as he has yet to announce whether or not he will be opting out of his current contract.
If he doesn't opt out of the deal, this is a worthless conversation. His choice to not opt out says that he is happy in Denver and is committed to playing there next season.
If he does opt out, though, the Rockets would be remiss if they didn't at least kick the tires on his interest in coming to Houston.
The lack of money spent will require another sign and trade deal, but those can be done.
Nene would give the Rockets a true center, something they haven't had since Yao was healthy. He is a solid rebounder and a physical defender. Nothing comes easy to opposing post players when Nene is in the game.
DeAndre Jordan is a restricted free agent of the Los Angeles Clippers, so if the Clippers are committed to keeping him in LA, he will be a tough get.
If he can be had, he is exactly what the doctor ordered. He is a young, athletic big that blocks shots, rebounds and plays hard every time out. He is only 22 years old, so there is a great chance that he still has a lot of potential he hasn't tapped.
Jordan is from Houston, so there is surely mutual interest in having him play for the Rockets.