The Ming dynasty is officially over in Houston, what's next for Rocket fans?
Making a few deals might involve giving away one of their better players like Luis Scola or Kevin Martin, but would put them in a much better position to steal a playoff spot.
Houston lacked defense last year overall, giving up 103.7 points a game, so it is apparent they could use a defensive presence.
That isn't the only way they could go to build a contender, but anyway you put it there is work to do.
Let's look at some possible fuel for the Rockets.
One of the best free agents this off season, Gasol could fill a huge void in the Rockets' front court.
He brings a much needed big frame, and has the potential to be one of the better big men in a rather slim talent pool.
Gasol was down a little statistically last year, but showed improvements in other aspects of the game.
He is not the best athlete in the world, but isn't your typical finesse European big man either. Gasol can grab 10 plus rebounds any night, giving the Rockets a force down low.
The Grizzlies will most likely match any offer that isn't out of their comfort zone, so prying him away could involve a sign and trade. Even if Memphis doesn't match an offer, Gasol is likely to make bank.
Tyson Chandler was a force down low for Dallas last season. Now he has decided to test the free agent market.
Houston wasn't great defensively last year, but with Chuck Hayes controlling the paint, it left a big weakness.
Chandler is more of a defensive threat than offensive. He can challenge and alter shots, plus bring in rebounds.
However, he isn't bad offensively. Chandler isn't a post up player, but can create important second chance opportunities and has authority while throwing down an oop.
He runs the floor well, giving Houston some much needed front court athleticism.
If Houston is willing to fork up some money, Chandler could be a great fit.
Another big man the Rockets could consider is the Bulls' Carlos Boozer.
Boozer disappointed in Chicago before even stepping on the court. In the off season, Boozer suffered a freak injury, breaking his hand and leaving him on the sidelines when the season started.
The power forward didn't have a bad year statistically in 2011, but his points and rebounds were still down from his previous great years in Utah.
Being big and physical would help Houston in many ways, and Boozer is a scorer who can knock down a mid-range jump shot.
Although the Bulls secured a top seed, he found himself on the bench during many key situations during their pivotal series against the Heat.
Maybe a trip back west is best for Boozer. Seeing as how the Bulls desperately need a scoring shooting guard. Could Kevin Martin help push the Bulls to the NBA Finals?
The Memphis Grizzlies showed a lot of heart in the 2011 post season, knocking off the top-seeded San Antonio Spurs and putting up a seven-game brawl against OKC. Unfortunately for Rudy Gay, he was absent due to injury.
Gay could end up on the trading block, and while Houston put up a lot of points last year, having the all-around offensive threat they need could make a difference.
Kevin Martin has been a true asset to Houston, but being a one dimensional star is not the best thing for his team. The pure scorer would be better off as a role player paired with an elite star.
This is where Rudy Gay comes in.
Gay is an athletic forward out of UCONN, who still has plenty of room for growth and potential. He is a dangerous finisher in the open, and can also draw attention while not driving.
Gay would also give Houston a lengthy forward who can rebound well and block shots.
With the right team around these two, they could create one of the better duos in the NBA.
While a trade scenario would be hard to figure out for Gay, this is a budding star Houston should look into. But would Memphis be willing to deal such a big name within the division?
Being just 25, Smith has never made an all-star team, but remains one of the most versatile, athletic big men in the NBA.
Smith is one of the best stat sheet fillers in the game, and with a change of scenery could be a major threat in the wild, wild west.
Smith gives Houston the defensive presence needed to be a contender, and contributes well offensively with his powerful inside play.
The Hawks have made it clear that Smith is available, and if the price is right the Rockets could be the lucky team to acquire him.
With the team Houston has now they can compete for a playoff spot next year. However, if they want to make a deep playoff run they will have to acquire some much needed help.
They could go the free agency route, but it's slim pickings as far as their team needs go.
The Rockets have plenty of good role players and potential young stars. Odds are they will have to part ways with a few of them to get a needed player, but it's for the best.
Names like Patrick Patterson and Chase Budinger are expendable, while names like Luis Scola or Kevin Martin will be needed to land a star caliber player.
Kyle Lowry was great for Houston last year, leading the team to 23.8 assists per game, a league best. While not the best point guard in the league, he is someone Houston should not include in a trade deal.
Without the monumental contract of Yao holding them down, they have plenty of room to make a move if they decide so. If not, they could finish just outside of the playoff picture.
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