Luis Scola & Kevin Martin.
The Houston Rockets will be under the helm of Kevin McHale for the 2011-12 NBA season and will look to Samuel Dalembert to help fill the void created by the retirement of Yao Ming and the departure of free agent Chuck Hayes to the Sacramento Kings. While Dalembert is a great short-term fit, he may not be the long-term answer.
The Rockets hope to make some movement in the tough Western Conference as General Manager Daryl Morey continues to search for a prized free agent to acquire and/or sign after missing out on both Pau Gasol and Nene in the offseason.
The Houston Rockets are returning their core group of top scorer Kevin Martin, forward Luis Scola guards Kyle Lowry and Courtney Lee. Rookies Marcus Morris, Chandler Parsons and possibly Donatas Motiejunas will get a chance to make a contribution due to the grind of the shortened season. The addition of center Samuel Dalembert is a great short-term pickup as he will provide shot-blocking and rebounding which the Rockets need and will allow for Jordan Hill and Hasheem Thabeet to play off the bench.
With this roster, the Rockets will most likely battle for a low-end playoff spot (in the sixth, seventh or eighth spot) which means that they would be facing the top team in the first round of the playoffs.
The summer of 2012 is a key one for the Rockets as they could look to bring in some big pieces to add to their current roster.
Could Dwight be Houston Bound?
General Manager Daryl Morey will make a legitimate offer for big man Dwight Howard who would be a huge pickup for the Rockets. They would finally be able to acquire a franchise caliber big man since drafting Yao Ming back in 2002.
The Rockets have future draft picks to give up along with an interesting mix of players although in order to acquire Howard, more teams would have to be recruited to pull it off. The Rockets would have to dangle a combination of players starting with Dalembert, Martin and Kevin Martin for the Magic to even give them a chance. Look for the Rockets to possibly acquire assets (future draft picks or expiring contracts) in order to add that to their Dwight Howard list.
The Rockets will be facing some stiff competition however when it comes to luring Dwight Howard out of Orlando.
General Manager Daryl Morey has a lot of pressure on him this season to make a key acquisition that will help the Rockets have a better opportunity to be contenders in the Western Conference. As hard as it is to do, so much time can be given to try and if nothing happens, then another person is brought into the mix and the cycle starts all over again.
Morey made the decision to hire McHale (given his long but sketchy background with the Timberwolves) although assistant coach Chris Finch is more likely destined to be the head coach in the long run.
It will be interesting to see what the Rockets choose to do as the season goes along in attracting free agents like Dwight Howard and Deron Williams as other teams also look to get their offers ready.