NBA Free Agents 2012: 6 Reasons Houston Rockets Should Keep Their Free Agents
Going into the offseason, the Rockets should have one goal: to keep their free agents, and not only for depth purposes. Their contract-less players need to be resigned—most notably Goran Dragic and Marcus Camby—if they want to compete for a postseason appearance.
The Houston Rockets, once considered a lock for a playoff bid, experienced a meltdown of epic proportions. With only a few weeks left in the season, the Rockets were the favorites to become the sixth seed in their grueling conference's playoffs. This was quite a surprise and accomplishment, as many expected the roster to struggle due to the lack of a clear star and playoff experience.
But despite not deterring from the challenge at the beginning of the truncated season, the Rockets went on a 1-7 slide, officially knocking them out of postseason contention. While their relevancy in the playoff chase did shock the NBA community, there is no denying the unfortunate fact that changes within the organization are a necessity.
However, major alterations are not needed for this franchise. Their roster is already laden with talent and depth. Unlike the Charlotte Bobcats or Washington Wizards, the Rockets have a playoff-ready squad that has the potential to strike fear in the eyes of opposing teams.
So, what modifications should the Rockets' brass pursue? Well, besides acquiring a clear star, the brass must maintain their free agents.
Maintain Their Top-Tier Depth
Maintaining their fantastic depth is absolutely crucial for the Houston Rockets if they want to acquire a playoff berth in the 2012-13 season. After all, their plethora of talented players at every position is arguably their most valuable asset and was no doubt a deciding factor in many of the team's victories.
Playing in the high-speed Western Conference, an excess of competent role players at the Rocket's disposal would allow the team to play at a high level without worrying about fatigue. Other than the Denver Nuggets, the Rockets undoubtedly possess the deepest roster in the NBA.
Just look at the number of quality forwards on the squad. The consistent Luis Scola, athletic Chase Budinger and Courtney Lee headline the group with young guns Patrick Patterson, Marcus Morris and Chandler Parsons rounding it out.
While the Rockets do need a clear star—and acquiring one would undoubtedly cause them to lose some of their prized depth—the franchise must do everything possible to keep most of their core.
Obviously, this starts with re-signing both Goran Dragic and Marcus Camby.
Neither Goran Dragic and Marcus Camby will command too much money in free agency, yet another reason to retain these athletes.
Camby, who is an elder at 38 years old, is not searching for a long-term contract. Additionally, the crafty, defensive-minded veteran wants to stay in Houston. I doubt the center would turn down a three-year, $12-million contract. The Rockets may even be able to convince him to sign the veteran's minimum.
Dragic, on the other hand, will most likely be more expensive. The effective facilitator is younger, possesses more potential and is more valuable to the team's future plans. However, with the plethora of talent at the point guard position, Dragic won't receive much more money than a multi-year contract worth the full mid-level exception.
Considering that the Rockets possess a young team with tons of cap space, there is no doubt that they can shell out this type of money to keep two important pieces to their puzzle.
Uncertainty Regarding Kyle Lowry's Future with Rockets
Obviously, this pertains solely to Goran Dragic, as he was Kyle Lowry's backup throughout this season.
Earlier this week, Kyle Lowry voiced his displeasure with coach Kevin McHale. The breakout point guard went as far to say that he doesn't believe the two can ever coexist.
“I don’t think so,” Lowry, 26, said. “I honestly think it would be tough. Things have to be addressed. The situation would have to be addressed. If things aren't addressed coaching-wise, I guess I have to be moved."
While Lowry was a major part of the Rockets' surprising success this year, he isn't the only competent facilitator on the roster. Goran Dragic is a more-than-viable option to take on the starting point guard role.
Additionally, Lowry has an extensive injury history, something Houston must be considering with this current debacle. Just a few weeks ago, Lowry had surgery to repair a sports hernia and torn abductor muscles.
16 years in the NBA
10 postseason appearances
NBA Defensive Player of the Year in 2007
Six different team associations
Marcus Camby epitomizes experience in the NBA. On a roster filled with young prospects, Camby's vast time in the NBA is quite valuable to the Houston organization. After all, the Rockets don't want their rising talent turning into a undisciplined team (like the Sacramento Kings).
The defensive-specializing journeyman is a consummate professional with a tremendous work ethic. His heart and hustle is contagious and will absolutely help the Rockets return to postseason action.
Oklahoma City Thunder
The Oklahoma City Thunder are on a fast track to dominance. With four star players—Sixth Man of the Year Award recipient James Harden, ultra-athletic Serge Ibaka, scoring guard Russell Westbrook and lanky Kevin Durant—under 23 years old on the roster, this franchise is glistening with rising talent.
Two consecutive Western Conference finals appearances and a plethora of regular-season successes, this team is proving to have the tools to turn into a dynasty.
This, in turn, should have other West organizations wanting to put all their eggs in the proverbial basket in the next few seasons before the Thunder fully develop.
Signing both Dragic and Camby would keep the Rockets competitive every night, starting off a rebuilding phase.
Contributions Last Season
The Houston Rockets have one of the deepest squads in the entire Association. But even with the immense talent on the roster, Goran Dragic and Marcus Camby still stood out as valuable contributors last season.
Camby, who was traded to Houston in a deadline deal from Portland, averaged seven points and nine rebounds per contest in 19 games. What is most impressive with this feat is that the veteran only played 24 minutes per night, sharing time at the center position with the younger Samuel Dalembert.
Dragic, on the other hand, excelled when Kyle Lowry went down with an injury. The 6'3" 26-year-old scored in double digits 27 times in the final 28 games of the condensed regular-season, including a tremendous 26 points and 11 assists effort against the Los Angeles Lakers in March.
In addition, Dragic had his best season of his career, averaging nearly 12 points and five assists per game, coming off the bench.