The Rockets have jump started their rebuild following the third overall selection of Jabari Smith. They also recently made news by agreeing to a buyout with John Wall. With just 37 combined wins over the past two seasons and a slew of young talent now assembled, it is time for the Rockets to begin taking strides in the positive direction. While they are still several years away from being a true contender, the franchise should begin searching for complementary pieces to put around the core.
Houston currently has $135.6 million in salary on the cap for next season. This means they have $46.7 million in maximum cap space available to them according to Spotrac. The main franchise pieces are already on the roster. The team will likely not be interested in targeting high-end free agents. However, this flexibility allows them to take some bigger risks on players who could pay off in the long run. With free agency set to begin, here are two names that the Rockets should look into.
2 players Rockets must sign in 2022 NBA free agency
The Los Angeles Lakers were an extremely disappointing team last season. However, the largest bright spot was the impressive play of Malik Monk. After falling out of good graces with the Charlotte Hornets, Monk took a one-year veterans minimum ($1.8 million) with the Lakers. Monk was able to prove his worth. He averaged 13.8 points, 3.4 rebounds, and 2.9 assists per game. Each of these numbers was a career-high for the Kentucky product. He also shot 39.1% from beyond the three-point arc on a career-high 5.8 attempts per game.
Despite the minimum contract, Monk was the Lakers' most consistent partner to LeBron James last year. The shooting guard had some memorable performances where he stepped into the spotlight for Los Angeles. He set a new career-high by pouring in 41 points in a victory over the Nuggets. He showed glimpses of the player he promised to be coming out of college. The Lakers have made it clear that they would love to have Monk back next season. But, they would need him to take a pay cut once again.
While there is a chance he really enjoyed it in Los Angeles and would be willing to do this, Monk’s intentions heading into last year seemed to be to rebuild his value. He did an excellent job of this and the Rockets are in a position where they can reward him on the open market. He is just 24 years old and would be an excellent piece to add alongside Jalen Green and Jabari Smith. Monk flashed some real star potential in his one-and-done season at Kentucky which is what has made the start to his NBA career so disappointing. His career is far from over and giving Monk an opportunity to grow with the young Rockets core could be perfect for both sides.
After being drafted 2nd overall in the 2018 draft, Marvin Bagley has had an incredibly disappointing start to his NBA career. The Duke product flashed intriguing athleticism and versatility in college. Bagley was portrayed as a perfect fit as the modern NBA big man, but this has not proven to be the case. There were some promising signs at the start of his NBA career. Bagley was even named to the All-Rookie First Team in 2018-19 after averaging 14.9 points and 7.6 rebounds. He began to regress following his rookie year with decreased production across each statistical category. After three and a half seasons with the Sacramento Kings, the 6’11” big man was traded to the Pistons last year.
There is certainly plenty of room for growth in his game, but Bagley showed some promising signs in Detroit. Across 18 games he averaged 14.6 points, 6.8 rebounds, and 1.1 assists in 27.2 minutes of play. Bagley was in need of a fresh start and benefitted from his time in Detroit. With him now being a free agent, the 23-year-old will be in search of a more long-term home.
Bringing him to Houston with little pressure would be an intriguing idea. It is unlikely that any team is lining up to add Marvin Bagley as a stater. The Rockets could add him to their young core and hope he develops as an intriguing backup to Jabari Smith and Alperen Sengun. Bagley would be a low-risk high-reward move that could pay off for the Rockets. The youthful core still has plenty of room to add talent and Bagley would fit this mold. While he is not quite the veteran leader the team will eventually need, adding a player with experience for Jabari Smith to learn from would prove to be beneficial.