When you think about the best players who have ever dawned the Houston Rockets jersey, the first names that come to mind are Hakeem Olajuwon, Moses Malone, or maybe even James Harden for the younger generations. These are just some of the greats that have made their marks on the franchise in one way or another.
There have been, however, a fair amount of guys that were not able to make as big an impact on the team as the aforementioned trio. While these players did have successful careers in their own rights, their respective stints with the Rockets have been set aside in the memories of most basketball fans.
We start things off with Vin Baker, a 6-foot-11 center/power forward who established himself as one of the best big men in the league during the 1990’s to early 2000’s. Baker, a four-time All-Star and two-time All-NBA team member, had a 13-year career that extended all the way to 2006.
One of the final stops of his tenure was an extremely brief stint with Houston. In the middle of the 2004-05 campaign, the New York Knicks traded Baker to the Rockets. To say that he made an insignificant impact on the Rockets would be a complete understatement.
All in all, Baker was only able to play a grand total of three games for Houston. He produced averages of 0.7 points and 0.7 rebounds in just 4.3 minutes per contest. The Rockets waived him prior to the start of the succeeding campaign, and it is needless to say that Baker’s time in Houston constitutes the worst stint of his entire career.
Goran Dragic was named in the All-Star team during the 2017-18 season while playing for the Miami Heat. At that time, he was one of the top point guards in the league. He wasn’t exactly the same caliber player during his time with the Rockets early in his career.
After spending the first two and a half seasons of his career with the Phoenix Suns, the 6-foot-3 combo guard and his way to Houston in 2011 via trade. Dragic spent a season and a half with the Rockets, averaging 10.7 points, 2.5 rebounds, 4.6 assists, and 1.1 steals, mostly as part of the team’s second unit.
In the summer of 2012, Dragic walked away from the Rockets as a free agent, and ironically, the team he signed with was the Suns.
Marcus Camby made a name for himself as a defensive specialist during the 2000s. As a matter of fact, he was one of the best defenders in the league in his prime, once being awarded the Defensive Player of the Year award.
Camby had a long career that spanned 17 full seasons. Towards the tail end of his career, he had a brief stint with the Rockets. He was traded to Houston by the Portland Trail Blazers in exchange for Jonny Flynn, Hasheem Thabeet, and a future draft pick in 2012.
Camby may have already been 37 at that time, but he was still able to put up impressive numbers for the Rockets — a testament to the 6-foot-11 big man’s longevity. In just 19 games for the Rockets (Houston traded him to the New York Knicks the following summer), the former four-time All-Defensive team member averaged 7.1 points, 9.3 rebounds, 1.7 assists, and 1.5 blocks in 24.1 minutes per game.
Mark Jackson made a tremendous impact on the league as soon as he arrived as a 22-year-old rookie with the New York Knicks. By his sophomore year, he was a bona fide All-Star. Oddly enough, the 6-foot-1 point guard was unable to build on that tremendous campaign moving forward. That turned doubt to be the peak of his career — from a statistical standpoint, at least — and he was never able to duplicate that highly-impressive season-long performance throughout his career.
Jackson played for no less than seven different NBA teams during his 17-year career. His last and final destination happened to be Houston. The Rockets signed a 38-year-old Jackson to a one-year deal, which resulted in him producing 2.5 points, 1.7 rebounds, and 2.8 assists in just 13.7 minutes per contest. Jackson knew his time was up after that forgettable year, deciding to call it a career after that single season in Houston.
Avery Johnson — a diminutive 5-foot-10 point guard who despite his size, made sure he was able to make an impact on the floor — is best known for his stint with the San Antonio Spurs. He played a pivotal role for the squad, serving as the team’s starting point guard for that memorable 1999 championship run. Johnson’s time with the Rockets, however, is not really something we could describe similarly.
Johnson came to Houston in 1992 after being waived by the Spurs. He put pen to paper on an initial 10-day deal with the Rockets, and eventually secured a rest-of-the-season contract soon after. We can’t fault most fans for forgetting about how Johnson was actually once a Rocket, considering how he averaged just 5.1 points and 3.4 rebounds in 46 games played.
The Rockets let Johnson walk as a free agent the following summer, opting to re-sign with the Spurs.