A year and a half after the blockbuster James Harden trade, the Houston Rockets are still aiming for a brighter future rather than trying to compete in the present. The team traded away its 2021-22 leading scorer in Christian Wood for the No. 26 pick in the draft, and that wound up turning into TyTy Washington Jr. after another trade.
Trading Wood might give more opportunities to young players such as Usman Garuba and Alperen Şengün, as well to this year's No. 3 pick Jabari Smith. Because of that, the team has not been very active in terms of signing new players to the roster, only signing one undrafted rookie, as well as keeping an important rotation player from the last couple of seasons.
With that said, here are the grades for the Rockets' most notable free agent signings thus far.
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Houston Rockets 2022 NBA Free Agency Grades
Jae'Sean Tate's 3-year, $22.1 million deal: B+
Securing Jae'Sean Tate has been the most notable signing of the free agency in Houston so far. The 2021 All-Rookie First-Team member signed a new deal worth $22.1 million for the next three seasons.
After spending two years overseas, Tate joined Houston with hopes to earn his place in the NBA. In two seasons, the small forward averaged 11.6 points and 5.4 rebounds while shooting over 50% from the field.
At 26 years old, the former Ohio State Buckeye is a bit older than some of the key pieces of the Rockets' squad (Smith is 19, Jalen Green and Josh Christopher are both 20). Tate has already proved that he can play at an NBA level, and the Rockets seem to be believe that is the case as well. However, the question is how Tate will fit in the team's future.
By drafting Smith and rookie Tari Eason showing some potential in Summer League, Tate might not have as many minutes as he had in the past. The veteran will have to battle to show the coaching staff he can still play a significant role on a team full of young pieces that play at the same position as Tate.
Trevor Hudgins' two-way deal: B
After going undrafted last month, Trevor Hudgins signed a two-way deal with Houston, meaning he will split his time in the NBA and in the G League with the Rio Grande Valley Vipers.
The point guard played at Northwest Missouri State and led the team to three consecutive national NCAA Division II championships, while also averaging over 20.0 points on 51-46-87 splits throughout his collegiate career. He left the program as the most decorated player in Division II history.
On a team with Green, Christopher, Kevin Porter Jr. and Washington, Hudgins will have a tough time finding minutes this upcoming season. However, players such as the Miami Heat's Duncan Robinson also played in lower NCAA divisions, signed two-way deals out of college and eventually earned their places in the league. So, if history says something, Hudgins could become a valuable asset to this young and rebuilt Houston team.
Overall, the Rockets have been very quiet in free agency. It seems the team is satisfied with what they already have and what they got in draft night. There will be some smaller moves to fill out the roster, and we'll see what happens with veterans such as Dennis Schroder (free agent) and Eric Gordon (trade rumors) after another key veteran in Wood was already traded. The focus in Houston is obviously on the young players, and there are a whole lot of them on this roster to develop.