After a tough season that saw heavy criticism from all around, the Houston Rockets look towards NBA free agency, starting on July 1st, as a way to revamp an aging and dysfunctional roster by targeting everybody that's up for grabs. Reports around the league link the desperate Rockets team to every notable free agent available, ranging from ex-Charlotte point guard Jeremy Lin to the Thunder‘s Kevin Durant.
As free agency nears, Houston prepares for significant changes to the roster. Under new head coach Mike D'Antoni, the Rockets will most likely lose star center Dwight Howard to free agency following a horrific season from the 7-footer. During his last season with Houston, Howard averaged a meek 13.7 points per game, his lowest since his rookie season.
In order to replace their starting center, D'Antoni has turned his attention to veteran free agents such as Atlanta's star center Al Horford. With the amount of desperation coming from the Rockets' front office, Horford might find the long-term veteran max-contract he's searching for down in Houston. From Houston's perspective, Horford also fits into D'Antoni's “7-seconds or less” high-tempo offense as a stretch center that can both guard the paint and provide key jumpshots on the perimeter.
On the other hand, however, if the Rockets want to continue the two-big man rotation that brought some success under interim J.B. Bickerstaff, Horford can easily slide into a power forward position along side young Houston center Clint Capela. A Capela-Horford combination could provide a solid frontcourt to combine with superstar guard James Harden.
Another name on the shortlist for Houston is Harden's ex-teammate, Kevin Durant; however, the marquee free agent has yet to even schedule a face-to-face meeting with the Rockets' front office. While Durant's decision is far from clear, the Durant-to-Houston rumors prove more fantasy than real chatter around the league.
A direct replacement for Dwight Howard would be the younger phenom big man, Hassan Whiteside, who's made his openness to signing with a new team very well-known around the league. Whiteside owned the third-highest rebounds per game average at 11.8 last season, as well as 3.68 blocks per game, good for first in the league. Whiteside would basically fill the same role as Howard, but he provides more hope for chemistry alongside Harden
On the bright side for Houston, Jeremy Lin provides some hope for a roster boost in this upcoming free agency period. In an interview with the World Economic Forum this past weekend, Lin stated that he would “exhaust every opportunity to see which one will be the best for me,” while not ruling out a return to his prior teams. Lin could provide key role support for the Rockets, who signed him to a $25 million contract after his breakout 2012 season with the Knicks.
Ultimately, however, the Rockets now look to avoid a total rebuilding season and provide some sort of elite support for Harden in this upcoming free agency. However, as of right now, Houston's position in the free agent market looks desperate from all angles.
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