Pike is nice but no replacement for Posey.
James Posey is the lone forward we have that provides a serious defensive presence and rebounds above average for his position due to his length and athleticism. I do like the Pike signing, but I see Pike a back-up replacement for when Rice is done with a secondary role as occasional back up 2--nothing more. Posey is also 26, Pike 32--so there also is a big difference in who can stay with the core of our team in the mid and long term.
Worst 2 deep bookend in the league won’t cut it.
If we were to go into the season with EG/Mot and Rice/Pike as the two deep at the 3 & 4 we simply will present the leagues #1 butter defense. It is simply neither athletic nor strong enough at either spot to keep us from getting killed. And neither Hawkins or Tmo (if we resign him) are the answers--either are pretty good 9th, 10th men--but don't fool yourself that either has shown they can give you 24MPG without showing major flaws against most of the NBA competition. Boki has shown even less at the NBA level--he looks another 2 years away if he is ever to hang as a starter in the NBA (being objective, much less than a 50/50 proposition).
slim picking in free agency or out of our price league
I have also looked at the FA list for 3s we might be able to get for 1 mil or less. The most proven players that might be available are Adrian "no O" Griffin, Lee "no D" Nailon, and Bryan "I left my shot in Chicago" Russell. However if we won't be willing to spend 5 mil for Posey--it makes me think we would not likely spend 3 for Pike and 1.5 for one of them, therefore I am not sure we could get them, and even if we do, we are talking about players with major holes in their games. Nonetheless if any would sign for a mil it would be better than standing pat, I guess. How about unproven youngsters with some potential? From my list Donnell Harvey, Demarr and Bobby Simmons have some athleticism or length and are 23 or less--I guess worth a shot as their potential are all higher than say Tmos even if they might not be better than Tmo right now. Maybe the Nugs Chris Andersen has more potential than Tmo also--I can't really say about him (tall and rebounds well for his PT). You can scratch J Jackson, J Jones (RFA) and S Jack, forget them (all who would be good additions honestly), because of their price. Like I said if we are not willing to match Posey we are not going to spend the 2-5 mil per year to get in these guys ballpark either.
So where does that leave us? Is it saving money or being serious about a playoff caliber team If winning is the highest priority for the Rockets they MUST act to shore up our forwards. We need at least one 3 or 4 who matches up well athletically against most his counterparts—having two that can’t hang will just present too many mismatches day in and day out. The simplest move is to match Posey. I still think it is quite possible, we are dragging Memphis along with a surprise waiting for them. James Posey in a 4 year deal starting at 4.7 mil simply is not a bad contract compared to other 26 year old decent 3s in the league.
If indeed Posey is let go, we must trade to upgrade a forward spot
If Posey is gone, and we are serious about winning we must have a trade in the pipeline. Some combination of Cato, Mot, EG, Rice, Boki, and even Cat (Pike is a better replacement for him than a regular 3) need to be moved for an above average starting NBA forward who is long, athletic and/or physical and his position, (or at least one who potentially is such a player being very young and athletic even if raw last year). Maybe Brian Grant, maybe Ratliff, maybe Tim Thomas, maybe Dunleavy, maybe Desmond Mason, maybe Wilcox, maybe Battier, maybe Swift, maybe E. Jones, maybe Bender, maybe Donyell Marshall, maybe Jermain Jones, maybe A Harrington. If we are really reaching high--and it might be feasible (EG and/or Cat have serious trade value)--maybe SAR, Sheed, Jamison, or Odom. But something must happen between now and the start of the season--be it James Posey or a trade, otherwise it is a pretty big cloud that Les is going to spend enough to ever have the quality supporting cast needed around Yao and Francis.
That’s all I got.