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The Look Ahead (long)

Discussion in 'Houston Rockets: Game Action & Roster Moves' started by NIKEstrad, May 8, 2005.

  1. NIKEstrad

    NIKEstrad Contributing Member
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    I guess I'll go into my futures analysis in this thread. I was originally going to post it elsewhere, but it kind of, ahem, long.

    -I think we all knew the weakspots of this team were speed on the perimeter and with or without Howard, not enough talent at the 4 (amplified 10 fold by Howard's injury). Sura, even healthy, isn't exactly a quick point guard, and Wesley at this age is barely quick enough to stay in front of 2s. I mentioned it after we made the deal, but the perceived speed improvement was as much about how slow Jim Jackson was and being able to move TMac to the (slower) 3s as it was about Wesley's speed.

    -Hopefully surgery will be good to Sura. A couple years ago, and at points this year, he was able to get into the lanes at will for little floaters and layups. I don't think he dribbled inside the defense at all this series. Part of it was Terry is a lot quicker than he is, but I think a healthy Sura goes to the basket at least a few times in this series. He wasn't ripping boards with his usual tenacity, and e was reduced to a spot up shooter. Sura was not well. I'm not sure if surgery will reverse this process or only prevent even further deteriation. We'll see. He can be a nice roleplayer if he can stay healthy. I think those heavy minutes we had to put on him in the pre-Mike James era caught up to him.

    -Regarding everyone's favorite German league player (at least one that can shoot 35%, unlike one I know) and our other European...foreigners are tricky players to predict. Some blow up like Parker, Ginobili, and Udrih to a lesser extent. Others fizzle like Tskitishvili. On the surface, these two players fit our needs (speed, athleticism, size) extremely well. How they'll perform in the NBA is anybody's guess.

    -I think Yao and TMac learned a lot about each other in the playoffs. It took a long time for the team to figure out that quick passes aren't really necessary for Yao- for most players, the window of opportunity for the pass is longer than the window of opportunity for an open shot. Any shot near the basket is a good shot for Yao. You can lob it up to Yao, let him catch, let the defense be able to position...and it just doesn't matter. I don't know why it took us 88 games for us to figure this out, but it did. Expect for Yao to have fewer dropped passes, not because his hands are better, but the passes are softer. He's ready to break out.

    The Draft
    Obviously, with a mid 20s pick, you can't assume success. With a pick in this range, I'd think our best bet is to go for BAA- best athlete available with basketball ability. The only 2 really athletic players we have are McGrady and James. No Chris Porters. You should be able to find a 6-6 or 6-7 athlete with a semblance of dribble penetration ability or maybe a spot up shooter. I wouldn't be surprised if we use the pick as bait in a big pre-draft reloading move. This draft is loaded with 4s, so certainly if the right one slipped to us, which very well could happen, that'd be great. In addition, it could be possible to move up if we have a target. Based on CD and JVG's history, a move out is more likely, but the possibilities are out there.

    Free agency, big men

    Stromile Swift: I like him a lot, but think he'll be difficult to obtain. He has the mid range game, youth, and athleticism that makes us all want him. I question his heart, but if he forces a sign and trade to a winner, or just signs with a team with a nucleus like ours, it'll make me feel better about it.

    Shareef Abdur-Rahim: I like SAR more than most. He has an
    outstanding midrange game and can put the ball on the ground. He's basically Juwan Howard improved across the board- better scorer, rebounder, younger, quicker, more athletic.

    Antoine Walker: is another interesting case. He is a good shooter, has a post game, is a terrific scorer, and a very good rebounder, especially on the defensive glass (our achilles heel). The problems are he's lazy on defense (though his blocks/steals numbers suggest he's capable of being ok), and likes to shoot. A lot. If his shot selection could be cured, his passing, rebounding, and scoring skills, and even his ball handling would make him a lethal 3rd option. With Boston's first round exit, they may not take him back, and there'll be very few playoff teams who would touch him.

    Reggie Evans/Udonis Haslem: I don't think Evans or Haslem are acquirable due to RFA status.

    Donyell Marshall: Fallback plan. I think this showed we need a little more than a simple spot up shooter out of the 4. Marshall can play some help D, but is a piss poor man defender.

    Other: Chandler would be another dream, but also probably out of the realm. Kwame seems veru attainable, but I can't see JVG touching him. Dalembert has more value to other teams.

    Retaining Mutombo is a key, and I think it's a given.

    Free agency, perimeter

    Marko Jaric: I really like him. He's a restricted free agent, not getting much pub, and may be expendable on the Clips perimeter of Livingston-Maggette-Simmons. (Note- a sign and trade of Wesley for Jaric would seem to make sense on a number of levels both ways. Wesley would be a good match in the backcourt for a young PG). I'd play him at the 2, but he has PG handles, is a great passer, creates turnovers on D, and is a lethal shooter. He's not the most athletic or quickest defender, so I'm not sure how much that hurts him.

    Jeff McInnis: would be nice as well, but the Cavs have the inside track. Would give us something closer to a legit PG.

    Antonio Daniels: Has seriously boosted his stock. Getting a little older, but he's still a PG who takes care of the ball, makes plays, hits shots, and is a very good defender. CD's liked him for awhile.

    Dermarr Johnson: seems a little unappreciated in Denver (due to inconsistent play) may help us get younger and add athleticism along with a good shooter. Denver is empty at the 2 however, so they have increased need to maybe keep him.

    Earl Watson: Memphis has some choices to make. Watson had a supbar year. He's a good defender, below average shooter. He had an off year imo- his assists were down, and turnovers up.

    Joe Johnson: Pipe dream.

    Damon Stoudamire, Nick Van Exel: They're older, but both can still get inside the lane and knock down the perimeter shot. They're also pretty reliable taking the ball up the court, and occasionally erratic once up the court.

    Latrell Sprewell: I could see JVG wanting to take him back, and I could see him ready to leave Minny. I don't see him getting a big money contract that he wants. I think he's still athletic and tough enough to solve some of our perimeter problems we faced in this series, but I question his jump shot.

    Cuttino Mobley: I'd take him back. Deadly shooter, Handles to relieve ball handling responsibility, and quickness we really miss. I don't think he wants to come back, and I don't think JVG would take him back.

    Bonzi Wells: Curious player. He's got the requisite athleticism, youth, and can even hit the jumper (though really streaky). Very much a headcase, though.

    Greg Buckner, Adrian Griffin, Raja Bell: Putting them together. They're really the only 3 wings in this free agency class (Buckner has an opt.) with resumes known for defense. I could see us bringing Griffin back or going after Buckner. Bell would be the best- he's a tough, tough defender and can bury the triple.

    Korver, Jacobsen: I don't think Korver is what this team needs. He's a great shooter, but doesn't help the perimeter D or athleticism. Being restricted, I don't think we can land him.

    Bobby Jackson: If he were 5 years younger, he'd be great. Great defender, deadly shooter, able to bring the ball up the court. Think David Wesley with plus athleticism and confident handles. But he's on the other side of 30 now, and a has horrible injury history. I don't think we should go after him.

    Other: There's no shortage of bench shooters (Jacobsen, Rush, Kapono, Pargo, Person, and our own Barry).

    I think we keep Jon Barry, but game 7 for some reason casts some more doubt on it in my mind...he certainly is a contributor to the small, unathletic perimeter play. We can't afford to tilt the scale the other direction, however, so I'd give odds he stays, but wouldn't be surprised if we let him move on.

    Trades
    Our greatest assets are our expiring contracts. Wesley, Baker, Norris, and Weatherspoon represent $19 million in expiring contracts. The teams to target to pawn these assets are: teams with heavy longterm cap obligations and teams that performed poorly this past year and want to explode their team. Obviously, Yao and TMac are untouchable. Howard may be moved in a large package deal. Sura is a questionable player to deal because I think teams aren't sure if he's a 1 or a 2 or how he'll come back from surgery, plus he was such a huge contributor. I see us keeping Mike James, but if opportunities arise to alter the composition of our bench, I could see him being moved.

    Memphis - It is semi-blasphemous to trade with a Western Conference foe, but there are whispers they're ready to make some moves. They have heavy, heavy cap obligations, and Swift, Watson, and Wells (team option) are both free agents. Jason Williams had another blow up. Memphis is full of athletic wings (Mike Miller, Bonzi Wells, Posey, Battier, Dahntay Jones). Mike Miller also happens to be TMac's best friend. Would you take the chance on Jason Williams? I almost think I would. He's really quick, can handle the ball, and is actually really good spotting up from what I've seen- his percentages are hurt when he tries to shoot more off the dribble. If he came in a package with Mike Miller, I think I'd take him. Memphis could get out of a ton of cap troubles. Maybe something to the extent of Juwan Howard, David Wesley, and Clarence Weatherspoon for Brian Cardinal, Jason Williams, and Mike Miller.

    Memphis is the team that makes the most sense to me. Other players that I could see us going after due to their availability...

    Morris Peterson: The right mix of athleticism, youth, and shooting. Toronto seems like they'll make some moves. No idea of MoPete's availability, but I 'd think anyone not named Bosh would be.

    Carlos Boozer: Not the biggest of fans, but I could definitely see Utah moving him for cap flexibility- which we can afford. If we strike out elsewhere, I see us going in this direction.

    Zach Randolph/Darius Miles: Portland is another team overloaded with misfits and bad contracts. Miles fixes the athleticism but can't shoot to save his life. Randolph solves the rebounding, but can't defend/pass and isn't ideal for the midrange jumper.

    Ron Artest: After seeing what TMac can do, could you imagine the defensive nightmares these two could create with Yao/Deke behind them (plus gasp, a shotblocking 4? Yikes!)? I don't know how it'd be possible unless Indiana just is fed up with him. I'd think they'd want at least a little talent in return, and/or we'd have to take Croshere and/or Bender off their hands. I'd do it in an instant.

    Jason Kidd: Just saying something because of the rumor. Not gonna happen. Would eliminate flexibility to put any sort of supporting cast around them. We're already dealing with one creaky kneed PG.

    Caron Butler: Could be odd man out in LA. Would have to be part of some 3 way, as Lakers probably aren't really looking for cap.

    Mark Blount: Who? Yeah, I know. But sometimes you'd watch a game and think "how can we get a guy who is lethal mid range shooter and can also alter shots defensively?" Boston overpaid for him last summer, and he's been pretty MIA for them with the exception of being dusted off to light us up on the aforementioned midrange jumper. Could easily be had straight up for Weatherspoon, imo, because of his contract situation and Boston's bigs situation. Lafrentz could also be had, but his commitment is worse.

    That's all for now. I'm sure I missed something. Our supporting cast will get a talent upgrade, that's for sure.
     
  2. Mack

    Mack Contributing Member

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    Great post. I was especially wondering what our trade bargaining chips were. I didn't realize we had 19 mill in expiring contracts. Maybe we can get some value out of Baker, Norris, and Spoon.
     
  3. bu2002

    bu2002 Contributing Member

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    The issue is just gonna be if the rockets have the resources to make changes. With only a MLE and a lower first round pick, it get be really tough because i really count the rockets truly needing 3 new starters and a backup swingman.

    C: Yao
    PF: New Starter
    SF: McGrady
    SG: New Starter
    PG: New Starter

    Backup PG: Mike James
    Backup C: Mutombo
    Backup PF: Juwan Howard
    Backup SG/SF: new bench guy

    The rockets should aim for a 9 man rotation next year with a 10th guy being sprinkled in under certain circumstances(unforseen foul trouble or injury during the course of a game, special matchups. etc...). But they need a serious talent upgrade with regard to overall speed and athleticism. I think a legit starting PG will be the most difficult. Im clueless as to what direction they can take there.

    But if you're serious about winning an NBA championship, Sura, Wesley, Barry, Padgett, and Bowen aren't gonna cut it as top 8 players in your rotation. They are stop gaps at this stage of their careers and shouldn't be playing 35 minutes/game in the playoffs.

    Chances are the rockets won't be able to fill all their needs and might be lucky to just fill two. CD needs to work some magic, but it'll be fun to see what he can do.
     
  4. rday

    rday Contributing Member

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    Good post, good thoughts.

    Outside of expiring contracts we don't much to deal this offseason. Free agency will be of major importance this year. I hope management isn't so narrow minded as to focus in on just a few players at 2 positions; we need value and talent at every position and all quality players should be considered.

    Mike Miller would be really nice.
     
  5. DaDakota

    DaDakota If you want to know, just ask!

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    Add Ward in there as well as his 3rd year is team option and it goes up to 21 million in expiring contracts.

    Of course all of this is null and void without a new CBA that is close to the same perameters as the last one.

    DD
     
  6. studogg

    studogg Contributing Member

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    as far as trades are concerned, i think a blackhorse candidate noone is thinking about could be Carlos Boozer. He's worn out his welcome in Utah, they already have Kirilenko and Okur and will be looking to draft the Australian. I could see them taking a pick and expiring contracts to get out of their perceived mistake.

    My only real question about this is whether they would want to do a trade that could make the rockets better.
     
  7. Dr of Dunk

    Dr of Dunk Clutch Crew

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    In my opinion the answer would be "no". You're giving the Rockets three cornerstones in building a powerhouse of a team. Those cornerstones would be in their mid-20's at the start of next season. Any team that the Jazz put together would be around the same age, so they would be battling the team they helped the Rockets to build for the next 8-10 years.

    But then I've seen sillier things happen, I suppose...
     
  8. krocket

    krocket Contributing Member

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    I like the Artest+ option, even if we don't do anything else. That alone could move us up several notches in the west. With a draft choice, Vasoullis, and a certain German League player (who can also play C) to round out the rotation we can make it through until all those contracts actually run out. Artest is a defensive beast and can go off for 30+ points any night so he becomes our third scoring option immediately. If Badiane comes through in any sense, he and JHo could hold down the 4 for a year, plus he can slide over to center to spell Yao or Mutombo.
     
  9. New Jack

    New Jack Member

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    Among the free agents, Bobby Simmons would be #1 on my list, above even Swift and Chandler. I think he could be our Jason Terry. The guy is just lethal when left open.

    Pains me to say this since he's played so well for us, but I think trading Mike James may be the only way this team can acquire that "3rd star" that this team needs. He's really the only tradeable commodity this team has. Before seeing that free agent list, I would have said James was a keeper and there's no way he should be traded, but just looking over the available free agents, there sure are a lot of quality point guards out there. Jaric, McInnis, Daniels, Watson, Stoudamire, BoJax, could all replace James well if he were traded.

    Ideal offseason for me would be:
    1.) Convince Simmons to force a sign-and-trade and send Wesley and MJ to the Clippers for Simmons resigned at $8 mil per.
    2.) Draft Hakim Warrick
    3.) Split the MLE and sign Damon Stoudamire and Dan Gadzuric.

    Yao/Mutombo/Gadzuric
    Howard/Gadzuric/Warrick
    Simmons/Mcgrady
    Mcgrady/Barry
    Stoudamire/Sura

    -Center position is fine. Keep it the same.
    -3 headed monster at the 4. Howard plays when offense is needed. Warrick plays when we need to play small ball. Gadzuric plays when we need rebounds.
    -Mcgrady and Simmons at the wings make a deadly combo.
    -Stoudamire gives the team a quick, penetrating guard that it severely lacks.
     
  10. Dr of Dunk

    Dr of Dunk Clutch Crew

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    A team with Artest and McGrady should just be outlawed. But at the same time, I don't know if I want the headaches that Artest brings. He's a nutcase beyond any of the ones mentioned in this thread. Zach Randolph, Darius Miles, etc. are nowhere near the headcases this guy is.
     
  11. saintja2

    saintja2 Contributing Member

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    We have to keep in mind that we MIGHT be forced to BUY OUT Ward and/or Baker.

    If management is as willing as most fans here to bring both Spanoulis and Badiane here,

    AND

    Resign Mutombo(MUST), Barry and Bowen,

    We will be very short on roster spots.

    Yao
    T-Mac
    Wesley (expiring contract)
    Sura
    Howard
    James
    Padgett
    Spoon (expiring contract)
    Baker (expiring contract)
    Moochie (not so sure about this, but might be a team option on '06)
    Ward (team option=expiring contract)
    +
    Mutombo
    Barry
    Bowen
    +
    Draft Pick
    MLE (I don't want to see them NOT use this)
    Spanoulis
    Badiane

    That's 18.

    Carroll Dawson will have to make some 2 for1, 3for1 deals in the summer. If those kind of deals aren't available, we'll have to bite the bullet and buy some one out.

    Of course, if we don't resign our free agents and bring Spanoulis/Badman here, we'll have more room.
     
  12. Doctor Robert

    Doctor Robert Contributing Member

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    The mock drafts I'm seeing list Hakim Warrick as a small forward. What is he expected to do in the NBA?
     
  13. Man

    Man Contributing Member

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    Very good post and I am really loving how the Rockets can do so many things.

    Kidd, Allen, Pierce, are dreams. Mobley, Artest, Sprewell, and Joe Johnson would be more than great.

    Mark Blount would be a very good backup for Yao if we can't get Dikembe back.

    Point guard..Antoniio Daniels, Sura, Mike James, Spanoulis

    I agree about the draft. Get a good 4 if possible..or get a good 2/3 athletic one who can knock down open jumper and play defense.

    We need youth and athleticism (which includes quickness). They can develop..then we'll be like the Spurs ..with young players supporting their main man TD

    I know the Rockets will be a better team if we get another swingman..a point..and a power forward..Tmac will have some help outside and Yao will have some help inside.
     
  14. GATER

    GATER Contributing Member

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    Game 7 with DAL has me singing a different tune. Juwan, Bowen and Padgett are satisfactory with the right SG. Never going to happen, but Gerald Wallace (RFA) would look great in Rocket red. Turiaff in the draft and Wallace in FAgency would be make the Rox a lot younger and very athletic and I'd faint.
     
  15. Man

    Man Contributing Member

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    It sucks that these 3 guys are so good and talented (athleticism and strength) ...too bad they are crazy!!!!
     
  16. krocket

    krocket Contributing Member

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  17. tigermission1

    tigermission1 Contributing Member

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    Some thoughts on few players mentioned...

    Getting a player of Artest's caliber is IMPOSSIBLE, not even a distant possibility. Even if Indiana are fed up with him, and I think they aren't, they can easily get some great return in trading him. I am talking players of the Stojakovic, Ray Allen, Jason Kidd, Francis/Marbury types; in fact they can get more, Artest's abilities on both defense/offense, tenacity and rebounding is unmatched but by few players in the league. He is easily one of the best all-around players in the league.

    I think the most likely players to become Rockets are as follows, and for various reasons:

    1) Joe Johnson - I just have a gut feeling about this (kinda like when I had that gut feeling about the Rockets acquiring T-Mac in a trade in Nov 2003 ;) )

    2) Antonio Daniels - CD and the Rockets seem determined to get this guy one way or another. He would be a GREAT starting PG.

    3) Spree - I think unless he want to go back to the east coast, he won't be offered much money from teams around the league, and if he is serious about winning and playing in a system that would exploit his strength (i.e. defense and slashing inside) he would give serious consideration to the Rockets. JVG loves this guy from back in NYC, and for good reason if you watched him play there. I think he is a highly likely candidate for the Rockets, and I hope if he comes here we can resurrect that fire in him that he possessed back in NYC.

    4) Nick Van Exel - I think this guy not only can be had, he can be had for CHEAP because he wants to be near his home in Houston and really wants to win. He would make a great backup point, or could even start for our team alas a Jason Terry type. The most intriguing thing about him is his price, he can be had for cheap, and is still quick and effective and not that old (early thirties). His experience in the playoffs would give us a huge edge and that elusive backcourt scorer than can be a 3rd option behind Yao and McGrady

    5) Stoudamire - will do same things as NVE, but will be more pricey.

    Another quick comment regarding Jason Kidd. I don't think the Rockets front office is stupid enough to handicap themselves with his contract, EVEN if he was 100% healthy (which he isn't). He is such a bad shooter from outside that short of his penetration ability he would be a liability on offense, save for the occasional offensive burst every now and then. A great passer indeed, but considering all his positives (passing, rebounding) and his negatives (terrible contract, questionable durability, bad spot-up shooting, handicapping of our franchise cap-wise), I would say his negatives clearly outweigh his positives, and thus he isn't worth the trouble.
     
  18. Deuce

    Deuce Context & Nuance

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    I agree with Morris Peterson. He is young, athletic and quick, has nice size at 6'5", can defend and can hit the 3pt shot. I think he would look nice on the perimeter with Tmac.

    We wont be able to obtain him with expiring contracts alone. But could probably get him if a pick is involved or perhaps taking back a bad contract from Toronto.
     
  19. Gatorfan76

    Gatorfan76 Contributing Member

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    I really think a lot of unrestricted free agents will go to Houston for a lot less money for a chance to play with T-Mac and Yao so this should be an exciting off season...:)
     
  20. NIKEstrad

    NIKEstrad Contributing Member
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    First krocket- Badiane is 21, iirc. We drafted him at age 19. For comparison, Ginobili came over when he was 25.

    Gerald Wallace would show a definite commitment to becoming more athletic. The guy is a first class athlete and excellent defender. I've even seen something sort of resembling a jump shot, at least compared to his Sacramento days. His lack of 3 range hurts a lot- if you wanted to do something crazy, consider turning him into a Shawn Marion-esque power forward. I just can't see JVG doing that. I haven't seen enough of Turiaf- can he hit the midrange J? I'm really liking Hakim Warrick right now because he can hit the midrange shot and would be quick in rotations- it'd seem like he should've blocked more shots in college, but I don't think Josh Howard would've gotten nearly as many layups if he were going up against Warrick instead of Padgett.

    Deuce- Toronto would probably love to unload Rafer Alston. Don't know if I'd want him...Jeff can ask Stan. Alston may be a nice change of pace guard, but would be redundant with Mike James.
     

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