So, the 2014-15 season is over. And it was a hell of season. 56 wins, 2nd seed in the Western Conference, 1st ever Southwest Division Title, and the first Conference Finals appearance in 20 years. And let's not forget Harden finishing as the runner-up MVP.
Anyway, this offseason looms big. We've got a mid-round Draft pick and a bunch of important players becoming free agents, including Patrick Beverley, Josh Smith, Corey Brewer and Jason Terry.
It seems clear the Rockets need another perimiter guy who can create and/or score to take the pressure off of Harden's hands.
First, the Draft:
We've got the 18th pick from the Pelicans, the 31th overall pick from the Knicks and an obvious need to fill. And the Draft is filled with good talents at the guard position.
Those are my favorite names, who might be avalaible at the 18th:
PG Cameron Payne, Murray St. - At 6-2, 185 lbs, he has great basketball IQ, he can score, he can pass and he can definitely shoot. And he can also defend well. 20 and 6 player last year.
SG Devin Booker, Kentucky. - At 6-6, 205 lbs, the guy can shoot. And shoot really well. He's drawing a lot of comparisions to Klay Thompson. His defense is questionable, but has a high IQ.
G Jerian Grant, Notre Dame. - At 6-4, 200 lbs, he has great size and he can score and create. He would be perfect for a sixth man role off the bench. 16.5 points per game last year.
PG Tyrus Jones, Duke. - At 6-1, 185 lbs, he might be undersized and he isn't a great defender, but he can pass, shoot and people are prasing his intangibles.
SG RJ Hunter, Georgia St.. - At 6-6, 185 lbs, the sharpshooter might be the best 3-point specialist in the Draft. He looks like JJ Redick. He's a good passer as well, but a questionable defender. Scored over 19 last season.
PG Terry Rozier, Louisville. - 6-2, 190 lbs, he's a scorer from the PG position, with goos defense, but a below-average jump shot.
Then, there are some other guys. Delon Wright from Utah, Fuzaro from my beloved Brazil and Rashad Vaughn from UCLA. And then, who knows, they might go best player available and take on of the quality frontcourt players.
And it's not a lock we'll be picking at the 18th. We might try to move up, move down or package the pick in a trade and not pick in the first round at all.
Now, the Free Agency:
According to reports the cap will be at around $67.1 million.
And according to HoopsHype, this is our cap situation:
Dwight Howard - $22,359,364
James Harden - $15,719,062
Trevor Ariza - $8,200,000
Terrence Jones - $2,489,529
Donatas Motiejunas - $2,288,205
Clint Capela - $1,242,720
Joey Dorsey - $1,015,421
Nick Johnson - $845,059
Brewer has a $4,905,000 player option. Reports said he declined that option already, but if it's not true, he'll probably decline it anyway.
Prigioni has a $1,734,572 contarct, but just around $300k are guaranteed.
Kostas Papanikolaou has a fully unguaranteed $4,851,769 contract. Basically a team option.
All those contracts are guaranteed, giving us $54.159,357 guaranteed money. That's roughly $13 million in cap space. We could open more spacing by dealing away guys like Dorsey, Johnson and Jones. But that's counting on Brewer becoming a FA, waiving both Prigioni and Kostas and renouncing all FA to avoid cap holds, including Smith, Beverley, McDaniels and Brewer. It also means we would have to renounce the MLE, because it also has a cap hold. That would make re-signing those guys impossible. $15 million might be enough to get a big-name FA like Dragic, Knight, Aldridge or Love. But that would definitely kill our depth. And it would be a huge risk.
In my opinion, we should forget about a FA signing (unless it's a sign-and-trade deal). Bring back Kostas (he showed potential, and his contract is a nice trade chip). And let's hope we can re-sign Brewer and Smith for fair money. Then, I'd also be looking to extend McDaniels' QO, and hope we can sign him on a cheap contract. Terry on a veteran minimum contract or Prigioni back.
That leaves us with:
Terry or Prigioni/Johnson
That's obviously a hole at PG, while we don't need three PFs who can't really play another position. I'd be looking to move Jones, maybe along with the 18th pick for an upgrade at PG, or just use the pick on a guard and then there's the big decision on Patrick Beverley.
Bev's got a cheap $1,181,348 QO, but he's definitely not the ideal PG for this team, not to mention his history with injuries. But if we can draft a scorer to come off the bench, and it pans out, while re-signing Beverley to a fair deal, that's perfect.
There are some many options and questions... But we definitely look flexible.