NBA

NBA AM: Summer Of Decline For The Rockets?

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Are the Rockets Sputtering?: If you were to ask casual fans how the Houston Rockets’ summer was going from a talent acquisition standpoint, you’d likely receive responses slanting toward the unfavorable. But are the Rockets truly having a rough summer attempting to jump into the realm of title contention or are their stumbles this offseason completely overblown?

Another classic case of perception versus reality.

The Rockets offered maximum contracts to All-Stars Carmelo Anthony and Chris Bosh early in free agency but both players opted to return to their respective franchises. Those decisions, the inability to lure in another All-Star talent, have largely sparked a general feeling of disappointment among fans of the franchise. Throw in the fact the team lost two rotation players in Jeremy Lin and Omer Asik in trades made to create cap space for a big free agency splash and the unfavorable perception gets larger.

Adding fuel to the fire was the loss of emerging forward Chandler Parsons in free agency. While the Rockets were waiting for Anthony and Bosh to make a decision, the Dallas Mavericks stepped in and offered Parsons a three-year deal in excess of $40 million.

While Houston had the right to match any offer received for Parsons, they ultimately decided not to and then went on a perceived-to-be-desperate free agency binge, signing veterans Trevor Ariza, Jeff Adrien and Joey Dorsey.

However, those predicting a decline for the Rockets must take into account the fact that Houston already has two top-15 players on the roster in Dwight Howard and James Harden, with a solid supporting cast in place.

Projected Depth Chart
PG: Patrick Beverley, Isaiah Canaan, Ish Smith
SG: James Harden, Troy Daniels
SF: Trevor Ariza, Alonzo Gee, Robert Covington, Scotty Hopson, Jeff Adrien
PF: Terrence Jones, Donatas Motiejunas, Clint Capela, Josh Powell
C: Dwight Howard, Joey Dorsey

The Rockets finished last season 54-28, but were unceremoniously bounced in the first round of the playoffs by the Portland Trail Blazers. It marked the franchise’s first 50-win campaign since 2009.

Suitors Lining Up For Francisco Garcia: The splashy moves at the beginning of free agency, typically involving the elite players, often get the splashy headlines. But those who have followed the league long enough know an executive earns his money solidifying their roster with capable veterans and promising young talent.

Francisco Garcia is a veteran name still available as we approach August and according to his agent, Aaron Goodwin, interest in his client is starting to pick up. Garcia averaged 5.7 points on 36 percent shooting from three-point range last season for the Houston Rockets in 55 appearances.

Goodwin  says he’s had conversations with Houston’s front office about Garcia returning to the Rockets, but is taking the time to fully evaluate his market value.

“We’ve talked about him,” Goodwin told the Houston Chronicle about his conversations with the Rockets. “Francisco is just looking for the opportunity to continue to play toward a championship. We’re looking through his options, seeing what would be the best opportunities for him. He definitely has interest in the Rockets.”

Brooklyn, New Orleans and Utah have reportedly been interested in adding Garcia at one point or another since free agency opened, but if Goodwin’s comments holds true the veteran is looking to latch on with a club ready to compete at a high level.

Mavericks Stabilize Backcourt, Add Jameer Nelson: The Dallas Mavericks continued their roster overhaul from the end of last season, signing veteran point guard Jameer Nelson to a two-year deal in the $6 million range.

Since the beginning of the offseason, the Mavericks have been extremely active. The team re-signed Dirk Nowitzki and Devin Harris from last year’s unit, while nabbing Chandler Parsons and Richard Jefferson in free agency. The Mavericks also acquired veterans Raymond Felton and Tyson Chandler in a trade with New York.

The combination of Felton and Harris were expected to handle the lion’s share of minutes available in the rotation at point guard, but the addition of Nelson solidifies the team’s stability at the position.

Harris has dealt with numerous ailments involving his lower extremities over the past few years so his durability is a huge question mark as his career progresses. Felton’s play has been erratic and plagued with inconsistency over the last few seasons so his addition is a gamble, despite his talent.

Nelson, a 10-year veteran, was waived by the Orlando Magic before free agency began after playing his entire playing career with the franchise. The guard boasts career averages of 12.6 points, 5.4 assists and 3.1 rebounds in 651 regular season contests (556 starts).

Ray Allen to Cleveland? Not a Done Deal: Ever since four-time MVP LeBron James decided to head back “home” and rejoin the Cleveland Cavaliers, there has been rampant speculation on which of his former teammates in Miami would seek to join him in Ohio.

To date, veteran forwards James Jones and Mike Miller have already signed on the dotted line and now the focus has shifted to future Hall of Fame guard Ray Allen.

Preliminary reports suggested Allen to Cleveland was imminent but Tandem, the agency that represents the guard, says he has yet to decide if he’ll even play in the league again, let alone which franchise.

Allen averaged 9.6 points in 73 games for the HEAT last season. It marked the first time in his 18-year career where he averaged single digits for an entire campaign.

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About Lang Greene

Lang Greene

Lang Greene is a senior NBA writer for Basketball Insiders and has covered the NBA for the last seven seasons

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