The Rockets fell to the Pelicans 105-100, but Kevin McHale decided to stick with his youngsters down the stretch instead of going for the superfluous victory.
Houston started youngster Troy Daniels, 22, who has been playing some rotational minutes of late. Daniels played a team-high 44 minutes, netting 22 points and five assists on 8-16 from the field and 6-11 from distance. Daniels projects as a backup combo guard, as Houston could use a gunslinger off the bench to stabilize their inconsistent second unit.
Normal rotational youngsters Terrence Jones and Donatas Motiejunas both performed well, combining for 28 points and 18 rebounds in a total of 44 minutes. Barring a big-time move in free agency (I believe a move is unlikely, but who knows what to make of the Carmelo Anthony rumor), T-Jones and D-Mo look like Houston’s 4’s of the future. Both guys will need to step up in the postseason if Houston wants to have any chance at coming out of the West, as McHale has shown the propensity to go small due to his lack of late-game faith in his young power forwards.
Jordan Hamilton, 23, also had one of his better performances of the season, dropping 14 points on 4-7 from three-point land. Hamilton has lost out on minutes lately, as McHale has gone with Francisco Garcia as Chandler Parsons’ backup, but Hamilton’s skill set makes him an interesting prospect for next year’s squad.
Right now, Houston is building around Parsons, Dwight Howard, James Harden, Terrence Jones and Patrick Beverley. However, Daryl Morey has proven to be fickle with his peripheral players, so next year’s supporting cast could look a lot different than this year’s. I wouldn’t be surprised to see rookie Isaiah Canaan, 22, take over as Beverley’s backup next year, and guys like Daniels, Hamilton and Robert Covington could all make a play for rotational minutes as well.
If Houston decides to pay Parsons over the summer, something the team will have to do either this summer or next summer to retain him, moving the contracts of Jeremy Lin and/or Omer Asik will be imperative.
Right now, Houston isn’t worried about what’s going to happen over the summer. Everyone in the organization is focused on the playoffs, but the reality is that what happens during the postseason will dictate who stays and who goes.