By Alex Lamport on June 6, 2014
Two star players, no playoff series wins for the Houston Rockets in 2014. They are one of the most talented teams in the NBA already, but they haven’t quite figured out the perfect mix just yet and seem a few pieces away. Here’s what they can do to become a legitimate contender in the Western Conference.
Houston will decline their team option on Parsons, which makes him a restricted free agent this offseason. As good a player as he is, Houston should not be too concerned with re-signing him. He could be due for a huge increase in pay, and the Rockets are already pushing on the fringes of the salary cap. With other more talented players available, they should probably let him walk.
Jones is a good player, but this is another way in which Houston can get better. The Rockets currently view him as an indispensable piece, but in reality he’s just above replacement level and truly undersized at power forward. Look no further than the Lamarcus Aldridge matchup in round one this year as evidence of that. The Rockets should explore moving him for, you guessed it, cap space.
Facts are facts: Asik brings nothing to the table for Houston as long as Dwight Howard is still on the roster. The Turkish 7-footer is an excellent interior defender and rebounder, and his talents are a mismatch with the Rockets. Trading Asik would both help with disastrous team chemistry and clearing up cap space so they can go after someone else.
It's time for the Rockets to have a Big Three of their very own. With Anthony on board, Houston would be virtually unstoppable offensively. His newfound role as a perimeter power forward would blend into Houston’s offense perfectly as well. He could chuck up as many three-pointers as he likes and would have virtually no pressure to create shots for others. Houston should, as rumors suggest, go all in for him.
The weakness of the potential Howard-Anthony-Harden trio is a certain lack of leadership. It’s probably overstated by many, but there’s definitely something to it. Kevin McHale is not the right fit to coach these guys, whether or not Anthony joins the fold. Replacing him with a more disciplined taskmaster is critical to Houston’s continued development.
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