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Houston Rockets (Last Year: 42-40)
Live 2010 NBA Draft Grades:
Rockets Overall Team Grade
In a draft somewhat underwhelming after the top five prospects, the Rockets scored a great fit with their only pick of the night. Houston had no real pressing need, but landed a physical power forward who should be able to come in right away and provide some energy and physicality off the bench, possibly making a nice frontcourt mate for a returning Yao. (Grade: A)
14. Patrick Patterson, PF, Kentucky
Won’t be a star in the league, but should be a very solid role player for the Rockets. GM Daryl Morey got a great value here; Patrick Patterson is someone who should be ready to contribute right away. (Pick Grade: LOVE IT)
2009-10 Season Summary:
When your two supposed franchise players combine to play just six games in a single season, your odds of success drastically drop. But with Yao Ming lost for the season due to a foot injury and Tracy McGrady being injured/sulking/traded, Houston was able to finish with an above .500 record, but still eight games back of the eighth playoff spot in the Western Conference.
Kudos to Rockets GM Daryl Morey who turned McGrady’s expiring contract and Carl Landry into a talented starting shooting guard in Kevin Martin, young power forward in Jordan Hill, the expiring contract of Jared Jeffries, and a right to swap first-round picks with the Knicks in 2011. In addition to that move, the draft-day acquisition of Chase Budinger proved to be a solid move as the former Arizona Wildcat became a steady contributor off the bench. Perhaps the biggest storyline of the 2009-10 season in Houston was the development of point guard Aaron Brooks, who was named the NBA’s Most Improved Player and appears to be the team’s floor leader of the future. Trevor Ariza was the big free agent acquisition last offseason, swapping spots with Ron Artest in Los Angeles, and brought his versatility and athleticism, and also figures to be a vital part of the Rockets’ future.
2010-11 Projected Depth Chart:
C: Yao Ming/Brad Miller/Chuck Hayes
PF: Luis Scola/Patrick Patterson/Jordan Hill/Jared Jeffries
SF: Shane Battier/Chase Budinger
SG: Kevin Martin/Courtney Lee/Jermaine Taylor
PG: Aaron Brooks/Kyle Lowry
NBA Free Agents:
PF Alexander Johnson (UFA)
SF Mike Harris (UFA)
2010-11 Team Salary: Approximately $65.4 million
2010-11 League Salary Cap: $58 million
NBA Offseason Needs:
1. Yao rhymes with OW!- Injuries have riddled the 7-6 center for the past several years. His games played since the 2005-06 season read like this: 57, 48, 55, 77, 0. Even with the recent additions of Martin and Ariza, and the development of Brooks, Yao still sets the standard of success in Houston. If he cannot shake himself of these lower body injuries that have plagued him, the Rockets remain nothing more than a borderline playoff team in the Western Conference. Plus, Yao is in the final year of his contract (assuming he exercises the player option which he would be an idiot not to do) that will pay him about $17.7 million next season and if injuries again keep him in the world’s largest suit on the Rockets’ bench, his days in Houston could be numbered.
2. Scoring Power Forward- In trading Carl Landry and with Luis Scola a free agent, the Rockets should be searching for an offensive-minded power forward. Chuck Hayes is one of those gritty players who does dirty work, but is not a threat as a scorer. Jared Jeffries and Jordan Hill are not going to strike fear in any frontcourts. Yao’s return will obviously provide a boost with their interior scoring, but Houston should still try to re-sign Scola or find a suitable replacement at an affordable value since the Rockets will likely be over the cap this offseason.
3. Lock Up Aaron Brooks- Brooks will become a restricted free agent after the 2010-11 season. I think Morey should make an attempt at locking Brooks up to a long-term deal during this season rather than wait until next summer when he could potentially sign an offer sheet with another team. After his tremendous 2009-10 season, he is clearly the point guard of the future and will probably be a hot commodity for many teams searching for a floor general next summer.
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