2011-12 Record: 34-32, fourth place in Southwest Division, 9th in Western Conference
2012 NBA Draft: G Jeremy Lamb (UConn, 12th overall pick), F Royce White (Iowa State, 15th overall pick), F Terrence Jones (Kentucky, 18th overall pick)
Offseason Additions: G Jeremy Lin (3 years, $25 million), G Shaun Livingston (acquired from Milwaukee Bucks), G Toney Douglas (acquired from New York Knicks), F JaJuan Johnson (acquired from Boston Celtics), F John Brockman (acquired from Milwaukee Bucks), F Sean Williams (acquired from Boston Celtics), F Gary Forbes (1 year, $1.5 million), Omer Asik (3 years, $25 million), C Josh Harrellson (acquired from New York Knicks, released), C Jerome Jordan (acquired from New York Knicks, released)
Offseason Losses: G Kyle Lowry (traded to Toronto Raptors), G Goran Dragic (signed with Phoenix Suns), G Courtney Lee (traded to Boston Celtics), F Chase Budinger (traded to Minnesota Timberwolves), F Luis Scola (amnestied, picked up by Phoenix Suns), C Samuel Dalembert (traded to Milwaukee Bucks), C Marcus Camby (sign-and-trade with New York Knicks)
Projected Starting Line-up: PG Jeremy Lin, SG Kevin Martin, SF Chandler Parsons, PF Patrick Paterson, C Omer Asik
OFFSEASON GRADE: N/A
I’m not trying to avoid giving the Houston Rockets a letter grade for their offseason moves or anything, but I literally have no clue what GM Daryl Morey and this franchise are trying to do.
The plan early on in the summer was to acquire enough assets and/or draft picks to possibly make a run at Orlando Magic superstar Dwight Howard. The belief was that if this team could somehow land a franchise player like Howard (even if it was only for a one-year rental), it would somehow make the Rockets relevant again in the eyes of many and then they could rebuild and start anew from there.
Clearly, none of it amounted to anything. Dwight Howard is now a Los Angeles Lakers and Houston is now left with a ton of pieces with no real direction, focus or identity.
I suppose if the Rockets do want to forge out a new identity, it’s going to have to revolve around their newly acquired point guard Jeremy Lin.
Houston signed Lin to a contract sheet of 3 years and $25 million dollars early in the summer. The deal would pay Jeremy $5 million each in his first 2 years and then $15 million in year 3. That “poison pill” contract was too pricey for the New York Knicks liking, and perhaps rightfully so.
I don’t believe it’s an outlandish claim to say that Jeremy Lin hasn’t shown enough of his game to warrant such a lucrative contract. Putting all of the media hype and fanfare to the side for just a moment, Lin could arguably be considered a step down from what the Rockets had last season talent-wise at the point guard position with Kyle Lowry and Goran Dragic
I’m sure all of the Jeremy Lin supporters out there will be upset with those statements, but reality has to set in sooner or later. He’s still incredibly young and his work ethic and attitude alone could propel him to greater heights if he dedicates his time to improving his craft, but all I’m saying is don’t be alarmed if the aura of “Lin-Sanity” wears off and all the Rockets are left with is an overhyped, overpriced, below average point guard.
Either way, I will be rooting for Lin to succeed just like all of you. He’s a very humble, well-spoken individual who deserves all of the praise that has been thrown his way this past year. It’s always good to see a professional athlete with a good head on his shoulders and good values overall. If Jeremy does prove that he isn’t a “flash in the pan” star, then the Rockets might have something truly special on their hands, but that’s only if he continues to evolve as a player. Time will tell.
Speaking of poison pill contracts that may never amount to anything, backup Chicago Bulls center Omer Asik also signed a 3 year, backloaded $25 million dollar contract as well.
Averaging just 14 minutes a game last season for Chicago, Asik put up averages of 3.1 points, 5.3 rebounds and 1.0 blocks a contest. He’s an underrated interior defender and an excellent rebounder, but his offensive game is extremely limited. His offensive rating was only 97 points per 100 possessions.
I can see the potential in Asik that many others constantly love pointing out, but with such a limited history due to his lack of PT, how can anyone be sure if he’s the real deal at the center position or not? A $25 million dollar deal for a player who hasn’t topped the 15 minutes per game mark in his career seems like an awfully risky gamble to me.
In the 2012 NBA Draft, the Houston Rockets selected 3 highly skilled young forwards in Jeremy Lamb, Royce White and Terrence Jones, with the hopes that any combination of the trio could be moved to another team to acquire a superstar.
With no potential deals on the horizon, the Rockets are now left with all 3 of those players. On a roster chalk-full of forwards like the Rockets are, it’s hard to figure out how exactly the playing time is going to be distributed, especially since all 3 rookies are so similar in styles. Jeremy Lamb is the most talented of the bunch (thus his higher selection), so I would expect him to see the most on the court chances for this team.
There is certainly a lot of potential here on this Houston Rockets team. All of these fresh young faces will bring a lot of excitement and optimism to the franchise, but its way to early to predict whether that will result in wins or more losses for Houston.
I just don’t know. This team is quite the interesting conundrum, but it’s also the most frustrating to figure out.
Christopher Walder is a sports blogger and lead editor for Sir Charles in Charge. You may follow him on Twitter @WalderSports