Potential Free Agents For The Houston Rockets To Sign
Photo by Matt Slocum/AP Photo
The NBA Free Agency Period starts June 30. With the Rockets building a core of very young super-athletes, it is time they add in a dash of veteran leadership. I am going to breakdown my top free agent choices for Houston by position, guard and big.
Point guard Fred VanVleet
VanVleet is number one on my big board for a couple reasons. The point guard position is the biggest need for Houston right now. Point guard Kevin Porter Jr is playing out of position. He's really a two-guard and point guard Amen Thompson is a rookie. VanVleet brings the leadership this young roster desperately needs. He will be asked to command the floor night in and night out, he's someone who will always be an extension of the coach, and he comes with a championship pedigree. VanVleet will undoubtedly be the most expensive player Houston will go after. His price range will be somewhere between two years for $80 million to four years for $120 million. It really depends on if Houston can get him to settle into a shorter contract.
2. Point guard Derrick Rose Rose might be a bit of a shock, but he would represent the adult presence off the court. Rose will not be an every day player, but having him in the facility every day is where he can earn his money. This Rockets team is filled with incredible athletes who grew up watching Rose highlight reels. He can talk to them on a level of body care that most others can't. Rose can coach guys like Porter Jr and Thompson on how to run the offense and still be able to get in throughout the course of the game. Rose will help grow their mentality for the game and he will come at a very affordable price for Houston.
3. Guard Seth Curry
Curry would bring drastic improvement to the Rockets three point shooting. As a team last season, the Rockets shot 32.7% from beyond the arc while Curry shot 40.5%. For his career, Curry is 43.5% from deep. At almost 33 years old, I don't know if Houston is a situation Curry would like to go to. I imagine him looking for a spot on a contending team, but that shouldn't stop Houston from calling. The Rockets could get Curry as a rotational player on a team friendly deal.
4. Guard/forward Dillon Brooks
Brooks plays phenomenal defense, and Houston was third from last in opponents' points per game last season. Brooks was top 20 in defensive win shares last season. The highest rated Rocket in that same category was forward Tari Eason at 236th. I like Brooks to Houston for a few reasons. He would be the defensive anchor with head coach Ime Udoka bringing out his absolute best. Brooks is a good three point shooter giving Houston more depth there. Lastly, and maybe most important, Houston doesn't have to run the offense through Brooks. He isn't a guy that needs a lot of touches. If the ball swings to him he can make plays as Brooks shot 50% from inside 10 feet, and shot 36% on catch-and-shoot threes. With the amount of talent around him, Brooks would find himself in those situations again as he did in Memphis. I imagine Brooks will get a pay bump in this free agent period but he is still a manageable contract for the amount of cap space Houston has to play with.
5. Guard/forward, Andre Iguodala
Iguodala would be a fantastic veteran addition for the Rockets. This would be a move, much like Rose, that would have Houston paying a player for what they can bring to the organization off the court rather than on it. Iguodala has had a fantastic, long career culminating with multiple rings and a NBA Finals MVP trophy. Iguodala can be a fantastic go-to for the younger players on how to succeed without being a focal point, how to earn minutes doing the little things, and what they can do to take care of their bodies to have a long lasting career. Iguodala would cost Houston almost nothing and be an invaluable piece of their roster.
6. Center Montrezl Harrell
Bring Harrell back. Harrell provides more depth at the center position for Houston, and is a good day-to-day guy to go after current Rockets center Alperen Sengun. Harrell averaged 12 minutes per game last season. Udoka can certainly find 10-12 minutes a game for Harrell to come in, set great screens, help get into the offense and work hard on both ends of the boards.
7. Center Brook Lopez
Lopez is coming off a phenomenal 2022-2023 season. You would be hard-pressed to find a big in the league that went through more of a change in their game to stay current than Lopez did. Through his first eight seasons, Lopez averaged between 0% and 14% from three. The last seven seasons, Lopez is averaging 35%. Lopez is a perfect big for what most everyone is assuming will be an offense with a lot of space and movement. The only hesitation Rockets fans would have with this particular move is it does not appear Lopez is looking for a back seat role. The Houston faithful love Sengun and his upside, so bringing in Lopez as a starter would be a move met with mixed reactions. If Lopez was willing to split time or become a backup then this would be the absolute move of the free agency period for Houston, but I doubt that is what he is looking for right now. Between Milwaukee and the open market, Lopez will look to command a contract somewhere between two to three years worth around $15 million to $20 million annually.
Ranking these seven free agents who I believe Houston should take a run at from most important to least:
The Rockets have a lot of talent spread across their roster, the one area they absolutely have to address is veteran leadership. I leaned heavy on the need while making this list and I believe if the Rockets can land one or two of the guys on this list, combined with Udoka's leadership, Houston can make a jump this season that will impress many around the league.