Desptie having no draft picks, the Rockets were active acquiring the rights to SG Jermaine Taylor, PG Sergio Llull, and G/F Chase Budinger in exchange for a future second-round pick and cash. Whether or not any of these guys stick on the roster will be determined, but I respect their aggressiveness. (Pick Grade: Meh)
2009 NBA Offseason Transactions:
Rockets sign SG Rashad McCants
Nuggets acquire G James White from Rockets for G Axel Hervelle
Rockets sign C Pops Mensa-Bonsu
Rockets sign C/F David Andersen
Greek Team signs G Von Wafer
Rockets acquire PF David Anderson from Hawks for 2nd-rounder and cash
Lakers sign SF Ron Artest
Rockets sign SF Trevor Ariza
Rockets acquire G/F Chase Budinger from Pistons for cash and a future second-rounder
Rockets acquire PG Sergio Llull from Nuggets for cash
Rockets acquire SG Jermaine Taylor from Bullets for cash
Rockets PF Brian Cook exercises player option for 2009-10
2008-09 Season Summary:
The Rockets valiantly tried to be the best NBA team in Texas but fell short in the end, finishing one game behind the San Antonio Spurs. Tracy McGrady only played 35 games before having season ending microfracture surgery on his knee but maybe that was a blessing in disguise as the Rockets actually came together as team without him and finally got out of the first round of the playoffs. On the flip side Yao Ming's lower body once again proved to be fragile and the Rockets were left short handed to finish the season. Luckily for Houston, their front office has put a very good roster together that had better than average chemistry and were able to succeed with the likes of Aaron Brooks, Von Wafer and Luis Scola.
2009-10 Projected Depth Chart:
C: Yao Ming/Luis Scola/David Andersen/Pops Mensa-Bonsu/Joey Dorsey
1. Get Healthy, Stay Healthy - Sure only two of the ten players under contract for the Rockets are injured, but when they account for nearly 61% of the team payroll, like Ron Burgundy, it is kind of a big deal. Yao's history of breaking down late in the season has to be a major issue for the Houston front office and Tracy McGrady's inability to stay on the court makes his $23.2 million 2009-10 salary feel a punch to the gut by Mike Tyson circa 1989. If the team can get its stars back on the court and keep them there without missing significant time, the Rockets are a realistic sleeper pick to win the NBA title.
2. Assess Ron Artest - Any "risk" the Rockets took by trading for Artest last off-season was no risk at all. Artest was vital to the Rockets success this past season, but now the Houston front office needs to decide if signing him to a long-term, pricey deal actually helps their team contend for a title. Whether or not he has "matured," you cannot bring back Artest to a squad that is trying to compete while also transitioning to a younger roster if an NBA title isn't completely realistic. That is just a hand grenade you don't want to mess with if you don't have to.
3. Be Savvy on Draft Day - Even though the Rockets don't have a draft pick, Rockets GM Daryl Morey needs to be ready to make some moves to acquire a draft pick or two. The Morey era has been marked by good value draft picks, and a timely trade with the right team could allow Morey to find another diamond in the rough.