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Rockets owner says team to go big game hunting for another star this summer

May 7, 2014, 12:50 PM EDT

Memphis Grizzlies v Houston Rockets Getty Images

The Rockets have a big two in James Harden and Dwight Howard, but the owner wants three.

Houston Rockets owner Leslie Alexander was pretty clear in speaking to Fox 26 in Houston that the plan is to go big and try to add a third star to the roster.

“We’re going to have cap room to bring in a terrific free agent and I think next year we’ll be a lot better than we were this year,” Alexander said in an interview with FOX 26 Sports. “I think the nucleus is great. I think we have two of the brightest stars in the league. We have players who are going to be much better next year, young guys. We have a very good nucleus….

“We won 54 games,” Alexander said. “It’s tough to win 54 games in the NBA and the West is so stacked, it’s hard. We were the youngest team in the league in the playoffs. Just that alone will get us much better. I thought the team played hard. They did what they could and when you lose the other team was better.”

He’s right on one front, this was a year for the Rockets to be on the learning curve. By the playoffs we saw the old, dangerous Dwight Howard emerge with a huge series. (James Harden was another issue.) The Rockets started to find some footing with their style of play, and GM Daryl Morey has been clear for a while that this roster needed some additions.

The two most obvious spots would be an elite point guard and to add a traditional stretch four. Expect to hear rumors of the Rockets trying to make a play for someone like Rajon Rondo this summer. It is known they want to throw their hat in the Carmelo Anthony ring. If Chris Bosh decides to test the market he would be a good fit.

But getting another star will not be that easy.

To do that the Rockets will have to find a taker for Omer Asik and/or Jeremy Lin (giving the Rockets little to nothing back in return in terms of salary). The problem there is as much as both of those guys bring value on the court (not commiserate with their contracts, but they are quality players) nobody is just going to take on the salary, you have to throw in a sweetener — and the sweetener everybody asks for is Chandler Parsons. The Rockets don’t want to give him up, in fact they are likely to try to work out is the Rockets will decline his option this summer and make him a restricted free agent they will re-sign. They can pick up his option for next year (less than $1 million) but then he is an unrestricted free agent in 2015 and much harder to keep.

Morey is an active and smart GM who said during the first round that he, the owner and Howard are impatient and want to win sooner rather than later. A smart couple moves can vault the Rockets up the ladder, as can the simple fact this team is maturing.

Of course, the other problem is that the Thunder, Clippers, Trail Blazers, and for at least another year the Spurs, are all also going to be ridiculously good. The West is brutal.

  1. kb2408 - May 7, 2014 at 12:58 PM

    IMO, Chandler has the look of a dude that might go elsewhere and not be as good as he is now. I don’t think he’s the type of player you can stick in any system and he will thrive.

    • casualcommenter - May 7, 2014 at 1:13 PM

      The Rockets aren’t the Spurs. McHale hasn’t installed have a true system on offense with multiple actions off the ball in every set. Instead, plays begin generally with either a pick and roll run by Harden or Lin, or a Dwight post-up, and the players ad-lib from there.

      A player like Parsons can’t be a product of “the system” if there is no system…

      • savvybynature - May 7, 2014 at 1:23 PM

        I have to completely disagree.
        Some players thrive with less structure (Nick Young of the Lakers, for example), and not every player that has gone to the Spurs has benefited from Pop’s system. Some players have actually performed worse, like Richard Jefferson.
        So yes, some players can thrive under a style of play that encourages running and jacking 3s early in the shot clock, even if that isn’t a true “system” so to speak.

      • kb2408 - May 7, 2014 at 1:27 PM

        Thank you, savvy. We see it all the time. A successful player goes to another team and is not the same player. To say McHale doesn’t have a system is foolish. He has a system @casual…maybe you just don’t know what it is.

      • duhwighthoward - May 7, 2014 at 2:00 PM

        McHale doesn’t actually coach. He likes the money, being around the players and going to the games. It’s just a hobby, not a job.

      • duhwighthoward - May 7, 2014 at 2:07 PM

        @ savvybynature, not to pick on you, but I was a huge fan of Nick Young’s, having watched him in college. He has yet to thrive in the NBA in any sense of the word. That’s why he’ll be on his tenth team in ten years. And Richard Jefferson, once he lost his athleticism, lost his game. I think it was more that then Popovich.

      • savvybynature - May 8, 2014 at 1:39 AM

        Fair enough about Nick Young (though Jefferson has said he had difficulty adapting to the Spurs system), but my point was that the “pace and space” that Houston runs, whether you consider it a “system” or not, could let some players excel (i.e. fast players that can knock down transition 3s) that might not look as good playing under a different style.
        Conversely, the Spurs system wouldn’t make every player look better, though it often looks like that because they do a good job of adding players that fit.

      • geefors - May 8, 2014 at 11:43 AM

        @Savvy …Nick Young is thriving? I must have missed that some, him and JR Smith ride in the same boat talented certainly can score but there are WAAAAYYY to many WTF is up with that moments, by the way the captain of that boat is Javale McGee

    • billtetley53 - May 7, 2014 at 1:25 PM

      Dont you ever get tired of looking dumb,kb? Its a rhetorical question, no meed to answer.
      What do you actually see when you watch a game? Evidently not what everybody else does!

      • andyreidisfat - May 7, 2014 at 3:37 PM

        It’s almost automatic that when someone on the internet calls someone else dumb they misspell a bunch of words …….

      • billtetley53 - May 7, 2014 at 4:17 PM

        Its just as automatic when another loser comes along and points out ONE obvious typo….

        Thanks for being the spellchecker though, nice job.

      • kb2408 - May 7, 2014 at 4:34 PM

        @andyreid…good one, Lol!!

      • billtetley53 - May 7, 2014 at 8:50 PM

        Trust me kb, once andy gets a load of your incessant moronic postings, he wont be siding with you for long. If he does, hes just as big of an idiot as you are.

        I bet you have an extremely punchable face.

    • redbaronx - May 7, 2014 at 5:52 PM

      @kb2408 – You’re undervaluing him. Look at what Noah does for the Bulls. The energy. Active hands in the lanes. Second chance shots. A big cutting to the basket.

      Trust me. Chandler is going to be VERY successful in this league. The only question is whether it’s going to be in Houston or somewhere else.

      Morey is no dummy and I expect that he’ll do everything he can to make sure Parsons is a Rocket for the long-term. The Rockets are not that far off. If they get an outside threat guard to compliment the great inside game they have….look out!!! Lin was supposed to be that guy. I don’t know if the Rockets have given up on him, but we’ll see.

      • srirachahhhhhhhh - May 8, 2014 at 2:21 AM

        lin was never suppose to be that kind of player. they signed him before they signed harden. lin was suppose to be the guy that drove the lane and created for others. that all changed when they got harden.

      • redbaronx - May 8, 2014 at 6:43 PM

        @srirachah – They brought in Lin for Point Guard duties, not shooting guard duties. He’s just not playing up to the level the Rockets thought he would.

  2. thekingdave - May 7, 2014 at 1:02 PM

    Sounds all well and good, but like you state it will be difficult to dump both Lin and Asik without the receiving team asking for more to take on those salaries. If you have to move Parsons, you don’t have the ammo to make a move for Rondo. Even with him, I don’t know if that’s enough. The dream scenario I guess is to have Melo take a million less than max or whatever to sign outright after dumping Lin/Asik, then resigning Parsons to whatever restricted offer he receives. Highly unlikely.

    • casualcommenter - May 7, 2014 at 1:11 PM

      Asik has some trade value because good defensive true centers are hard to find, and while the actual salary he’ll get paid stings, the fact that his cap hit is just $8 million means that the impact on a team’s luxury tax is more reasonable.

      I consider Lin basically untradeable without adding sweeteners like draft picks because of how easy it is to find a decent point guard getting paid less than even his $8 million cap hit, much less his actual salary, but Asik should be movable.

      • sparty0n - May 7, 2014 at 2:07 PM

        We will take Lin if you take back Josh Smith

      • bougin89 - May 7, 2014 at 2:55 PM

        Lin and Asik’s contracts are basically a built in luxury tax.

  3. buffalowned - May 7, 2014 at 1:31 PM

    What they need is an elite perimeter defender. You can out score teams in the regular season but in the playoffs, defense is essential. Carmelo won’t solve any problems. James Harden obviously isn’t willing to play defense or just doesn’t know how. Rondo would make a lot of sense but good luck swinging that one

    • pharohislife - May 7, 2014 at 1:56 PM

      Avery Bradley is a restricted free-agent this summer.

      • jcmeyer10 - May 7, 2014 at 2:22 PM

        He took a step back this year. Whether it was injury or whatever. His offense went up and his defense went down.

        I thought he would carve himself out as a Tony Allen type, then he started scoring. He had some -40 games (not that it’s the be all and end all but -40 is something that pops out) and you have to wonder if he can do both.

      • TheMorningStar - May 7, 2014 at 6:02 PM

        Avery Bradley isn’t going anywhere… Ainge will match.

        And sorry jcmeyer10, but your logic is flawed. Bradley DID NOT take a step back this season. He was injured. Injury does not equal ‘step back’.

    • jdk123 - May 7, 2014 at 3:47 PM

      Who the heck is Patrick Beverley then??

      • buffalowned - May 7, 2014 at 7:57 PM

        He is a great defender. Doesn’t change anything I said. If I said another instead of “an” would you feel better?

  4. unxpexted1 - May 7, 2014 at 1:44 PM

    The problem with the rockets is their style of play. If they are going to run and gun they almost have to commit to that sort of style. Only problem is, most guys that thrive in run and gun or not good defenders. So they have to make a decision to sacrifice their style of play but i’m not sure if that’s going to happen.

  5. jattsoorma - May 7, 2014 at 1:48 PM

    hello melo :)

  6. bknowledge - May 7, 2014 at 3:10 PM

    Deron Williams for Lin and Asik.
    or
    3 team deal:
    Deron to Milwaukee; Lin and Asik to Nets; Ilyasova and Ramon Sessions and filler to Houston.

    After the contracts of Lin and Asik expire next year, the Nets will have enough cap space to pursue another max free agent.

    • iammr713 - May 7, 2014 at 3:47 PM

      LMFAOOOOOOO

  7. 00millerfortune - May 7, 2014 at 3:19 PM

    Rockets don’t need another star. They need to roll with what they have, build years up between the core and see what happens. That’s what they have Harden and Howard for, to be the face of the franchise.

    You can’t afford 3 superstars with the way things work nowadays. Or you can, you just ain’t gonna have much else. What happens when one or two of those stars get injured? In the playoffs! You need depth.

    They get another big name you can kiss Parsons goodbye. I think Parsons is the PERFECT 3rd banana. He can do it all from scoring, defense, 3 ball, rebound, stays healthy, etc. He’s not gonna demand the ball (or pay) like a superstar but can have superstarish nights, plus he’s a 2-way player.

    If HOU is just patient, they may just win one within 3 years with what they already have. But everyone’s always looking for the quick fix. SMDH

    • au1978 - May 7, 2014 at 3:38 PM

      I have a feeling there are more than a few GM’s who watched Asik during the playoffs and now are willing to take on his contract. Sure you can’t expect much, if anything, from him on offense, but he’s a top 5 defensive center no doubt. Lin’s contract, however, is another issue…

      • sportsfan18 - May 7, 2014 at 4:53 PM

        Asik ONLY has one year at $15 million… not 3 or 4 years at that amount. IF a team thinks he is their missing piece, that isn’t so bad… as long as he’ll resign with that team going forward…

  8. sumkat - May 7, 2014 at 4:20 PM

    “Mr. Hinke, someone from the Rockets for you on line 2. Something about eating some of their contracts in return for picks”

  9. senioreditor2 - May 7, 2014 at 4:34 PM

    Lin and Asik’s contracts had the third season “poison pill” inserted so they’re teams at the time, wouldn’t match. My guess is that they hold on to both and try and trade expiring contracts at the deadline. Someone’s going to want to clear 14-28 mil. Maybe they can sweeten the deal and offer both plus picks to the Knicks for Anthony and Bargnani?

  10. stephenolszewski - May 7, 2014 at 4:45 PM

    Rockets need a Point Guard a guy that can control the game, Rondo would be perfect but don’t see him going anywhere don’t think Harden and Melo together would work

    • geefors - May 8, 2014 at 11:51 AM

      Boston will move Rondo but it aint gonna be cheap, Harden and Melo would be a disaaster

  11. csbanter - May 7, 2014 at 5:08 PM

    If James Harden plays off the ball a bit more the Rockets would be ok. They have to get Howard involved in the offense more. Rondo would be perfect but the Celtics are not going to take back marginal players in return.

  12. redbaronx - May 7, 2014 at 5:59 PM

    Sometimes the best move is no move. With that being said, if the Rockets could get a guard of Rondo’s caliber??!!! It would make the Rockets a really super team as long as they didn’t have to give up Parsons.

    I’d really focus on Rondo. Looking around the league I don’t see anyone else they could have a reasonable expectation of prying away from their team. Other teams are too successful, or banking on development of their young/talented point guard (like Michael Carter-Williams)

    • TheMorningStar - May 7, 2014 at 6:08 PM

      Rondo isn’t going anywhere either, well unless Ainge gets a ridiculously stupid offer like this:

      Rondo, Jeff Green, and Gerald Wallace for Parsons, Motiejūnas, Asik and multiple 1st rd draft picks.

      Still think Morey would do something like that?

      • redbaronx - May 7, 2014 at 6:18 PM

        @themorningstar – Ainge is no dummy so I’m sure he wouldn’t do the scenario that you envisioned in a straight up trade.

        However, there are scenarios involving other players from a 3rd team which might prove attractive for the Celtics where Houston would give up Asik. It’s hard to envision 3 team trades so I won’t get into that, but I’m pretty sure that no player on the C’s (including Rondo) is untouchable at this point. A good GM always considers what’s in the best interest of the team, and Ainge is a good GM. If he feels that moving Rondo is going to put the Celts back on track, he would do it.

        Personally I feel the C’s have a better chance at getting good by being bad a couple of years, so moving Rondo would not necessarily be a terrible idea.

        For full disclosure I’m a Wizards fan, so I have no dog in this hypothetical.

      • redbaronx - May 7, 2014 at 6:19 PM

        @TheMorningStar – Just to tack on to my last response to you, I’m going to try to think of a 3 way trade that would be viable. Lets see if I can come up with something.

    • TheMorningStar - May 7, 2014 at 6:51 PM

      Ainge has long said that he listens to ALL offers and that no player is unreadable. He has also said he would have to be blown away by an offer to move rondo.

      Can’t see any 3 team scenarios at this point. Unless he makes it clear that he wants out of Boston, why trade him? He’s entering his prime and he’s the best player on a rapidly rebuilding squad.

      Go Wizards!!!

  13. eugenesaxe1 - May 7, 2014 at 6:19 PM

    Maybe he should first focus on getting a 2nd star who will show up before game 6 of the playoffs.

  14. trollaikman8 - May 7, 2014 at 6:39 PM

    Relying on Dwight Howard.
    Good luck with that.

    • justtoldya - May 8, 2014 at 3:17 AM

      Why? He’s already been to the finals when he was younger and with less talent on the team (better coach though in svg). He’s in his prime now, and he did well in the playoffs this season, I think all rocket fans would agree that d12 is not the blame for the early playoff exit. I much rather rely on d12 then rely on Kobe coming back the same player after a major injury at his age.

      • geefors - May 8, 2014 at 11:54 AM

        ^^^^ True

  15. cpcheung - May 7, 2014 at 7:59 PM

    Rondo will be in conflict with Harden: who is going to control the balls? Will McHale dare to order Rondo to stand at the corner like Lin?

  16. realfootballfan - May 7, 2014 at 8:24 PM

    They’ll still be short if they do because if you’re depending on Harden, it’s going to be rough.

    • justtoldya - May 8, 2014 at 3:23 AM

      Look I blame harden for the early playoff exit out of all the rockets. Yes lin made some costly mistakes, but harden didnt show up like he should. If he did games wouldnt have been that close, I also agree his defense is terrible. But the dude is 24, and has improved every year. I feel He needed to be humbled and I think the exit might do it. I expect him to continue to work hard and even harder. I honestly don’t think harden got to where he is today by relying on natural talent.

  17. j0esixpack - May 7, 2014 at 10:45 PM

    I wouldn’t be surprised to see Rondo in Houston before the summer is done

    • justtoldya - May 8, 2014 at 3:28 AM

      I hope so, but it’s going to be expensive. I expect it will take asik, Lin, 1st round and parsons, and that is at least. Some fans will be mad because parson is a fan favorite. But I think it’s needed. I understand that it seems like harden and rondo parring won’t work, but I expect them to work it out. We also need rondos competitiveness. We don’t have someone that has that kind of fire. A lot of times our guys play like a win is just going to be handed to them, instead of fighting for it. We won a lot of close games against lesser teams playing like that but it doesn’t work in the playoffs.

      • TheMorningStar - May 8, 2014 at 1:20 PM

        Forget Lin, his k is too expensive. Add at least 2 more 1st rd picks and be prepared to have to take Gerald Wallace as well.

        Ainge isn’t going to move Rondo next season unless he gets a bounty in return AND is able to unload Wallace’ awful k.

  18. rogerrodgers - May 8, 2014 at 1:27 AM

    SIGN BYNUM NOW!

    • geefors - May 8, 2014 at 11:56 AM

      Did you give yourself a thumbs up? that dude is done

  19. tv63 - May 8, 2014 at 2:36 PM

    Teach them Defense!! Get a better PG.

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