This just in: The Houston Rockets are still the Houston Rockets.
Translation: They still plan on chasing just about every superstar free agent under the sun.
From ESPN.com’s Calvin Watkins:
According to a source the Houston Rockets are looking at the following high-level free agents: Al Horford, Kevin Durant, Hassan Whiteside and Ryan Anderson. The team’s search to upgrading the roster will be wide and not just strictly with these four players.
So, yeah. Kevin Durant is out. He isn’t signing with Houston. Get past it. Ryan Anderson is likely obtainable. He isn’t re-signing with the New Orleans Pelicans, that’s for sure. But he will most likely cost more than $15 million annually. That’s a lot to pay for a stretch 4 who doesn’t protect the rim or pass particularly well.
Al Horford and Hassan Whiteside are the best, most realistic fits of this small list.
Horford is equal parts floor spacer, rim protector and playmaker. Rockets coach Mike D’Antoni would have a field day with him. The same goes for Whiteside, albeit for different reasons. A big man who is willing to protect the iron and dive within pick-and-rolls all night is a D’Antoni special. The absence of a mid-range jumper curbs his value, as does his suboptimal passing ability. But the Rockets wouldn’t have any issue crafting a top-eight offense around him and James Harden.
Thing is, we’re not entirely sure if the Rockets rank as a legit free-agent landing spot. Last season’s implosion definitely hurt their curb appeal. While they may land meetings with the biggest names, there are no assurances they’re able to poach a star, like they did with Harden (trade) and Dwight Howard. This offseason, then, will go a long way in defining how the league’s hottest commodities view Houston.