NBA rumors: Rockets free-agent wishlist includes basically everyone

Fred VanVleet, Houston Rockets (Mandatory Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports)
Fred VanVleet, Houston Rockets (Mandatory Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports) /

The Houston Rockets’ NBA free agency wishlist appears to include every major name on the market. 

The Houston Rockets are expected to be aggressive with their $60 million in cap space this summer. New head coach Ime Udoka is eager to contend and the team’s culture of losing in recent years has increased the urgency around the franchise to right the ship.

While James Harden has been the focal point of internet speculation, the Rockets are expected to seriously pursue just about everyone.

According to Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle, the list of names tied to Houston is, um, quite extensive.

Houston Rockets basically want to sign everyone in NBA free agency

Per Feigen, the following names have been tossed around the Rockets’ front office: Khris Middleton, Brook Lopez, Bruce Brown, Jordan Clarkson, Rui Hachimura, Austin Reaves, Cam Johnson, Donte DiVincenzo, Dillon Brooks, Jakob Poeltl, Dwight Powell, James Harden, and Fred VanVleet.

If you’re looking for a condensed list of the notable free agents on the market ahead of the commencement of NBA free agency on June 30, look no further than Houston’s wishlist. Kyrie Irving is really the only name missing, which explains why Irving is basically a lock to re-sign in Dallas. Of the teams with cap space, Houston is the only one that ever felt semi-plausible.

Harden is feeling less and less likely, which means Houston will probably have to focus on other options from the above collection. Khris Middleton and Brook Lopez are both excellent complementary stars, but the Bucks have the inside track to re-sign them.

If the Rockets are going to spend max money, keep your eyes peeled for Fred VanVleet. According to Jake Fischer of Yahoo! Sports, the Rockets are prepared to offer VanVleet north of $80 million over two years to leave Toronto. The scrappy 6-foot-1 guard would add much-needed veteran gravitas to the Rockets’ locker room while providing Udoka with a steady hand to set up the offense.

Other names make sense for Houston. Dillon Brooks would give them an All-Defense wing with a real competitive edge. Bruce Brown is now championship certified, while Cam Johnson is worth a pricey offer sheet (even if Brooklyn will 100 percent match any reasonable offer).

Other names make less sense. Why should the Rockets, with Jabari Smith Jr., Tari Eason, and Cam Whitmore populating the wing rotation, pay a large portion of their salary cap for Rui Hachimura? Is Austin Reaves the right long-term investment with Jalen Green, Amen Thompson, and Kevin Porter Jr. already in the backcourt? Probably not.

Houston’s front office is going to spend money. That much is clear. Whether or not they spend money smartly is yet to be seen. It feels like Houston may be a little too desperate to speed up their rebuild when patience and continuity is normally the way to go (see: Thunder, OKC).

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