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This is part twelve of a twelve-part installment of a Beard and Stache special where we'll be breaking down the top things that each lottery team needs to accomplish this offseason in order to improve heading into the 2012-13 campaign.
This is the final daily update to the series with a new team in advance of our soon-to-be released Beard and Stache NBA Mock Draft.
We covered the Phoenix Suns in yesterday's edition, which can be found here.
We leave Phoenix in the rear-view mirror and head to Texas, where the focus will be on a team who also just missed out on the playoffs and therefore was in the NBA Draft Lottery as the fourteenth and final team -- the Houston Rockets.
1. Draft A Replacement Center
The Houston Rockets are loaded with depth. The only clear position of need is the center spot, with both Samuel Dalembert and Marcus Camby being on the downside of their respective careers. Not only that, neither player's calling card in the NBA has ever been a solid offensive game.
No, instead, Dalembert and Camby are rim protectors and in my opinion, they're some of the best in the league. But despite their combined defensive prowess, both Camby and Dalembert lack the ability to score consistently down on the block which is why Houston would be wise to bring in someone who can score in the post along with veteran power forward Luis Scola.
Despite their late lottery spot after narrowly missing the playoffs, thanks to arguably the deepest draft in the last five years, the Rockets should still have options at No. 14. If Illinois' Meyers Leonard, UConn's Andre Drummond or North Carolina's Tyler Zeller are available, the Rockets must take one of them.
Leonard and Drummond are very raw but have star potential if their talent is matured correctly. Zeller is already somewhat established as a low-post scorer, but scouts say his ceiling is that of an NBA starter, not of a superstar. But at 14, is that really a bad thing?
One thing's for sure, whichever center Houston ultimately decides on, they'll have a Hall of Fame big man to learn from in their head coach and Boston Celtics legend Kevin McHale. Not a bad situation to fall in to if you're a rookie looking to get better.
2. Make a Decision on the Kyle Lowry/Goran Dragic Situation
With Dragic set to hit the free agent market as a restricted free agent on July 1st, the Rockets have a decision to make. Do they get into the ring and try to match the offers that will likely be made by the 25-year-old point guard's countless suitors or do they let him walk?
This is a very interesting situation. On one hand, Lowry is under contract for two more seasons and was the incumbent starter in Houston after he took the job from Aaron Brooks when he went down with an injury. Then Brooks was traded to Phoenix who sent back Dragic. The Dragon performed well enough in the starting role when Lowry went down with an injury this season and will rightfully be expecting starter's money and a starting role this off-season.
The thing is, Houston may have the money to keep both players, but both also expect to start. It's a problem for Houston, and they'll have to thoroughly discuss the matter internally and make a decision. My guess? It's widely known that Lowry doesn't get along with McHale and reportedly wants out of Houston. If the team is able to re-sign Dragic (much to the ire of this Phoenix Suns fan who wants him back and hated when we traded him), they could then facilitate a trade to a team like Toronto, who has expressed interest in acquiring Lowry.
3. Keep Courtney Lee -- If the Price is Right
The backup shooting guard is also a restricted free agent heading into this summer, and an athletic wing like Lee who can also shoot it from distance could stand to get a substantial pay raise. The only question is, do the Rockets decide to match it like the Orlando Magic did with J.J. Redick a few years back when he was offered $7 million per year from the Golden State Warriors?
I imagine the Rockets will let him walk if he stands to make more than $5 million annually in his new contract. Luckily, Houston has the depth to afford losing someone like Lee to free agency.
4. Re-Sign Marcus Camby -- Just Not For What He Made Last Season
In case you weren't aware (I wasn't) the former 2007 NBA Defensive Player of the Year made close to $10 million last season. Wow. That is a lot of coin for a late 30's big man who essentially only contributes on one side of the floor. No doubt Camby, though getting long in the tooth, is still a stellar post defender and glass-eater supreme, but is what Camby offers at this stage of his career really worth almost eight figures to Houston? If both parties agree to reunite, Houston needs to make sure that they're getting a discount.
5. Be Patient, You're on the Right Track
It's true that the Rockets don't have any true superstars. However, it's also true that they can play 10-12 guys deep in their rotation. Not many teams (except for maybe the San Antonio Spurs) have that luxury. Huh.. I wonder what they put in the water down there in Texas...
Anyway, I look at it like this. You have all the depth and quality but lack a star at this point. I thought Kevin Martin would have been that guy after coming over from Sacramento, but he had a down year last season by his standards and also missed a third of the lockout-shortened 2011-12 campaign.
But hey, maybe Houston can break the mold. Maybe they can contend without the presence of an overwhelming superstar on their roster. Trust in general manager Daryl Morey and his system. It's gotten you this far. No doubt this team will be in the playoffs sooner rather than later.
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