Filling Out the Roster

With Dwight Howard securely ensconced as a Houston Rocket, the front office has lately turned its attention to filling out the rest of the roster. Of last season’s players who are no longer with Houston,  Carlos Delfino stands alone as the only major rotation player and an integral part of last season’s success. Morey & co. were faced with the challenge of replacing Delfino’s productivity and adding depth to the Rockets’ roster without the cap space needed to chase well-known rotation players. Despite this limited financial flexibility, the front office’s performance has been predictably stellar.

Delfino was a pivotal role player on last year’s Rockets team. His role as a three-point specialist fit perfectly within Houston’s offensive philosophy and allowed the Rockets to play small-ball with Parsons at the 4-spot. Delfino played 25 minutes per game last year, shot 38% from three on 6.3 attempts per game, and three-pointers constituted two-thirds of his field goal attempts. Per 48 minutes, the Rockets shot 7 more three’s with Delfino on the floor and scored 3 more points overall. The most oft-used line-up in which Delfino played was the Asik-Delfino-Lin-Harden-Parsons unit, which had a +8.6 point scoring differential, shot 42% from three, and scored 110 points per 100 possessions, a rate on pace with that of Miami’s and OKC’s league-leading offenses. Throughout the season, Delfino was the Rockets’ de facto sixth man, a deadly three-point shooter who provided Houston with optimal floor spacing:

Delfino 12-13 shot chart

 

Outside of Howard, the Rockets’ off-season acquisitions have been comprised of veterans on short-term minimum-level contracts. Three of the players whom Houston has signed are candidates to soak up Delfino’s minutes; the other two are players who are familiar to Rockets’ fans and who will fill specific roles.

The Delfino Replacements:

Francisco Garcia (two-year contract at the minimum, player option for second year) 

The most obvious and readily available player to step into Delfino’s role is Francisco Garcia. Garcia was traded to the Rockets in the Thomas Robinson deal with the Kings. A career 36% three-point shooter, Garcia played 18 games for Houston during the regular season and shot 38% from deep. Garcia saw an uptick in his minutes during the playoffs, in which he averaged 27 minutes per game (vs. 18 minutes per game during the regular season). Indeed, the Rockets’ most oft-used line-up in the 6 games against OKC was the Beverley-Asik-Garcia-Harden-Parsons unit, which had a +17 scoring margin. In short, Garcia was a good fit for the Rockets last season, and he appears primed to assume a more prominent role this year.

Note that Garcia’s ’12-’13 shot-chart is not all that different from Delfino’s:

Garcia 12-13 shot chart

 

Reggie Williams (two-year contract at the minimum, second year non-guaranteed) 

Williams is a 6’6” small forward who just finished his fourth year in the league. He had his breakout season (’09-’10) as a rookie in Golden State, a year in which he played 33 minutes per game and averaged 15 points per game. Last year, he assumed a greatly diminished role in Charlotte, appearing in only 40 games and playing a paltry 10 minutes per game. He is, however, a career 37% shooter from deep (although his 3-point percentage has dropped from 36%/42% in his first two years to just 31% the past two seasons). Although Williams’ productivity has declined in recent seasons, the Rockets are effectively making a low-risk bet that he can regain some of his former usefulness as an accurate high-volume three-point shooter.

Omri Casspi (two-year contract at the minimum, team option for second year)

Casspi, at 6’9”, could potentially play either forward position. A former first round pick of Sacramento’s, Casspi has spent the past two seasons languishing in relative obscurity in Cleveland. Like Williams, Casspi has seen his playing time diminish over his brief career: this past season, he played only 12 minutes per game in 43 games. Nonetheless, Casspi is a career 35% three-point shooter and a player who adds additional flexibility to an already malleable Rockets roster.

The Insurance Policies: 

Marcus Camby (one-year contract at the minimum)

At 39 years of age, Camby’s best days are surely behind him. Camby’s health also raises concerns: he played only 24 games last season for the Knicks. Rockets fans, however, will recall a surprisingly effective stint that Camby had on Houston in the latter half of the ’11-’12 season. Camby appeared in 19 regular-season games, starting 13 of them and playing 24 minutes per game while hauling in 9 rebounds per game. Despite his obvious limitations, Camby should still be able to provide a defensive presence in the event that Howard or Asik goes down with an injury. At the very least, he will provide additional depth to what is already the most defensively devastating tandem of centers in the NBA.

Aaron Brooks (one year contract at the minimum)

Brooks, of course, is a classic Morey find. Drafted at the end of the first round of the 2007 draft, Brooks exceeded all expectations by averaging 20 points and 5 assists per game in the ’09-’10 season, garnering most-improved player honors in the process. Since then, Brooks has bounced around to a few different teams (namely, Phoenix and Sacramento) but has yet to re-emerge as the creative offensive force he was during his first tour of duty in Houston. Brooks spent the majority of last season with the Kings before signing with the Rockets for the latter end of the year. In limited minutes as the third-string point guard behind Lin and Beverley, Brooks was largely disastrous: he put up a PER of only 7 and turned the ball over nearly a quarter of the time. His play was not as actively damaging in the playoffs: in 11 minutes per game he sported a more reasonable (although still below-average) PER of 11 and turned the ball over only once every seven possessions. By bringing back Brooks for another year, the Rockets are making another low-risk investment in a player who could end up being a useful third PG by virtue of his ability to create his own offense.

With the addition of Dwight Howard, the Rockets have gone from a young team with upside to a legitimate championship contender with the need to populate its roster with capable veterans. By filling out its roster with veterans who have been productive role players in the past, Houston is actively fulfilling this mandate. Better yet, all five players signed by Houston come with minimum-level, short-term contracts and constitute low-risk investments that could pay off nicely as the season progresses. Faced with limited resources, the front office has done an admirable job of filling the void left by Delfino and ensuring that the Rockets will have a deep and flexible roster for next season.

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Total comments: 24
  • rockets best fan says 8 months ago

    Well you keep wanting to describe your NBA 2K13 trades to me and I keep telling you things don't work like that.

    I see the 2nd part of my statement flew over your head :huh:

  • Buckko says 8 months ago

    is that the only part of my statement you saw......because if it is then you missed the most important part

    Well you keep wanting to describe your NBA 2K13 trades to me and I keep telling you things don't work like that.

  • rockets best fan says 8 months ago

    It wasn't just in the LA thread, it was all over the forum in every topic.

    is that the only part of my statement you saw......because if it is then you missed the most important part

  • Buckko says 8 months ago

    we were talking in a LMA tread....or did you notice? same for Lin. if you don't want to talk about those 2 players stay out of their treads....simple as that. I too wish to keep intellectual conversation, but not in what you consider to be your world of reality. believe it or not all people think like you or see every situation through your eyes. it doesn't make them better or worse than you .....just different.

    It wasn't just in the LA thread, it was all over the forum in every topic.

  • rockets best fan says 8 months ago

    Geeeeeezzzz....I apologize for listing Smith's name first--I can only guess this is the problem. He is third in line--OK?

    You are incorrect about Lin--you and I recently discussed how eager Phoenix would be to send Dragic to us for Lin.

    Portland does not HAVE to trade LMA and they don't HAVE to trade him to us. You seriously think we're going to make the only offer? The only good one?

    I'm not implying anything about Smith--you are. I am stating quite plainly that there is no way Portland is taking Smith back in an Aldridge trade as the sole replacement at PF. It's one thing to have Smith on your roster and try to develop him. It's another to trade LMA for him. Surely you see the difference.

    NO actually I agree with your assessment of Smith even though he is a longshot to out duel the other 2. I recently said regarding Lin that they would send Dragic to us for Lin COMBINED with other assets.....so lets not take that out of context. true Portland doesn't have to trade LMA.... that's their choice, but if the situation starts to go south it would be the smart proactive thing to do. we may or may not have the best offer only time will tell. lastly to have 6 in one hand and half a dozen in the other and say they aren't equal? we are having exactly the opposing conversation we had in the Lin thread whether you see it or not that's what I see

  • thejohnnygold says 8 months ago

    Geeeeeezzzz....I apologize for listing Smith's name first--I can only guess this is the problem. He is third in line--OK?

    You are incorrect about Lin--you and I recently discussed how eager Phoenix would be to send Dragic to us for Lin.

    Portland does not HAVE to trade LMA and they don't HAVE to trade him to us. You seriously think we're going to make the only offer? The only good one?

    I'm not implying anything about Smith--you are. I am stating quite plainly that there is no way Portland is taking Smith back in an Aldridge trade as the sole replacement at PF. It's one thing to have Smith on your roster and try to develop him. It's another to trade LMA for him. Surely you see the difference.

  • Cooper says 8 months ago

    @JG
    1. at no time have I said Lin would be easy to trade. if you remember I called his contract an anvil. those aren't easy to trade. now is it possible?.....YES
    2.Portland may want T-Jones or D-Mo, but who says we have to give them up? the choice is ours and ours alone. however to imply that G-Smith is worthless to Portland, but may emerge into a starting PF here is questionable don't you think?
    3. If Portland moves LMA they are rebuilding. you think they would have no need for an good prospect PF and center who has proven he can anchor a defense.......I disagree. as a matter of fact that's exactly what I think they will be looking for

    When you are rebuilding you don't trade your all star for a 27yr old solid center that has reached his ceiling and Greg smith who is a third string powerforward on a team that doesn't know who their power forward will be. That's just stupid
  • rockets best fan says 8 months ago

    @JG

    1. at no time have I said Lin would be easy to trade. if you remember I called his contract an anvil. those aren't easy to trade. now is it possible?.....YES

    2.Portland may want T-Jones or D-Mo, but who says we have to give them up? the choice is ours and ours alone. however to imply that G-Smith is worthless to Portland, but may emerge into a starting PF here is questionable don't you think?

    3. If Portland moves LMA they are rebuilding. you think they would have no need for an good prospect PF and center who has proven he can anchor a defense.......I disagree. as a matter of fact that's exactly what I think they will be looking for

  • thejohnnygold says 8 months ago

    kinda like you did for Lin in TheLMA discussion?

    Not really. I'm not saying Smith is terrible and then implying we can just trade him to other teams for their starting PF who is allegedly superior.

    That would be what was happening with Lin--and that has been true for all the Lin discussion. He can't be both terrible and easily traded at the same time.

    My stance on Smith--and you should agree with this--is if you're Portland, and you know Houston wants LMA and you know you need a replacement PF are you really going to settle on Smith out of the 3 available to choose from???? I seriously doubt it. It's about maintaining a steady perspective regardless of which angle you are looking from. If I was Portland I would take both Jones and Motie--at that point I've got T-Rob, Jones, and Motie and I can package one of them to try and make another upgrade.

  • Steven says 8 months ago Smith is Gar-Bage. Luther Head and Moochie Norris would be better then him holding onto the roster spot. (Lin too.)
  • rockets best fan says 8 months ago

    When I mean by insane, I mean your obsession isn't very healthy for you. LA is the only thing you talk about, that or lin sucks and we need to trade him along with asik and half the team for LA. I wish to keep intellectual conversation with you if you keep it within the realm realism.

    we were talking in a LMA tread....or did you notice? same for Lin. if you don't want to talk about those 2 players stay out of their treads....simple as that. I too wish to keep intellectual conversation, but not in what you consider to be your world of reality. believe it or not all people think like you or see every situation through your eyes. it doesn't make them better or worse than you .....just different.

  • Buckko says 8 months ago

    @Buckko

    WHY do you waste you time talking to me.....I'm insane according to you........ahh but that brings to mind a question.....who is more insane? the insane person talking or the person that keeps talking to the insane person and getting angry about it? :unsure:

    When I mean by insane, I mean your obsession isn't very healthy for you. LA is the only thing you talk about, that or lin sucks and we need to trade him along with asik and half the team for LA. I wish to keep intellectual conversation with you if you keep it within the realm realism.

  • rockets best fan says 8 months ago

    @Buckko

    WHY do you waste you time talking to me.....I'm insane according to you........ahh but that brings to mind a question.....who is more insane? the insane person talking or the person that keeps talking to the insane person and getting angry about it? :unsure:

  • Buckko says 8 months ago

    kinda like you did for Lin in TheLMA discussion?

    Get over your obsession with LMA, Bosh and Love are better anyways.

  • Buckko says 8 months ago

    you mentioned Smith for improvement? the man you think is worth nothing. for you say that he has a chance to be starting PF......I'm surprised to say the least

    He's extremely athletic for his size and can posterize, he just needs to be more aggressive on the boards and in the paint, learn some rim protection from asik and howard and learn a mid-range jumpshot. Jones will be the starter but Smith could become a valuable rope player.

  • rockets best fan says 8 months ago

    RBF, I have never said Smith is worth nothing--I like him a lot and still think he will be a solid player in time.

    You're taking my thoughts from the Aldridge trade and applying them here. I have, and still do, think that you cannot reasonably think Portland will look at Greg Smith as a viable replacement for Aldridge. I doubt you do either. Before you mention Asik--I have rebuffed that fully--they don't want Asik--they have Lopez.

    kinda like you did for Lin in TheLMA discussion?

  • thejohnnygold says 8 months ago

    RBF, I have never said Smith is worth nothing--I like him a lot and still think he will be a solid player in time.

    You're taking my thoughts from the Aldridge trade and applying them here. I have, and still do, think that you cannot reasonably think Portland will look at Greg Smith as a viable replacement for Aldridge. I doubt you do either. Before you mention Asik--I have rebuffed that fully--they don't want Asik--they have Lopez.

  • rockets best fan says 8 months ago

    I'd say it is too soon to tell regarding Casspi and Williams. Odds are only one of them contributes significantly, but who knows.

    Garcia is listed as a SG, but has the size to play SF so he can spell both Harden and Parsons and rack up a solid 20-24 minutes/game.

    I don't think we will see a whole lot of Parsons at PF this season. One of Smith, Jones, Motie will have improved enough to earn that starter's spot.

    I understand the longing for a big name PF, but I disagree that we are not ready to contend.

    you mentioned Smith for improvement? the man you think is worth nothing. for you say that he has a chance to be starting PF......I'm surprised to say the least

  • thejohnnygold says 8 months ago

    I'd say it is too soon to tell regarding Casspi and Williams. Odds are only one of them contributes significantly, but who knows.

    Garcia is listed as a SG, but has the size to play SF so he can spell both Harden and Parsons and rack up a solid 20-24 minutes/game.

    I don't think we will see a whole lot of Parsons at PF this season. One of Smith, Jones, Motie will have improved enough to earn that starter's spot.

    I understand the longing for a big name PF, but I disagree that we are not ready to contend.

  • Buckko says 8 months ago

    I disagree with the general theme of this post. My apologies.
    I get signing Garcia. He was a pleasant surprise last season/playoffs and we need a good wing shooter. Also, I am sure that we should take a bet on under-coached/under-utilized players from other teams (like we did with Lowry), but signing all three projects and a really old Camby doesn't seem to me like all that great.

    I think most agree that we are one good move away from really contending. Probably we will have to send Asik and someone else (Bev or Lin) somewhere like Portland or Minni for a strong PF. I think only then will we be in the position to attract the kind of vets and SA and Miami have been able to bring in. Where is our Battier or Ray Allen? That is who we should be measuring our vets signing by.

    Garcia is great...and hopefully one of the rescue projects ends up huge for us but I don't think we can say that Morey has done a great job filling out the other parts of the roster until Steve Nash or Dirk or someone signs with us to truely chase a ring.

    My guess is Morey knows this, which is why almost all of these contracts can go bye bye at the end of the year, but still....we are just decent contenders to make a run for the championship. We are not a SA, Heat or Thunder type team. At least not yet.

    Please explain to me why we are not on the top. Also Garcia is better than Battier at this stage in his career. Camby is meant for insurance and a veteran big man and trust me we are keeping asik. He's far too valuable, with him and D12 as the best 1-2 punch at center we will have a top 5 defense along with our #2 offense. Your star PF wouldn't be able to do that.

  • John P says 8 months ago

    I disagree with the general theme of this post. My apologies.
    I get signing Garcia. He was a pleasant surprise last season/playoffs and we need a good wing shooter. Also, I am sure that we should take a bet on under-coached/under-utilized players from other teams (like we did with Lowry), but signing all three projects and a really old Camby doesn't seem to me like all that great.

    I think most agree that we are one good move away from really contending. Probably we will have to send Asik and someone else (Bev or Lin) somewhere like Portland or Minni for a strong PF. I think only then will we be in the position to attract the kind of vets and SA and Miami have been able to bring in. Where is our Battier or Ray Allen? That is who we should be measuring our vets signing by.

    Garcia is great...and hopefully one of the rescue projects ends up huge for us but I don't think we can say that Morey has done a great job filling out the other parts of the roster until Steve Nash or Dirk or someone signs with us to truely chase a ring.

    My guess is Morey knows this, which is why almost all of these contracts can go bye bye at the end of the year, but still....we are just decent contenders to make a run for the championship. We are not a SA, Heat or Thunder type team. At least not yet.

  • Buckko says 8 months ago

    If we make some moves, one guy who I think would fit well with the Rockets, first as a deep reserve but I think he could play his way into the rotation, is Al Harrington. It appears as though the Magic are going to release him at some point (reports I've heard as his contract is only partially guarenteed and he is not in their plans), and he's a solid (definitely not great) rebounder, and a stretch 4 who is a career 35% 3-point shooter. He has shot 40% or better before, and I think on this team, in this role, he could be a solid player. This is if we make some sort of deal and we have some more roster space

    We don't have any roster space and we already have 3 stretch 4s in Jones, demo, and parsons if we go small.

  • Ostrow says 8 months ago

    If we make some moves, one guy who I think would fit well with the Rockets, first as a deep reserve but I think he could play his way into the rotation, is Al Harrington. It appears as though the Magic are going to release him at some point (reports I've heard as his contract is only partially guarenteed and he is not in their plans), and he's a solid (definitely not great) rebounder, and a stretch 4 who is a career 35% 3-point shooter. He has shot 40% or better before, and I think on this team, in this role, he could be a solid player. This is if we make some sort of deal and we have some more roster space

  • Buckko says 8 months ago

    Its kinda sad how bad teams can kill player's careers like Williams, Casspi, and Brooks. I hope we can return them to some former greatness with this young contending team.