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Rockets Overhaul Roster in Flurry of Deals

After not re-upping Stephen Silas in the offseason and hiring new coach Ime Udoka, it was clear that the Rockets were going to make some significant changes to a roster that had been at the bottom of the league for three straight years. It wasn’t enough to select high draft picks that yielded rotation players like Jalen Green, Alperen Sengun and Jabari Smith, Jr. To make the move to “phase two” as they refer to it over at Toyota Center, they needed veteran help.

Over the weekend, they took steps in that direction via a bevy of activity after the official opening of NBA free agency. The resulting deals and signings left them with four new players and the dealing of four of their own to other teams. Let’s break it down.


Fred VanVleet (3 years, $30 million — third year team is a team option)

This is the marquis signing of the offseason. The 29-year-old point guard is one of the best defensive points in the NBA and is coming off a year where he averaged 7.2 assists and ]two turnovers per game to go with almost 20 points and two steals. He is one of the league’s best in deflections and has a solid shooting stroke from beyond the arc. He immediately becomes the guy Udoka can make his floor general and someone the team can lean on to lead the offense. He’s also an instant defensive upgrade in the backcourt.

Dillon Brooks (4 years, $80 million – sign and trade with Memphis)

Brooks most recent claim to fame is poking at LeBron James during the playoffs in a foolish f-around-and-find-out moment, but the brash young wing is also one of the league’s best perimeter defenders — he was second team all-defense last season. The fact that he inked a four-year deal means the Rockets consider him a part of their long-term plans despite his fiery attitude and sometimes poor decision making on the floor. No doubt GM Rafael Stone and Udoka believe they can channel Brooks into an elite defender and get him back to a player that shoots 37-plus percent from distance.

Jock Landale (4 years, $32 million – only the first year is guaranteed)

While Brooks and VanVleet were high on the Rockets wish list, their desired big man target, Brook Lopez, re-signed with Milwaukee. Still needing depth in the frontcourt, the team opted for Phoenix back up big Landale, who played well for the Suns in last year’s postseason. The Aussie center will provide backup support to Sengun and Smith.

Jeff Green (1 year, $6 million)

The Rockets said they wanted veteran leadership and there might be no one more veteran in the league than Green, heading into his sixteenth NBA season. He’s one of the more well respected players around the NBA and played part of a season in Houston during the 2019-20 season. Green will provide frontcourt depth and certainly a steadying voice in the locker room.


KJ Martin (traded to the Clippers for two second round picks)

For all his athleticism and slow but steady improvements, Martin was a bit of a round peg trying to be fit into a square hole. He’s too small for the frontcourt, but doesn’t really play the kind of defense or shoot well enough to be a strictly perimeter player. Ultimately, he got caught up in a numbers game with so many other young guys on the roster. This had been coming for a while. It’s a shame the Rockets couldn’t have done it sooner when they might have gotten more in return. In the end, this was about clearing space for other players, both financially and on the floor.

Usman Garuba (traded to Atlanta)

From day one, when Garuba had to arrive late to camp due to his obligations with the Spanish team and promptly got injured, it just felt he could never quite get his footing in Houston. The undersized big man has all the tools to be a very good defensive player in the NBA, and has been working hard on improving his long distance shooting. Hopefully, he can help Atlanta and get his career on track.

TyTy Washington (traded to Atlanta)

Washington could never break into the Rockets rotation with their odd and sometimes frustrating commitment to Daishen Nix, who never managed to be the player the team hoped he would be. With the drafting of Amen Thompson at pick four in this year’s draft, the writing was on the wall for Washington, who could thrive in the right environment.

Josh Christopher (traded to Memphis)

When Christopher was taken with the Rockets final pick in the historic (for the Rockets) 2021, he was the only one to have played college ball. His history as a friend of Jalen Green and his relentless love of running the floor seemed like a great fit for the young squad. By the end of his rookie season, he was a fixture in the lineup, scoring 30 against the T’Wolves in April of 2022. But, his second year saw him slip out of the rotation, appearing in 64 games and averaging just over 12 minutes per. His skills are there, but his inconsistency seemed to be his downfall. He’ll try to bounce back with the Grizzlies.

Source: www.houstonpress.com