Rockets will target Nene in free agency, and if they donít get him, will consider a full-blown reconstruction.
Iíve loved the NBA since Bill Russell and Wilt Chamberlain faced off in the finals. Iíve covered three different teamsóMavericks, Bulls and Wizardsóand had the time of my life doing it. I especially love our NBA team. The Rockets do things right. Itís big things like the arena and small things like the uniforms and logo.
Itís an owner, Leslie Alexander, who might be the model for every other in professional sports. He hires competent people and gives them the resources and freedom to do their job. Itís a team president, Tad Brown, who has led the way in making Toyota Center a great place to watch basketball. Itís a general manager, Daryl Morey, who will one day make the Rockets great again.
This is a great day. Iíve missed the NBA terribly and am thrilled the owners and players finally have struck a deal. Weíre a month away from seeing the Rockets back at Toyota Center. In the end, the owners got the rollbacks they said they needed, and if the new deal evens the playing field, then this delay was worth it.
The Rockets have some hard decisions to make. Theyíre going all out for free-agent center Nene. Heís 29 years old and coming off a season in which he averaged 14.5 points and 7.0 rebounds per game. Nene is 6-11, 250 pounds, and Morey believes putting him in a lineup with Kyle Lowry and Kevin Martin would give the Rockets three to build around.
If the Morey doesnít get him, they could again be fighting for the eighth seed, far from being a team capable of winning in the playoffs. Theyíd be entertaining and all that, but they wouldnít be where Leslie Alexander wants them to be.
Thatís where the tough decision comes in. If they canít land an impact player in free agency, is it time to rebuild and position themselves for Anthony Davis or Andre Drummond or another high draft pick next summer?
Alexander has resisted rebuilding, instead urging Morey to keep adding and to keep the Rockets as competitive as possible. Morey has done a very good job acquiring talent, but not Kobe Bryant-type talent. As the last 2-3 years have played out, the Rockets have become more and more convinced that the draft is the best way to acquire those guys.
At least we wonít have to wait long for answers. Free agency is expected to begin around December 9, with the regular season beginning December 25. This is a new chapter for the Rockets, with Kevin McHale (94 games) taking over for Rick Adelman (1,561 games). This is also the first off-season Morey hasnít been limited by the contracts of either T-Mac, Yao or both.
No matter how it plays out, weíre finally going to see the best athletes on earth doing their thing. I canít wait.