It might not have surprised too many people when the Houston Rockets said they’d let coach Rick Adelman walk away after this season. Technically, they both decided to part ways when his contract’s up at the end of June. The club is searching high and low for a replacement and a couple dozen names have already been mentioned as possible candidates such as Kevin McHale and Sam Cassell.
But will a new coach make much of a difference to the Rockets? They’ve missed the playoffs the past two years despite posting a 43-39 record this season. And in truth, Adelman’s record with the club wasn’t bad at all at 108-56 for a 65.9 winning percentage. It’s obvious a coach is needed, but what else do the Rockets need to make it back to the playoffs?
Looking up and down their roster there’s nobody that really jumps out other than Yao Ming, who’s still relatively young at 30, but has been injury prone lately. The Rockets have a solid squad, but something’s missing. What they really need is a superstar to be the face of the franchise and to provide some entertainment for the fans.
Chuck Hayes, Luis Scola, and Kevin Martin may put in an honest effort night after night, but it’s not enough to get them in the NBA playoffs. Gone are the days of Moses Malone, Hakeem Olajuwon, and Elvin Hayes.
Houston needs to make some changes to be considered a serious contender. A free-agent big man would help and a few minor moves are more likely than a rebuilding job. But perhaps this team really should start over from scratch and make some major moves instead of minor ones.
The Rockets don’t have a top-five go-to player and it doesn’t really appear there’s one on the horizon. They have several good youngsters such as Terrence Williams, Chase Budinger, Jordan Hill, Courtney Lee, Hasheem Thabeet, and Patrick Patterson on the books and they could all turn into great players. However, it’s unlikely any of them are superstar material. Kevin Martin might be the closest thing to a legitimate star, but he’s not good enough defensively to reach the elite level.
An NBA star would do wonders for this organization because it has a pretty decent supporting cast in place. There are some free agent centers available such as Nene, Marc Gasol, DeAndre Jordan, Nazr Mohammed, Nenad Krstic, and Samuel Dalembert, but it’s unlikely any top free agents have Houston on the top of their wish lists. This means the club might have to draft well to strengthen the team.
They’re in good position to do that with a total of five first-round picks coming in the next three years, but none of them are likely to be a high lottery pick. They could package some players in trades, such as Scola, who could be pretty valuable to a contending team, as well as Kyle Lowry and Martin. It’d be tough to give them up, but in reality, Houston isn’t likely going to turn into a contender for a few more years.
It’s a tough decision to rebuild a team, but if it isn’t done, the Rockets could wallow in mediocrity for several more years. It’s time to cash in some assets and acquire players that will be around for a few years to come.