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Do the Houston Rockets Have Too Much Depth?

With only a few days left until the great 2010 NBA free agent auction begins, certain things seem to be coming into focus. With Chicago and Miami completely cleaning house to make room for Wade, Lebron, Bosh and company, it’s obvious depth means less in this league than the talent of a team’s starting five. If you need more proof, look at the NBA Finals where a Lakers’ team with one good bench player (Odom), beat a talented Boston starting five with a stacked depth chart and a bench including Rasheed Wallace, Glen Davis, Nate Robinson, Tony Allen and Michael Finley.

There seems to be a major split in most Rockets’ fans I’ve talked to. Some are happy with the current team. They love the character, camaraderie and chemistry with guys like Brooks, Scola, Lowry, Battier and Hayes (and who can blame them?). They think adding Yao to a 42-win team can make the Rockets championship ready (and they’re wrong). And they believe by adding a backup center with the MLE, this team will be set for the 2010-2011 season. The other opinion is the one of fans who are still convinced Houston has a legitimate chance to sign Chris Bosh or Amare Stoudemire, and that they desperately need to (Bosh is not coming here, so give up your pipe dream).

I’ve gone both ways on this issue, but I’m beginning to lean towards the latter opinion to an extent. Assuming Houston signs a backup center with the MLE (ideally Brendan Haywood, Brad Miller or maybe Jermaine O’Neal), and keeps Lowry, Scola and Hayes, look at the following depth chart next season and tell me what the problem is:

C: Yao Ming/ MLE backup center / David Andersen

PF: Luis Scola / Jordan Hill / Chuck Hayes / Patrick Patterson

SF: Trevor Ariza /Shane  Battier / Jared Jeffries

SG: Kevin Martin / Chase Budinger / Jermaine Taylor

PG: Aaron Brooks / Kyle Lowry

See it yet? If you take away Anderson and Taylor (both likely won’t see much playing time), Houston essentially has 13 guys on the roster who would deserve significant playing time. Most teams play with an 8-10 man roster at all times. Houston is TOO deep almost.

Now I’m a firm believer that you need to be prepared in case of injuries, and this team above all others should be aware of that. However, even if Yao goes down this season, the Rockets would have the backup center (a likely assumption), Hill and Hayes to get time at center. If Martin goes down? Budinger could easily step in and start at the 2-guard, splitting time with Ariza.

All that being said, I think Houston’s current roster is playing it too safe right now. This current team is nice on paper, but it’s a #2 or #3 seed and a second or third round playoff exit at best. If I’m Morey, I’d be more than happy to trade depth for talent.

Houston has a lot of trade pieces in this group, along with draft picks. One thing the Rockets have that most teams covet is two starting-quality point guards. As much as I love Brooks and Lowry, I really believe that Morey should be doing everything he can to package one of them to improve in another area of the team (preferably SF or PF).

For example, look at a team like Indiana. They’ve already been rumored in deals to move Danny Granger for a point guard. You could probably move Brooks, Ariza and probably a young piece like Hill or Bud with draft picks and get an instant upgrade at SF for the future. That would upgrade talent, give Houston an additional 20-point scorer offensively and cut down the roster to 10-11 guys who see significant playing time. (Plus, the thought of Lowry running the point and dishing to Martin, Granger and Scola/Yao down low for the next five years are things dreams are made of) And Amare Stoudemire is still a realistic option considering the deal that almost went through in last season’s trade deadline.

Whether the Granger or Amare deals are being pursued (probably not going to happen), my point is simply that I’m not okay with Houston contently going into next season with this roster, or at least not making a move at the trade deadline. With this much trade bait and only so many minutes in an NBA game, I feel like you should always be trying to improve your overall talent. Houston’s depth is an unnecessary luxury, and while many people will say their depth is what has made this team so successful, I counter with “what success?” A 42-win season for an overachieving team makes you feel good, but it’s forgettable and I doubt very seriously that there is a Lakers fan out there who would be willing to switch their season with the Rockets.

I love this team as much as the next guy. I don’t want to give up Scola, Brooks, Lowry, Budinger or anyone else on this team if we don’t have to, and I’d be upset to see them go. But I’ll trade likable players for a championship any day, and if you don’t agree with me, then why are you a fan to begin with?

So, Morey, if you you somehow read this, I’m begging you to exhaust all trade possibilities to improve the talent on this team. Because it’s not worth it to stay pat with so much talent on other NBA rosters. And if recent rumors are true and Chicago ends up with a Rose, Lebron, Bosh trio, then the rest of the NBA should be very, very afraid right now. Everyone in Houston trusts you, and while I have no reason not to jump on the bandwagon given the improvement this team has seen since you’ve been here, I’ll never utter the phrase “In Morey we trust” until you bring a championship to Houston.


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