Yao Ming's Foot is a Big Pain for the Rockets
A franchise center is perhaps the most important piece to a championship puzzle. There are not many in the NBA anymore, Dwight Howard is the best example of one today. But Yao Ming certainly is one, and he might miss the entire 2009-2010 season or his career, causing the Rockets to really think about their long term actions.
The 2009 Rockets did surprisingly well without Tracy McGrady for most of the season. Veterans Ron Artest, Shane Battier and a cast of talented young players were able to take the eventual champion Los Angeles Lakers to seven games in the western conference semifinals.
But without Yao Ming, the Rockets were unable to contain Pau Gasol and Andrew Bynum of the Lakers. Houston’s height advantage with Yao in the lineup was apparent as the supporting cast of big men are mostly undersized.
Now with Yao’s season and career in jeapordy, the Rockets face some crucial offseason decisions. Tracy MacGrady’s declining skills and large contract make him a trade possibilty. Ron Artest is a free agent, and will likely get a nice offer from Houston to try to keep him.
As far as outside the organization, there are several big man free agents that will be available July 1st, 2009. Carlos Boozer, Paul Millsap, and Rasheed Wallace are all free agents, with Millsap being a restricted FA.
A quick fix at guard could be adding Mike Bibby or Jason Kidd at point guard. While one of these players coming to Houston is unlikely, each of these guys would allow the offense to flow more freely, and take the ball out of Ron Artest’s hands and allow him to move without the ball.
If the Rockets choose to part ways with McGrady, they will need more scoring if a solution is not brought in as part of the trade. Allen Iverson, and Ben Gordon are free agents, and can light up the scoresheet every night.
A better solution would be to wait until next year’s free agent class, where the likes of Dwayne Wade, Lebron James, Amare Stoudemire, Chris Bosh are free agents. Also, scorers like Joe Johnson and Michael Redd will be free agents and would likely cost less then the aforementioned superstars of the 2010 free agent class.
As Yao has more tests and is able to decide his future better, the Rockets’ offseason plan will begin to take form. Big men are not hard to find and even harder to develop.
Ron Artest is not a young guy and will not want to wait a few years to rebuild. Trading Tracy McGrady to free up cap space will allow Houston flexibilty to go after big name free agents this summer and next summer.
The Rockets have a good core of players, and if they are successful at bringing in talent, or clearing cap space, they could be contenders for the Western title for a long while.
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