UNDER CONTRACT: G Kevin Martin, G Jeremy Lin, C Omer Asik, G Shaun Livingston, F Patrick Patterson, F Marcus Morris, G Toney Douglas, G Carlos Delfino, G Gary Forbes, F Jon Brockman, F Chandler Parsons, F JaJuan Johnson, G Scott Machado
DRAFT PICKS: F-C Donatas Motiejunas (2011), G Jeremy Lamb, F Royce White, F Terrence Jones
FREE AGENTS: G Earl Boykins, F Sean Williams
MOVES: Virtually every move made this offseason by GM Daryl Morey was geared toward putting together a package of young players and draft picks that he hoped would be enough to acquire Dwight Howard from Orlando. It didn’t work. The “poison pill” signings of RFAs Jeremy Lin and Omer Asik to similar backloaded three-year, $25 million deals – both will be making nearly $15 million in 2014-15 – now will have to be the foundation of a young team rather than the acquisition of trade assets. Before the draft, Morey dealt Samuel Dalembert to Milwaukee for a swap of first-round picks and three dumpable players (he already has waived Jon Leuer). Unable to package his three first-round picks for a higher pick to dangle for Howard, he now has three rookies on his roster. Houston dealt Kyle Lowry to Toronto for Gary Forbes and a limited-protection first-round pick. It also traded aging Marcus Camby to New York in a sign-and-trade that netted two second-round picks, $2 million and young players Toney Douglas, Josh Harrellson and Jerome Jordan – the latter two who were waived. In another sign-and-trade, the Rockets sent Courtney Lee to Boston, getting back a 2013 second-round pick and youngsters JaJuan Johnson, E’Twaun Moore and Sean Williams, the latter two who were released. For now, the point belongs to Lin, with Lowry gone and free agent Goran Dragic signing with Phoenix. And the post belongs to Asik, with the amnesty clause being used on Luis Scola to remove $9.4 million from the payroll. Morey also signed Carlos Delfino to a one-year deal with a player option. Late in the offseason, the Rockets made the long-rumored move of signing undrafted rookie Scott Machado, who led the NCAA in assists last season.
TO-DO LIST: All that wheeling and dealing has a price. Kevin Martin is Houston’s only player making more than $5 million next season; he also is the only Rocket who has averaged double figures for his career. Houston still has a buffet line of young players and future draft picks to package for another star, perhaps at the trading deadline. Right now, the most attractive pieces are Johnson, Chandler Parsons, Jeremy Lamb and the 2013 first-rounder from Toronto. In January, Lin and Asik become desirable chips. Before then, however, Morey has another issue: His team payroll is hovering around the mandatory floor of 85 percent of the salary cap, and he has the offseason maximum of 20 players on his roster.
PROJECTION: Morey outsmarted the Knicks on Lin and the Bulls on Asik but may have outsmarted himself in his pursuit of Howard. The GM tried to keep his team as a viable trade partner for the Magic. But now that Howard has landed in LA, Houston’s current roster of untested kids with no proven leader will easily lose 60-plus games.
(RELATED: What grade did the Rockets get?)
For offseason analysis of every team, click here.