Looking up and down the roster of the Houston Rockets, there are a lot of guys there with smaller deals or team options.
That’s by design, of course, in order to maintain maximum financial flexibility with the hopes of landing a top-level free agent — like Dwight Howard, for example.
The latest moves, announced by Rockets GM Daryl Morey, clear even more salary cap space so the team can eventually have enough room to offer Howard the max contract he’ll require in free agency.
That’s Carlos Delfino and Aaron Brooks, who are now unrestricted free agents.
There will be some interest around the league for Delfino’s skill set, which includes serviceable three-point shooting and perimeter defense. He averaged 10.6 points in 25.2 minutes per game off the bench for Houston last season.
Brooks has bounced around a bit recently, but he does offer some speed and scoring ability that teams may be able to utilize in a backup role if the price is right.
Houston has one more transaction pending, and that’s to try and trade Thomas Robinson without taking back any salary in return — which is something they’ve been trying to do for a month now. That’ll be the last piece of the puzzle from a cap perspective to prepare for what the team hopes will be Howard’s eventual arrival.
Chris Paul broke his finger Saturday.
The initial diagnosis said the injury wasn’t serious.
Ben Bolch of the Los Angeles Times:
Paul obviously wouldn’t push it during the preseason. If the Clippers are allowing him to play, this can’t be bad.
Really, the most challenging aspect to this is grasping the concept that a broke finger can be a minor injury.
Brad Stevens has a big challenge this year – sorting the Celtics’ deep roster of similarly able players.
It seems that process is shaking out at power forward and center.
A. Sherrod Blakely of CSN Northeast:
it appears Boston’s first four bigs will be starters David Lee and Tyler Zeller, with Amir Johnson and Kelly Olynyk off the bench.
That leaves Jonas Jerebko and Jared Sullinger, potentially on the outside looking in as far as the regular rotation is concerned.
Lee is the best passer of the bunch, which could partially explain why he’s starting. Boston’s most likely starting point guard, Marcus Smart, is still growing into the role of the lead ball-handler at the NBA level. Lee and presumptive starting shooting guard Avery Bradley can take some pressure off him.
Olynyk can space the floor for Isaiah Thomas-Johnson pick-and-rolls with the reserves and run pick-and-pops with Thomas himself.
I’m a little surprised Zeller is starting over Johnson, though. The Celtics just signed Johnson to a $12 million salary, and I thought they’d rely on his defense to set a tone early. Like Johnson, Zeller is a quality pick-and-roll finisher who can thrive with Thomas.
This is particularly bad news for Sullinger, who – barring a surprising contract extension – is entering a contract year. It seems those reports of offseason conditioning haven’t yet paid off. Jerebko’s deal also isn’t guaranteed beyond this season, but at least he has already gotten his mid-sized payday. Sullinger is still on his rookie-scale contract.