The Rockets’ offseason will be a series of small moves that may or may not culminate in Houston adding a third star to play with Dwight Howard and James Harden.
Opportunities to increase cap space and landmines that could destroy it are tied to so many players on Houston’s roster. Even how a few marginal Rockets are handled could make the difference.
Three of those moves, including the expected decline of Chandler Parsons’ option, have broken.
Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle:
The Rockets are showing a lot of trust in Parsons, and to a lesser degree, Daniels.
Parsons could nuke Houston’s cap space any time once free agency begins by signing an offer sheet with another team. The Rockets would likely match and keep Parsons, but his cap hit would immediately jump to his 2014-15 salary (likely around $10 million per year). Right now, he counts just $2,875,130 against the cap.
Daniels could accept his qualifying offer – a one-year contract worth $1,016,482 – at any time. Had Houston simply exercised his team option, he would have made just $816,482. Unless the Rockets are gung-ho about securing such a marginal player on a multi-year deal, they’ll likely pull his qualifying offer and maybe renounce him just before signing a quality free agent. In the meantime, the qualifying offer serves to cool other interested teams. In exchange for waiting to sign, I bet Daniels will get a larger salary – either through the room exception or non-bird exception.
Garcia is doing Houston a favor. He was slated to make a minimum salary, so his only risk in opting out is not getting a new contract. If he plays next year, his salary can be no lower than what he would have made by opting in. The Rockets, who could use his salary off the books while they pursue bigger fish, likely promised him a roster spot next season if he opts out. They can always go over the cap later to give him a minimum deal.
Essentially, Houston is placing some value in keeping Parsons and Daniels beyond next season. That might hinder the Rockets’ attempts to sign a star, but if they trust Parsons and Daniels, it won’t. It’s really in the players’ hands whether, and to what degree, this backfires.
With these moves, if the Rockets renounce Garcia and Jordan Hamilton, waive Omri Casspi, Robert Covington and Josh Powell (each on fully unguaranteed contracts) and take back no guaranteed salary in the Omer Asik trade, they’d fall $7,928,630 below the projected salary cap.
Pulling Daniels’ qualifying offer when the time comes would add
$509,146 in cap room. Houston could do the same with Parsons, though that’s riskier given the demand for his services, and get an extra $2,367,794 in cap room.
Really, the Rockets are inching away from maximizing their cap space, though Garcia at least helped the situation from flowing completely negative. Houston still has a lot of flexibility, though, and a Jeremy Lin trade could be the next shoe to drop. If that happens, maybe that means the Rockets are willing to lose Parsons and/or Daniels.
They’re on the clock to figure that out – essentially what it would take to land a star – before Parsons and Daniels are ready to get paid.