As we play out the final days of the 2011-'12 NBA regular season, we take a look at each franchise. Who emerged, what went wrong, what lies ahead. A look at post season chances, long term potential and upgrades possible in this summer's NBA draft. We continue in the Southwest Division of the Western Conference with the Houston Rockets.
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The Rockets want to make some noise this season and making the playoffs is a start. Currently one game back in the race for the eighth and final spot in the Western Conference, Houston acquired Marcus Camby at the deadline. Kyle Lowry and Courtney Lee have been solid and Chandler Parsons and Chase Budinger are competing at the three. Kevin Martin's injury has hurt and his presence will be necessary should Houston qualify for the second season.
The Rockets are $13 million dollars under the cap, putting them in good shape for free agency in the off season. A developmental center and a shooting guard with range should be targeted.
Houston's draft selection should land pretty close to mid-round. The Rockets also holding Minnesota's second round pick, in addition to their own. North Carolina's Tyler Zeller and Illinois' Myers Leonard may be available in the first round. Texas A&M swingman Kris Middleton and Georgetown's Henry Sims may be second round options.
With nearly $20 million due over the next two seasons, Luis Scola may be an attractive amnesty target. It's also possible Houston may move him via the trade route.
The Good: Houston has a good young core of guards in Lowry, Martin and Lee. If either Patrick Patterson or Marcus Morris can emerge at the four, the Rockets will have the base of a solid front court as Parsons and Budinger continue to battle at the three. Dalembert is a stop gap as Houston continues it search for a franchise center.
The Bad: The loss of Yao Ming has left the Rockets devoid of veteran leadership. Houston gave up on Hakeem Thabeet and Jonny Flynn for the two month rental of Camby. Parsons and Budinger are complimentary talent, but would be more effective with a solid presence in the paint. Lowry looked like a future All-Star early on, but has faded a bit. Goran Dragic has pushed at the point, but may depart via free agency. Management hopes Martin's injuries are not chronic.
Houston has ten players under contract for next season. Center's Samuel Dalembert and Greg Smith have non-guaranteed contracts, although the former will likely return. Courtney Lee has a qualifying offer and will likely draw substantial interest as a restricted free agent. Houston has a team option on Chase Budinger and will likely exercise what is a very affordable number. Marcus Camby's days may be numbered, we wouldn't be surprised if this is his last run. Goran Dragic will be a popular free agent and Houston would be well served to bring him back to compete with Kyle Lowry.
Why read boxscores when you can find out everything that happened in Howard Bender's nightly Fantasy Baseball Roundup
Samuel Dalembert, Greg Smith
Luis Scola, Patrick Patterson, Marcus Morris, Chandler Parsons, Chase Budinger
Kevin Martin, Kyle Lowry, Courtney Lee
Marcus Camby, Goran Dragic
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Tom Blaz is a writer for Fantasy Alarm and co-owner of The Recruiting Eagle a website focusing on Auburn University Athletics.
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