Things didn’t pan out as planned for the Rockets this season, but last night it was reported that they will still pick up the option on coach Kevin McHale for next season. The Rockets couldn’t get out of the first round, but they finished as the fourth seed this season with 54 wins, their most since the 2007/08 season. The coaching situation may be spoken for heading into the offseason, but there’s still plenty more on the docket for GM Daryl Morey & Co. Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle sat down with Morey to discuss what could be on the agenda this summer. Here’s a look at some of the highlights..
Can this team get better just by adding rotation players, as opposed to a major overhaul or another summer with a major addition?
We’re always aggressive. We’ll always explore aggressive scenarios. But I feel confident if those don’t emerge, we’re not far off. We need to get (the record) into the high 50s if we’re going to be as good as we want to be. We need to improve our defense primarily. We were the youngest team in the league (in the post-season, fourth youngest and second least experienced in the regular season) and improving so an addition or two that are key, I feel confident we can make that step forward that we need to make.
We made a big leap forward with the addition of Dwight (Howard) and the growth of our young players to get to the mid-50 range. I think we’ve got to take one more step forward. But I think the average NBA title team won 57 games so we’re not far off. We’re not like prior to adding Dwight a major piece away to where I feel need not a small piece, but also not a franchise-changing piece away.
To be a true championship contender do you have to get a third All-Star caliber guy or do you just need to add a group of strong rotation players?
I would always take a third All-Star guy either from one of our guys improving or addition. There’s no negative to adding an All-Star level player. That said, I don’t feel it’s necessary. I do feel it’s my job to explore those things. I think our group playing more together after only a season together plus a lot of young players that can take a step forward and improve, plus we’ve got financial flexibility this year. We’re not limited to minimum player additions.
We have all our draft picks going forward to execute trades if necessary. We’ve got a lot of flexibility to improve. It’s my job to get that done and the players’ job to work on their games over the summer. The coaches are taking another look at our strategies and deciding what we’re going to do different next year to improve.
Because of their contract situations, the next largest after Dwight Howard and James Harden, do any moves need to involve Jeremy Lin and/or Omer Asik?
I don’t expect something bigger like that to happen. I could see where you would look to that if something bigger were to happen, but I don’t anticipate that.
If you were to go for a third max or near max guy, could you make it happen financially?
Yeah, we could make it happen. I think it’s unlikely.
How do you make a decision on picking up the option on Chandler Parsons’ contract when you don’t know what will happen in free agency two weeks after your deadline to make a decision?
We won’t know everything we need to know when we have to make a decision on on Chandler’s (contract) option. We have to make the best decision at the time we have to make it (June 29).
That sounds as if you have not made that decision yet.
No, that’s something we still have to talk through.
Do you have any concern about Kevin McHale being in the last year of his contract next year with the ‘lame duck” issue?
No. He’s a great coach. It’s not an issue for him or for us. I don’t see it as an issue. I’ve never bought into (the lame duck factor) for any coach. Some coaches disagree and some GMs may disagree, but he’s a head coach and he does a very good job. Just like I’m reevaluating and taking a look at what I need to do differently and better, he’s doing the same and our players are the same.