Rockets officials hope to meet with several of their top targets in Los Angeles when free agency begins in a few hours, writes Kelly Iko of The Athletic. Sources tell Iko that Houston has already set up meetings with Dillon Brooks and Brook Lopez and will try to arrange sessions with Fred VanVleet, Kyrie Irving, Bruce Brown, Dwight Powell, Jakob Poeltl and possibly Kyle Kuzma.
Brown is of particular interest because the Rockets would be willing to go above the $12.4MM non-taxpayer mid-level exception to sign him, according to Iko’s sources. Head coach Ime Udoka was an assistant in Brooklyn when Brown played there and they have maintained a good relationship, Iko adds.
With more than $60MM in cap space, Houston officials are confident about signing their main targets, according to Iko, although some may prefer teams with more recent success. He confirms that the Rockets are hoping to avoid long-term contracts and will compensate by offering players more money up front than they’re likely to get elsewhere. Shooting, defense and rim protection will be the main focus, Iko states.
There’s more on the Rockets, all courtesy of Iko:
- Houston is hoping to land a veteran point guard in free agency, but there’s a back-up plan if they can’t sign VanVleet, Irving or someone of that stature. Sources tell Iko that the Rockets would pursue someone like Brown, a strong perimeter defender who can handle the ball, and give Jalen Green and first-round pick Amen Thompson a greater share of the playmaking duties.
- Iko hears that a Kenyon Martin Jr. trade is increasingly likely, as talks with other teams have increased throughout the week. Martin may not have a place on the revamped roster, and the team could add cap room by unloading his $1.93MM contract for next season.
- Jazz guard Jordan Clarkson and Hawks center Clint Capela are two names to watch if the Rockets opt to use their cap space through trades rather than free agency. Iko notes that Utah executive Danny Ainge is reported to have interest in acquiring Martin and suggests that Houston might be willing to include second-year point guard TyTy Washington and maybe a second-round pick in a potential deal. Iko points out that Clarkson is eligible for an extension after picking up his $14.26MM option for next season and says the Rockets may offer something along the lines of $32MM over two years. Iko adds that Capela could be available straight up for Martin as Atlanta tries to shed salary.