Houston Rockets Get Their Center
The Houston Rockets have had just one goal in mind through the lockout-hurried NBA free agency period, and that is to sign a starting center.
Their list of targets was fairly easy to call, as it included the three biggest names in free agency. They signed restricted free agent center Marc Gasol to an offer sheet, which was promptly matched by the Memphis Grizzlies, failed to get an audience with for Dallas Maverick Tyson Chandler, and seemed close to landing Denver Nuggets free agent Nene, but in the end they failed on all counts.
There has been much internal debate about the next best move, as the marketplace didn’t hold many good centers, and those that were available were only marginally better than some of the guys the Rockets already have in camp, though perhaps with less upside.
Almost since the beginning of free agency the Rockets have been connected to talks regarding Sacramento Kings free agent Samuel Dalembert, though the talks were much less than aggressive on Houston’s part. Already this week we have seen headlines saying that the Rockets had called off their pursuit of Dalembert, that Dalembert was frustrated by this . . .and now, ultimately that Houston has reached an agreement with Dalembert on a two-year deal.
It’s easy to see why Houston was hesitant to commit to Dalembert, who is basically an eight-point, eight-rebound player. He is a legitimate starting center, but only because the NBA is so short on quality centers. When Hakeem Olajuwon patrolled the paint Dalembert would have been little more than a practice body. But this is a new, smaller NBA, and seven-footers are in short supply.
Is Dalembert the impact big man the Rockets were hoping for? Certainly not. He is, however, a player who can block a shot or two, take up some space in the paint, and even finish with reasonable efficiency. Under the circumstances, the Rockets couldn’t have done much better.