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One signing the Houston Rockets need to make in free agency

Aron Baynes, Rockets

The Houston Rockets had a record of 40-24 before the season was suspended due to COVID-19, putting them in sixth place in the Western Conference standings. Behind the stellar play of MVPs James Harden and Russell Westbrook, the Rockets were averaging 118.1 points per game, which was good for second in the NBA.

However, as has been the case ever since Mike D’Antoni came to Houston, the Rockets were a poor defensive team before games were suspended. Houston was giving up 114.4 points per game. That was 22nd in the NBA, as opposing defenses were carving up the Rockets left and right, more so than usual following Houston’s trade of big man Clint Capela to the Atlanta Hawks.

After the Rockets sent Capela to Atlanta, Tyson Chandler was the only true center on the roster. Houston has to either trade for a center or sign one in free agency.

Phoenix Suns center Aron Baynes is the perfect player for the Rockets to sign since he can rebound, defend and space the floor with his perimeter shooting. The 33-year-old averaged 11.5 points, 5.6 rebounds, and 1.6 assists for the Phoenix Suns this season while shooting 48.0 percent from the field, 35.1 percent from beyond the arc, and 74.7 percent from the free-throw line.

According to Tim MacMahon of ESPN, Rockets general manager Daryl Morey pulled the trigger on the Capela deal with Atlanta so the team could maximize the skills of Westbrook. After Capela was traded, Westbrook had more driving lanes to attack since there was more room on the floor to operate.

If the Rockets signed Baynes, that would still be the case since Aron doesn’t sit in the post and clog up the lane. Baynes is a good pick-and-roll/pop player and his newfound shooting skills would fit in perfectly with D’Antoni’s offense.

Defensively is where Baynes would help the Rockets the most. His 6-foot-10 frame would take the pressure off of P.J. Tucker to guard centers. Baynes is one of the strongest guys in the NBA, as his Tucker. Opposing front-courts would have nightmares trying to box out Baynes and Tucker on the boards.

Moreover, Baynes is one of the best screeners in the NBA. Opposing guards are going to feel Baynes’ strength when they are put in pick-and-rolls with him. This would be perfect for Harden and Westbrook since both Rockets’ superstars are elite drivers. The lanes the two MVPs would have going to the rim would be massive since opposing guards are going to get hung up on screens set by Baynes.

Baynes made $5.4 million this season with the Suns. He will become an unrestricted free agent this offseason and NBA execs believe he can earn a contract that will pay him well over $10 million per year.

Morey and the Rockets should make Baynes their No. 1 priority once free agency starts. The other centers that are becoming free agents don’t fit with Houston’s game plan. For example, Hassan Whiteside may be a better scorer than Baynes but he would cost the Rockets more money, and Hassan can’t space the floor since he can’t shoot 3s as Baynes can.

We should mention that D’Antoni becomes a free agent this offseason, too. So, if Morey decides to move on from D’Antoni, that might change the direction the Rockets franchise goes in. D’Antoni has won 213 regular-season games and lost just 97 since becoming the head coach of the Rockets in 2017.

The post One signing the Houston Rockets need to make in free agency appeared first on ClutchPoints.

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