The latest intel has Houston ready to overpay for two free agency targets

Jalen Green, Houston Rockets (Photo by Justin Ford/Getty Images)
Jalen Green, Houston Rockets (Photo by Justin Ford/Getty Images) /

Even before free agency started, the Houston Rockets were already having a bad offseason. It started with the Rockets finding out that they would be picking fourth in the NBA draft, missing out on a potential superstar in Victor Wembanyama. That could have changed their entire off-season outlook and possibly led to the Rockets signing their former star, James Harden.

Instead, he appears poised to stay in Philadelphia, while the team’s backup plans aren’t exactly great options. With roughly $60 million in cap space and limited options in free agency, the Rockets are reportedly planning to get creative to land a star and a starter in hopes of upgrading their roster.

Houston is ready to overpay for a star this summer.

According to NBA insider Marc Stein (subscription required), the Rockets are planning to offer Fred VanVleet a two-year, $83 million deal and either Kyle Kuzma or Dillion Brooks the majority of their remaining $20 million in cap space. VanVleet was rumored to be seeking between $25 million and $30 million a season, and by overpaying him, the Rockets would all but guarantee that he signs with Houston.

Kuzma is all but certain to leave Washington but had been linked to the Los Angeles Lakers before Chris Haynes of Bleacher Report reported that he was a target for the Rockets. However, if the Rockets are planning on paying VanVleet $40 million a year, then they might not have enough to also sign Kuzma.

Meanwhile, Brooks is one of the more polarizing players in the NBA, and it is unclear who else would sign him. Overpaying for both, while probably not the best use of their cap space, would at least improve their roster since it would give them two experienced starters to pair with their young core of Jalen Green, Jabari Smith, and Alperin Sengun. They also drafted Amen Thompson as well as Cam Whitmore, who was projected to be a top-10 pick but fell to 20th, allowing them to add to their young core.

Even then, the hope was that the Rockets would be able to make a quick offseason turnaround by landing Wembanyama and bringing back Harden. The former didn’t happen, and the latter appears unlikely to happen.

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As a result, the Rockets may resort to overpaying for two players. That may not get them back to the playoffs, let alone the play-in tournament, though they do have several promising players that could improve enough to get them there.