Rockets Keep K.J. McDaniels on 3-Year Deal
The Houston Rockets hadn’t been enjoying the best off-season. They whiffed on big free agents like LaMarcus Aldridge and Kevin Love and this past week learned that forward Josh Smith would be leaving for the Los Angeles Clippers.
A team that just reached the Western Conference Finals last year and seemed to be trending in a positive direction suddenly was taking a small step back.
The Rockets focused on the positive on Sunday, as they announced a three-year pact with swing man, K.J. McDaniels. The reported deal is worth $10 million and does not include a player option.
While not an earth-shattering signing, McDaniels brings youth, athleticism and upside to a Rockets roster that at this point just needs to fill out for the 2015-16 NBA season.
The McDaniels signing bolsters a major strength on the perimeter, where James Harden and Trevor Ariza are starters and the likes of Corey Brewer, Marcus Thornton and rookie Sam Dekker are primed to compete for minutes on the wing. McDaniels adds to the mix to give the Rockets a very strong corps of perimeter-based forwards, but it’s also another reminder that Houston still may have some work to do if they want to compete for a championship this season.
Landing a marquee point guard may be one move that still needs to be made, and that could have the team targeting Denver Nuggets star point guard, Ty Lawson. The team did bring back stud defender Patrick Beverley earlier this summer, but with Harden complaining publicly that the offense needs another ball handler and creator, it’s likely the Rockets aren’t done making noise when it comes to upgrading their roster.
McDaniels doesn’t change things for the Rockets right now, but the signing of the athletic 22-year old forward is still a positive move for Houston when looking down the road. McDaniels is at worst a fallback plan for if/when the team may have to part with Brewer or Ariza, while he’s also a strong asset they could use in future trade talks.
For now, McDaniels re-joins a strength on a potential title contender and is perhaps the move before the next big move that the Rockets may need to make to make another strong playoff run.
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