The Houston Rockets’ first season under head coach Mike D’Antoni should be considered a success, regardless of the outcome of their current playoff run. However, the Raptors can actually become even more potent next season as they are projected to have some wiggle room to accommodate a serviceable player.

Rockets have room for more talent

According to Bleacher Report cap expert Dan Favale, the Rockets are actually in a pretty good position financially despite possessing the 12th highest payroll in the NBA.

The Rockets have $87.6 million in guaranteed salary on the books next season, but they can actually create some space for another productive player.

“Ditch the cap holds on Nene and Troy Williams, plus the non-guarantees on Isaiah Taylor and Kyle Wiltjer, and the Rockets forge another $6 million in space after subsequent empty roster charges. Attach that to the $5.7 million already in play, and they'll have nearly $12 million to shell out for another player,” according to Favale.

The Rockets are already a great offensive team (2nd in the league at 115.3 points allowed per game), but they can become even more dangerous if they add a backup stretch-four.

Although $12 million won’t be enough to get big men like Danilo Gallinari, Paul Millsap and Serge Ibaka, the Rockets can use it to sign someone like the Utah Jazz’ Joe Ingles.

Ingles bounced around the league until he found a home in Utah where he averaged 7.1 points and 3.2 rebounds per game. His shooting clip from beyond the arc (33 percent), along with above-average defensive awareness, make him an attractive target for Rockets GM Daryl Morey.

What to do with Nene?

Sure, the Rockets can create some space for another talent.

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However, the performance of Nene throughout the regular-season (9.1 points and 4.2 rebounds per game) and the playoffs forces Morey and his team to take a closer look at his body of work. The 34-year-old Brazilian is already way past his prime, but he proved that he’s still productive enough to take a few minutes off of Clint Capela at the center/power forward spot.

The Rockets look like a well-oiled machine with Nene on the floor, as he creates mismatch problems and pick-and-roll opportunities for himself and his teammates.

This summer, Nene is expected to get a pay-hike after agreeing to receive $2.8M as part of a one-year deal. Expect cap-rich team like the Brooklyn Nets and Philadelphia 76ers to place a significantly large contract on the table.

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