The Houston Rockets season came to an embarrassing end Thursday evening against the San Antonio Spurs, as they were blown out by 39 points at home despite Kawhi Leonard not playing. However, aside from Thursday’s Game 6, the Rockets had a pleasant season, securing the third-best record in the NBA and going deeper into the playoffs. James Harden had an MVP-caliber year and Mike D’Antonio won Coach of the Year.

Their own free agents

Fortunately for Houston, they don’t have many critical Free Agents. Nene Hilario is the only key free-agent-to-be. He signed a bargain deal with the team last summer, accepting $2.8 million for one year. After becoming an important part of the team’s success, the Rockets would definitely want him to return. At this stage of his career, Nene is likely to accept another cheap deal to play for Houston. Outside of Nene, the Rockets don’t have to worry about retaining anyone else.

Other free agents they could look at

Houston’s defense was mostly atrocious since they focus mostly on offense under D’Antoni’s system. This summer, they must pursue some defensive specialists. P.J. Tucker could be one option for the Rockets, as the veteran swingman is a solid perimeter defender, who brings toughness and physicality at the three position. He would more than likely sign for a bargain deal.

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Another plausible option would be Tony Allen, who would accept less cash if it meant helping a contender. Allen has been one of the best perimeter defenders in the league for a while and would provide tremendous defensive help off the bench, adding plenty of energy, toughness, and intensity.

Stick with the same roster and formula

If the Rockets are able to acquire a veteran defender or two, they should then just stick to the same winning formula.

Harden has proven to play at an MVP level, and the personnel of the team fits D’Antoni’s system perfectly. They only need to improve their defense, and they could compete at a higher level. There is obviously no need to drastically alter the current roster.

Harden has shown that he doesn’t really need another superstar on the team to be effective. He just needs shooters around him and defensive aces to complete the puzzle.

The season may have ended in a disappointing fashion, but there were plenty of positives. They must now take those positives and improve on them for next season.

The Rockets are expected to be a top-three team again next year, barring any unexpected changes. Harden is slowly growing as a leader under D’Antoni, and the team chemistry is developing quickly.

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