HOUSTON – It used to be that NBA free agency tipped off at the stroke of midnight as the calendar turned to July. That made for some interesting overnight developments and perhaps late night dinners with players and agents as general managers tried to seal the deal on their top targets.
Those days are gone now as the NBA, in a smart move, debuted the new 5 p.m. free agency start time on Sunday.
As the floodgates opened, decisions flowed in quickly and starts were abruptly off the market in the blink of an eye.
Who was the Rockets top priority?
It was the worst-kept secret in the NBA: The Rockets had their eyes on Sixers guard Jimmy Butler.
The Tomball native was ready for a new home and the Rockets wanted their shot. Their meeting, however, was not set to take place until sometime this week and not on Sunday.
Butler and his reps had Miami on the radar and gave the Heat first crack, and it all paid off with a four-year, $142 million deal. Butler was headed to South Beach where he preferred to be the man in Miami and have the organization build around him.
You can’t blame him for that. He wouldn’t get that in Houston and most believed his personality would likely clash with James Harden and perhaps Chris Paul. All three would want the rock and Butler wouldn’t be satisfied.
The Rockets losing Butler to the Heat was good news, most likely, for guys like Clint Capela, Eric Gordon and P.J. Tucker. In a scenario involving Butler and the sign-and-trade that would be tied into any deal, Capela was certainly one guy who would have been left out in Houston.
Boston was intrigued, as was Sacramento, according to many reports.
Gordon and Tucker’s future was to be determined. All three love Houston and want to remain with the Rockets and run it back again in 2019-2020 when the Rockets will be a contender but likely not the favorite.
On Sunday, the Rockets reportedly met with Lakers big man Javale McGee who spent last season with the Los Angeles Lakers.
JaVale McGee stats:
- 7 feet, 270 pounds
- 2018-2019 season: 12.5 PPG, 7.5 Reb with Lakers
- Drafted: First round (18th pick) 2008 by Washington
- College: Nevada
- NBA: 13 years (Washington, Denver, Philly, Dallas, Golden State and Lakers)
Who is now signed and set to return?
So far the Rockets have spent their time since free agency opened by re-signing three players from their team this past season.
Danuel House got a three-year, $11 million deal. There was a one-year deal for Gerald Green, who is a big-time fan favorite, and then on Monday, they agreed to a two-year contract for just over $2.2 million. Austin Rivers has a player option for the second year on his contract.