One of the areas that the Houston Rockets need to address this offseason is their ball-handling.
Houston had a lot of problems protecting the ball this season, and turnovers was one of the biggest reasons the Rockets fell in the Western Conference Finals to the Golden State in five games. The Rockets, who averaged a playoff worst 15.5 turnovers a game, committed 79 turnovers in the series. Perhaps, more importantly, Golden State converted the Rockets turnovers into 111 points.
A big reason for Houston’s turnover problem this postseason was that starting point guard Patrick Beverley missed the entire playoffs with a torn ligament in his wrist. So, that left the ball-handling to James Harden, Jason Terry (who is more effective at shooting guard), and Pablo Prigioni, who has issues on defense, to take over point guard duties.
Harden committed 13 of the Rockets 20 turnovers in the final game of the series against Golden State. The 2015 regular season MVP runner-up finished fourth in the postseason in scoring (27.7) and fourth in assists (7.5), but was first in turnovers (4.5). His turnover rate of 13.3 percent (13.3 turnover for every 100 times Harden touched the ball) was the third worst in the postseason.
ESPNreported that Harden told the Rockets, during team exit interviews, that he wants to alleviate some of his ball-handling responsibilities next year.
“Yeah, definitely, that’s one of the conversations that me and Daryl (Morey) are going to have, and the coaches, is one of the pieces we need to have,” Harden said. “That’s a later conversation, but we’ll be all right. We’re very confident in the group that we have and this summer we got to work hard and be ready for next year.”
Turnovers were not just an issue for Houston in the postseason, it was something that plagued the team the whole year. The Rockets ranked No. 28 in turnovers during in the regular season, turning the ball over 16.7 times a games. The Rockets also had a high turnover rate (15 percent), which, according to Basketball-Reference, advance statistics ranked No. 28 in the league.
Beverley is a restricted free agent and, as previously reported by Inquisitr, is expected to be back with the team, but the Dallas Mavericks may throw a wrench into that by throwing a large amount of money in front of him. Terry is one of the team’s three unrestricted free agents, and all said they would like to return.
The Rockets are projected to have as much as $9 million in cap space available, though if Beverley and the three unrestricted free agents return to the team, the Rockets would have considerably less cap space to pursue an attractive list of free agent point guards. Goran Dragic tops the list of unrestricted free agent point guard while Rajon Rondo, Jeremy Lin, Mo Williams, and Aaron Brooks also merit consideration.
However, SB Nation is reporting that coach Kevin McHale wants Sergio Llull to join the team next season. McHale made reference to Llull during an interview with Charlie Pallilo on Sports Talk 790.
“We’d love to bring over Sergio Llull from Spain. Signing a Sergio Llull would be huge.”
Llull is currently playing in Spain for Real Madrid. The 6-foot-3, 27-year-old, was originally drafted by the Nuggets in the second round in the 2009 draft. The Rockets purchased Llull’s draft rights from the Nuggets for $2.25 million.
Llull’s statistics won’t blow anyone away, as he is averaging 10.7 points and 4.3 assists in 63 games this season. He is considered to be a heady player and has the ability to play both guard positions. Llull also shoots the ball decently — he is making 56.4 percent of his two-point shots and 35.9 percent of his three-point shots, which equates to a solid 54.9 effective field goal percentage — and does not turn the ball over.
The question remains: does Llull want to come over to the NBA?
“The NBA is there but not I lose sleep. I want to win titles and I’m in the best place (Real Madrid) possible, ” Llull told Gigantes del Basket in an interview.
Basketball Insider’s David Pick believes the only way Llull crosses the Atlantic Ocean if the Rockets offer him a truck load of money and the starting point guard job.
[Photo by Christian Petersen]