As of this writing, the Houston Rockets reportedly have their eyes set on Philadelphia 76ers wingman Jimmy Butler, though as ESPN recently suggested, this could involve a sign-and-trade deal that would require the Rockets to send a number of players to the Sixers in order to acquire the four-time All-Star. But with Houston lacking the cap space to make big moves in free agency without having to trade away a player or two, a new report suggests that the Rockets are looking at a number of cheaper free agent alternatives, including the likes of Golden State Warriors big man Kevon Looney.
Citing a subscriber-only report from The Athletic’s Sam Amick, NBC Sports Bay Area wrote that Looney, who will become an unrestricted free agent on Sunday evening, is one of several players the Rockets are supposedly considering this summer. Per Amick, the Rockets are “limited” to the midlevel exception, which means they could go over the salary cap by signing one player to a contract that will pay them at least $5.7 million, but not have to pay the NBA’s luxury tax for exceeding the cap.
As Amick noted, the Rockets also appear to be interested in wingmen Danny Green (Toronto Raptors) and Jeremy Lamb (Charlotte Hornets), combo forward Al-Farouq Aminu (Portland Trail Blazers), and big men DeAndre Jordan (New York Knicks) and Brook Lopez (Milwaukee Bucks).
Regarding the chances of Kevon Looney specifically going to the Houston Rockets, NBC Sports Bay Area stressed that it’s obvious the Warriors won’t sign the 23-year-old forward/center to a maximum contract, even if they own his Bird rights in full. However, the publication added that Golden State now has more money to spend on re-signing players, which could give them a decent chance of re-signing Looney.
While Looney suffered an injury in Game 2 of this year’s NBA Finals that would likely require a recovery time of six to eight weeks, NBC Sports Bay Area wrote that he should be “at full strength” once training camps open toward the end of September. Per Basketball-Reference, the UCLA product started 24 out of 80 regular-season games in the 2018-19 NBA season, averaging 6.3 points, 5.2 rebounds, and 1.5 assists and shooting a remarkable 62.5 percent from the field.
Talking about the Rockets’ other rumored free agency targets, USA Today’s Rockets Wire wrote in May that Lopez could be a good addition after revitalizing his career with the Bucks, as he could contribute as a floor spacer on a team that features James Harden and Chris Paul in the backcourt, as well as on defense, where he remains one of the NBA’s better shot blockers.
Meanwhile, Sporting News highlighted Green’s three-point shooting ability and Aminu’s reputation as a “versatile” defender, also pointing out that Lamb — who was originally drafted by the Rockets in 2012 — had a career year with the Hornets in 2018-19. Lastly, Jordan was described as someone who could still help out as a rebounder and rim-protector despite how he has “regressed” in recent years.