When the Rockets reached offer-sheet agreements with Jeremy Lin and Omer Asik, they did not expect to actually get either one. Rockets general manager Daryl Morey thought the Bulls would match the offer to Asik and was sure that the Knicks would match the offer to Lin.
Morey remain convinced that the Knicks would keep Lin even after New York brought in Raymond Felton to replace him, and he expected the Knicks to match his offer right up until they didn't.
When the Rockets got both free agent targets, their rebuilding was far from complete but had its new foundation.
Just as they had hoped when they thought they traded for Pau Gasol before the season with the intention of building around him and Kyle Lowry, they had a center and a point guard to rebuild around. They had a collection of four rookies who excelled in the Las Vegas summer league. And they had ample cap room to take on a few veteran contracts if that becomes the key to work out the blockbuster deal they have sought.
"We have a lot of guys who can take a step forward," Morey said. "Where we're at, we either need players who can take a big step forward or ones who give us flexibility to add players or be able to execute a trade we need to make to get to the next level.
"You never know when that's going to happen. You can't force it. You just have to be prepared and when it happens, make the move."
The Rockets have little experience. Other than Kevin Martin, who could be the next veteran to go, the Rockets have no one who has averaged in double figures in his career. At least three starters are expected to have two or fewer seasons of experience.
The rookies -- Donatas Motiejunas, Jeremy Lamb, Royce White and Terrence Jones -- all played well in Las Vegas, but the Rockets considered that more of an encouraging sign long term than anything to bode well for next season. Other than Martin, no player considered likely to be in the rotation has a full season worth of starts.
The Rockets did, however, land the point guard and center they had pursued from the moment free agency began. They did not expect to get either, but having gotten both they consider the rebuilding off to a good start.
"The two spots you really want to have settled on your roster are your one and your five, and we feel we have that settled for at least the next three years," Morey said. "We can build around the team."
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