2020-2021 Rockets roster review, off-season outlook: Sterling Brown
Brown is expected to be fully recovered from his injuries long before next season. However, it remains to be seen if not playing in the final month of the season could dampen his potential market.
On paper, Brown is young enough to interest the rebuilding Rockets, and he fits the league’s growing “3&D” profile among the wings. Unfortunately, since signing a one-year veteran’s minimum wage contract, Houston has no additional means (i.e. Bird or Early Bird rights) to keep Brown from entering the agency. free 2021.
Additionally, while Brown is a solid player, he’s not the type of transcendent talent that Houston general manager Rafael Stone would consider taking away future flexibility with the NBA salary cap to keep. The price needs to be fair, as the Rockets need to keep financial avenues open to pursue more talented players in future periods of free agency.
The Rockets would almost certainly offer Brown another minimum deal, and maybe something a little bigger – like a bi-annual exception (baby). But if there are bigger deals, Houston will likely let it go.
As to whether there will be higher bids, it’s complicated. There were absolutely times when Brown’s play far exceeded that type of salary. However, his 3-point shot was clearly an outlier compared to his career standards, which could make Brown a “regression-to-average” candidate in 2021-22. It also remains to be seen if Brown’s absence in the final five weeks of the season could drag him off the radar of some teams.
But even in the best-case scenario for the Rockets, Brown will likely have equally low offers from other franchises. The question is, what are its priorities? If he wants to fight for an NBA title, he would likely accept a comparable offer elsewhere. On the flip side, Brown is young enough to be able to hold this chase for a few years, and he might see Houston as an opportunity for more playing time, which could help him grow his market for years to come. He seemed to have a strong relationship with Silas, and perhaps that level of comfort with the coach and the system could lead to a second round table in Houston.
Based on his defense and shooting numbers, Stone almost assuredly had the opportunity to move Brown on this season’s March 25 trade deadline (weeks before the assault), but Houston opted not to. not do it. It could be a signal the Rockets are hoping to hold him back beyond this season.