Seeking relatively low-risk, high-reward gambles to infuse star power — or at least, solid contributor power — to his roster, Rockets general manager Daryl Morey wagered on a sizable chunk of the 2009 draft lottery.
The extent of his gamble, however, could end Wednesday, with the Rockets unlikely to pick up the fourth-year option on their four lottery picks in their third seasons.
Hasheem Thabeet, Jonny Flynn, Jordan Hill and Terrence Williams were among the top 11 picks of that draft and were acquired by the Rockets in the seasons that followed. Only Hill is in the Rockets’ rotation.
With Wednesday the deadline for the Rockets to pick up the contract options for the 2012-13 season, they will allow Williams, Thabeet and Flynn to become free agents next summe
r and are still weighing whether to keep Hill under contract for another season.
In the previous 12 seasons of the existing system for rookie contracts, the Rockets have picked up the fourth-season option on every first-round pick on their roster.
The Rockets also face a Wednesday deadline to agree to a contract extension for fourth-year guard Courtney Lee, but the sides are far apart. The Rockets are more likely to allow Lee to become a restricted free agent next summer.
Hill is by far the most likely to remain under contract for next season. He began the season as the Rockets’ starting center and has remained in the rotation despite some wildly inconsistent production. The eighth player selected in the 2009 draft, Hill was acquired from the Knicks in the Tracy McGrady deal. His contract would be worth $3.63 million next season.
“To this point, we haven’t heard whether they will pick up the option,” said Hill’s agent, Kevin Bradbury. “They wait until the very last day all the time on these things. I don’t see why a guy performing like Jordan has wouldn’t have his option picked up.”