The San Antonio Spurs handed Tre Jones the reins of their offense when they traded Dejounte Murray to the Atlanta Hawks last summer. While he hasn't stuffed the stat sheet like his All-Star counterpart, the 23-year-old point guard has been the conductor keeping the offense from veering off the rails during the first season of a full-scale rebuild.
Jones has averaged a respectable 12.7 points, 3.5 boards, and 6.4 assists on 45.3% shooting in his first season as a starter, nearly doubling his per-game numbers in virtually every area. His spike in productivity is fantastic, but since he is a restricted free agent this summer, the team must make a difficult decision about his future in the 2-1-0.
The front office can sign Jones to a four-year extension worth as much as $58M before the season ends. Or they can tender the young floor general a $6.2M qualifying offer and negotiate a long-term deal this offseason. He will likely end up with the Spurs. But several franchises will be pining after his playmaking services, so can they lure him to a new market?
1. Houston Rockets
Houston is the only organization on this countdown that has been equally bad, if not worse, than the Spurs this season. Their offense lacks spacing and structure, and their defense has been historically poor and hilariously disjointed. The Rockets have some intriguing talent, but they could use an upgrade at practically every position on their roster.
Jalen Green and Jabari Smith Jr. are the bedrock of this rebuild, but there is too much dysfunction for either of these top-three picks to learn sound fundamentals on either end of the court. Youngsters like Alperen Sengun, Tari Eason, and K.J. Martin have shown complementary skills worth long-term investments, but others must get the boot.
Kevin Porter Jr. is the incumbent starting point guard in Houston. Though he signed a four-year extension before the season and increased his per-game numbers and scoring efficiency, it would benefit the Rockets to find a trade partner to unload him this summer. He is an awkward fit alongside Green, and a pass-first backcourt mate makes more sense.
The Rockets could have as much as $61M to spend in free agency, which gives them the luxury to pursue Tre Jones without worrying whether they can afford other players. Houston would likely love to sign a floor general who can direct traffic in the half-court and push the pace in transition, so don't be shocked if they fork over an expensive offer sheet.