NBA Free Agency 2012: Why Samuel Dalembert Must Be Re-Signed by Houston Rockets

Tom FirmeAnalyst IIMay 23, 2012

BOSTON, MA - MARCH 06:  Paul Pierce #34 of the Boston Celtics passes under pressure from Samuel Dalembert #21 of the Houston Rockets on March 6, 2012 at TD Garden in Boston, Massachusetts. The Boston Celtics defeated the Houston Rockets 97-92 in overtime. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
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Samuel Dalembert is a solid defensive player who, when effective, made the Houston Rockets passable on defense. Dalembert blocks shots like few others and does a fine job rebounding. He did have slip-ups in his play and off-court decision-making. Still, the Rockets need to retain Dalembert to help develop their defense.

Dalembert had stellar numbers in his career overall in 2011-12. He was 10th in blocks per game (1.7) and had his third best blocks-per-36-minutes rate (2.8) in a full season. Also, the 10-year veteran blocked shot percentage (5.7 percent) was sixth in the league.

He had the seventh-best total rebounding percentage (18.3 percent) in the NBA while posting the third-best offensive rebounding rate (12.5 percent) in his career. The Hatian center pulled down seven rebounds per game and 11.4 per 36 minutes.

He posted a laudable defensive rating of 100 points per 100 possessions, which tied for the second-best mark in his career.

Additionally, Dalembert provided needed leadership on defense. Dalembert told the Houston Chronicle that he does what he feels is his duty to communicate with teammates on defense. He said:

I keep communicating. I keep telling them, “Send him left. Send him left.” They are loving it. And as you are playing defense, you keep communicating. “Send him left. No. No. No. You’re by yourself.” Things like that. When you are communicating, you make it easy for me. Then they get comfortable to defend their man.

Dalembert patched up the Rockets defense not only with his ability to block shots and rebound, but also with vocal leadership.

Granted, Dalembert has some blemishes to his status as a leader. He’s been benched for not playing hard. On February 6, he was benched for his lack of effort, as Kevin McHale told the Houston Chronicle.

Also, he’s had trouble watching time. On February 19, he was benched for missing a pre-game walk-through. Dalembert told the Houston Chronicle that he didn’t know what time the walk-through was.

On January 25, Dalembert missed the first 2:33 of the second half of the game against the Milwaukee Bucks because he mistook the time and went to the bathroom.

Despite his slip-ups, Dalembert was worth the hassle for the Rockets. Along with Marcus Camby, Dalembert held up the Rockets defense. They racked up blocks and rebounds. Both prevented scores inside with their presence in the low post.

While many would surely like to see Camby return, as his rebounding and shot-blocking reputation precedes him, Dalembert is seven years younger than Camby and cheaper, too. He made $2.256 million less than Camby in 2011-12.

He’d likely be more cost-effective than Camby for next season as well. Dalembert likely has lower expectations than Camby due to the Haitian’s periods of ineffectiveness, lowering his cost.

Dalembert would do well in a second year in Kevin McHale’s system in Houston. With more time under McHale, Dalembert will make better decisions than he did at some points this season. That will allow him to play the minutes he should and excel defending the inside. He’ll be able to help the Rockets develop defensively.