Next week, Bonzi Wells will have to make it official.
He can commit to another season with the Rockets and the second year of a contract he had always intended to end after one season or he can add his name to the free agent market and play the field.
More and more, it appears that Wells will be back. And after so long in which it seemed that there had to be teams that could offer a better situation for Wells and his career, it actually might make some sense to give it at least one more run with the Rockets.
The thinking here had long been that he should become a free agent and see what that brings him. His best position is shooting guard and on the Rockets, that's Tracy McGrady's position. There might be 12 minutes a game that McGrady is not manning the two, but any other time that Wells plays, he has to play elsewhere.
As much as shooting guard and small forward are virtually interchangeable in many offenses, the combinations do determine match ups, and when Wells is at the three, he often cannot outmuscle and punish the forwards the way he does the guards. And a large chunk of small forward minutes with the Rockets are taken by Shane Battier.
On top of all that, he hired Bill Duffy to be his agent too late last summer to give Duffy a chance to do his thing. Duffy has always prided himself on finding clients not just a contract, but a good fit. It didn't seem to make sense to hire Duffy and then not let him do his job.
But now, a disappointing season later, Duffy might be doing a different job for Wells. He cannot enter into negotiations, but he can be a weatherman for his client. By now, he must have a pretty good idea which way the wind blows and if Wells is not opting out, he must know there are not big-money offers waiting. The word around the league is that teams are skeptical. That's not to say there would not be interest, but the offers will likely be tempered.
It only takes one, but after last season, Wells could understandably want to go where he best believes his talents will be appreciated.
He knows Rick Adelman believes in him, and that is a valuable offer in itself.
There might not seem to be the gobs of playing time, but the plan last season was to use Shane Battier at power forward as well as small forward. I once offered to bet Jeff Van Gundy that Battier would play more four than three. Happily, he did not take the bet.
It turned out that Van Gundy found that playing Battier at the four took him away from the impact he had defensively chasing around all those high-scoring small forwards and shooting guards.
But if Wells is ready to be a force again, look for the Rockets to return to that plan. That doesn't mean Battier will be a full-time four, but it could be a very strong option to finish games. Sure some power forwards will be a load for Battier, but as Bruce Bowen just demonstrated on the much more powerful LeBron James, the defensive work done before an opponent gets the ball can go a long way toward disrupting him. And they still like the idea of taking big men out to the 3-point line and away from Yao Ming.
With the trade of Juwan Howard inspiring all kinds of questions about the Rockets power forwards, they will not feel badly going into the season with Chuck Hayes (who is likely to sign with the Rockets), Battier, Steve Novak and Justin Reed. And if they need more, it is more likely to be a short-term, traditional power forward than a big-name addition to come in and own the position.
Still, the dealing also is not likely done. Rafer Alston is a moderately-priced point guard that distributes the ball. Luther Head was fourth in 3-point shooting in the NBA. There is interest in John Lucas, loads of interest in Vassilis Spanoulis. At least one other deal is likely.
But the first move will likely not be a trade, the draft or free agency.
Instead, it will likely be an announcement that after leaving the team in April, Wells would like to be back in May and next season. If last season, Wells never entirely stopped looking back at the Kings and the offer he turned down, now he can look forward, to the next season and the next stage of his career.
This time, it might work out. For now, it could answer more questions than just Bonzi's.