The Houston Rockets have officially, and sadly, begun their offseason. Let’s take a look at an early plan for the organization.
This past season for the Houston Rockets will absolutely be one to remember. Leslie Alexander sold the team to Houston icon Tilman Fertitta. Chris Paul joined the team. The Rockets captured the best record in the NBA in the regular season. Definitely, a season to remember.
The team had great success under Mike D’Antoni. Paul meshed well with James Harden. Daryl Morey surrounded his stars with the perfect role players. Guys that can shoot threes and play defense. It was a method and formula that worked.
That being said, it wasn’t enough to overcome the Warriors. Sure, CP3 was lost to a grade two hamstring strain. The Warriors were also down Andre Iguodala. We can play the “What If?” game all day long. It won’t do any good. So, let’s move forward and look out what the team needs to do to get ready for the 2018-19 season.
Two players to start with
So far, it appears that the Houston Rockets have two priorities. Those being resigning Paul and retaining Clint Capela.
However, it appears that Paul is the higher priority for the team. Fertitta holds the keys to the bank so, he’ll ultimately get what he wants. Fertitta doesn’t figure to blow things up with massive changes just because the team fell one game short of the finals. In another quote to Fritz, he said he doesn’t expect a lot of change, that you “don’t mess with success.”
So, Fertitta seems keen on retaining a similar roster to the 2017-18 one. Getting Paul to return and bringing back Capela would be a great start to this. Paul is one of the best guards in NBA history. Capela is a top five center. They were both highly essential to the success the Rockets had this year.
If you’re looking for a place for the Houston Rockets’ offseason to start, negotiations with these two is a great start.
The Lebron James of it all
This has been a major storyline all season. If Lebron James leaves Cleveland where will he go? Houston? Los Angeles? Philadelphia?!
Currently, I think the bigger question is will he even leave Cleveland? It’s got to be hard to reason through leaving a team that is in the Finals. Sure, Lebron might’ve almost died on the court several times this postseason but, they’re in the Finals!
Regardless, Lebron will opt out of his contract this season no matter his plans. Someone in his camp is sure to listen to pitches from other teams. The Houston Rockets are sure to be one of the 30 teams making their pitch.
I’ve said it before if you’re the Rockets and you have a chance to get the greatest player of all time you do it. That’s exactly why you’ll see the team trying to get into Lebron’s ear. However, I’m not sure it is the wisest move out there for the team.
I don’t see a way you retain Paul, Capela, and add Lebron. Unless CP3 takes a major pay cut, it won’t happen. So then, the question becomes (if you forfeit everything for Lebron), do you sacrifice Paul or Capela?
My opinion on the matter is already in print. So, I won’t rehash them in detail. But, I think Lebron ultimately costs this team too much and there are too many chess moves to be made to make it happen. If you try and fail to get Lebron, will it be too late to salvage the offseason? These are the questions D’Antoni, Morey, and Fertitta need to answer.
Other personnel moves
To me, one of the first moves of this offseason needs to be offloading Ryan Anderson. Unfortunately, he has over $40 million left on his contract. This simply boils down to how many picks/players are worth to a team for $40 million. The answer to that question will be a lot.
This likely means the Houston Rockets have to give up multiple first round picks as they don’t have hardly any young assets. The Rockets have all of their first-round picks beyond this year. So, it’s feasible they could pair a couple of those to dump Anderson. The cost will be really steep though.
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Other players that are free agents this year besides Paul and Capela are Trevor Ariza, Luc Mbah a Moute and Gerald Green amongst others. There are good cases to be made for keeping all three and good cases to be made for letting all three go.
Ariza has been a stalwart for the team defensively but, his offense has faltered recently. Mbah a Moute is also a phenomenal defender but, his offensive wheels fell off in the playoffs though mostly due to injury. Green has energy, passion, and hometown pride but, he is erratic and inconsistent.
Bradley may be too expensive but, another three and d at guard would be a boon to this lineup. Belinelli could provide some facilitation and threes but, not much else. Hezonja could be a unique project for D’Antoni to mold. Ellington is a great three-point shooter with some defense in him.
Regardless of what happens, it’ll be very interesting to see what the brain trust of D’Antoni, Morey, and Fertitta come up with. It’s disappointing the Houston Rockets didn’t make the finals but, the future in Houston looks bright.