Rockets make risky yet necessary moves
After suffering a season-ending loss to the Golden State Warriors for the third time in four seasons, the Houston Rockets seemed set up for its most difficult and uncertain free agency in years.
But Rockets General Manager Daryl Morey has made moves to create a team that can get over the California-sized hump in the Western Conference.
To start, the Rockets found a way to keep its core as intact as possible.
Franchise cornerstone James Harden is signed until 2023, P.J. Tucker until 2021 and Nene Hilario and Eric Gordon until 2020. Houston native Gerald Green signed a veteran minimum contract.
Houston will also have Ryan Anderson return unless it trades him before the season begins. Anderson is a solid player, but his gaudy contract and poor production in the playoffs has made him almost a liability at this point.
Another hefty contract is that of Chris Paul. The point guard and the Rockets agreed to a 4-year max contract earlier this summer that will ensure him $44 million a year at 36 years old.
While the duo of Harden and Paul was deadly last season, it’s reasonable to believe that a decline is inevitable in Paul’s future due to his age. This contract could hinder the Rockets from making moves then, similar to Anderson’s contract now.
Though many players are coming back, Luc Mbah a Moute is one key player that will not be returning after joining the Los Angeles Clippers. Another piece that will be missing from the Rockets is veteran wing Trevor Ariza.
The two players were some of the Rockets’ best defenders, even though they did not have the blocks or rebounds to show it.
Losing these defensive stalwarts will definitely hurt Houston, but the team should be fine after signing center Clint Capela to a 5-year $90 million contract, as reported by ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski.
Capela is the anchor for the team’s defense as a prolific shot blocker, rebounder and elite roller for the pick-and-roll. There was some tension earlier this offseason as Capela rejected the team’s first offer, but Rockets fans will be happy to see that the Swiss big man will be in Houston for a long time.
Finally, the biggest headline for the Rockets this offseason is the journey of Carmelo Anthony.
After playing only one season for the Oklahoma City Thunder, Anthony was traded to the Atlanta Hawks in a three-team trade. After clearing waivers, Anthony will likely go to the Rockets for the veteran minimum per the New York Times Marc Stein.
This will affect Houston in one of two ways. The Rockets could find a hidden treasure and get high value from Anthony in what is likely his final chance to earn a sizable contract. On the other hand, Houston could be paying for a washed-up shell of a former superstar.
For the Rockets, the risks are worth taking if it hopes to defeat the star-studded Golden State Warriors and Los Angeles Lakers.