The Houston Rockets had a very uneventful free agency and have been in the news this offseason for many of the wrong reasons. The national media has also picked them apart and written narratives of why their window has closed. Here’s why the Rockets should feel good heading into next season.
The Houston Rockets have swung and missed on Jimmy Butler twice this season. First when they were negotiating a deal for him with the Minnesota Timberwolves, who were adamant about not shipping him to another Western conference team. But given his recent decision to opt out with the Sixers and go to Miami, the Rockets likely dodged a bullet. If he wanted to go to Miami regardless, he likely would have made the same decision even if the Rockets acquired him then.
This time around, they were always facing an uphill battle to get Butler, as they would have needed help from Butler and interest from Philadelphia. Butler likely wasn’t going to do that, as he was interested in playing in Miami the whole time.
Even without Butler, the Rockets will have a great team next season. Let’s take a look at why the team is in a great position to compete next season with how some of the top teams in the West are composed, now.
In the Western Conference, the Houston Rockets have recently only lost in the playoffs to the Golden State Warriors. The Warriors were defeated in the Finals by the Toronto Raptors due to a lack of depth and in part due to injury. The Warriors likely will be losing even more depth, as they likely will be losing Boogie Cousins and have already lost Jordan Bell, in addition to 2-time Finals MVP Kevin Durant.
Although they just added All-Star guard D’Angelo Russell, they have also lost former All-Star and 2015 NBA Finals MVP Andre Iguodala. On top of that, I’m not exactly sold on Russell being a fit on the court and apparently they aren’t either, as they acquired him with plans of later trading him. So they are replacing Kevin Durant with someone they aren’t even planning on keeping long-term?
On the floor, Russell would be in essence replacing Klay Thompson while Thompson is out with an injury, and Russell isn’t nearly the 3-point shooter Thompson is. Thompson doesn’t need many touches to get hot and excels off the ball, whereas Russell is a ball dominant scorer. This doesn’t necessarily align with the Warriors heavy ball movement and usage of backdoor screens. How will Russell fit in this system? Will he take touches away from Curry? Will he take the ball out of Draymond Green‘s hands, who they run their offense through and use as the primary facilitator?
Next: The Lakers