Here’s where the Rockets fit in the west after big free agent moves

By Tevin Williams
James Harden #13 of the Houston Rockets greets LeBron James #23 of the Los Angeles Lakers (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
James Harden #13 of the Houston Rockets greets LeBron James #23 of the Los Angeles Lakers (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images) /
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Phoenix Suns

The Suns took a step in the right direction this summer, adding point guard Ricky Rubio, who can take some of the offensive pressure off of Devin Booker. They also acquired Dario Saric, a young power forward with playoff experience who can space the floor for Phoenix’s guards. They should win more than the 19 games they won last season, but they’ll still finish towards the bottom of a stacked Western Conference.

Minnesota Timberwolves

Minnesota’s core, Andrew Wiggins and Karl-Anthony Towns, are still young, but they haven’t been able to win much outside of the 2017-18 season, when Jimmy Butler helped lead Minnesota to the postseason. Minnesota didn’t really add anyone noteworthy this summer and after losing Derrick Rose, who had a resurgent season last year, I wouldn’t expect the Wolves to make much noise going forward.

Memphis Grizzlies

When the Grizzlies moved on from core players like Zach Randolph and Tony Allen a few years ago, it signaled the end of the Grit N’ Grind era. In the last five months, the Grizzlies have traded both Marc Gasol and Mike Conley, moving them into full-on rebuild mode. Memphis recently acquired both Dwight Howard and Andre Iguodala in trades, but the team is expected to either waive or trade both of those players. This will leave Memphis with a barebones roster and the Grizzlies will probably finish with the worst record in the Western Conference.

Sacramento Kings

The Kings shocked a lot of people when they competed for the final playoff spot last year and finished ninth. Both De’Aaron Fox and Marvin Bagley III are going to be very good players in this league for a long time. They lost Willie Cauley-Stein, but added a veteran forward in Trevor Ariza. The Kings didn’t take a step back from last season, but the rest of the west took a step forward, so there’s no way they finish in the top nine next season.

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