Charles Barkley on the Houston Rockets: ‘They’re back to the bottom.’

Charles Barkley (Photo by Rich Fury/Getty Images)
Charles Barkley (Photo by Rich Fury/Getty Images) /

The Houston Rockets exited the postseason earlier than expected, and some in the media, like Charles Barkley, aren’t optimistic about their future.

There’s no way around it — the end of the season was a bitter one for the Houston Rockets. Their micro-ball lineup barely survived against the Oklahoma City Thunder before being thoroughly dismissed in five games by the Los Angeles Lakers. The organization will be facing numerous questions from top to bottom, which could lead to a rough patch for the team next season.

With two superstars and a cast of solid role players mostly locked down for the foreseeable future, it’s not as if the Rockets’ window is closed, but it’s definitely on its way to shutting without some significant changes this offseason.

In the latest episode of Winging It with Vince Carter, the subject of the Rockets’ demise and future came up between Vince Carter and his guest, Charles Barkley. Never one to mince words with his strong opinions, Barkley seemed less than enthused about next season’s squad.

“They were a championship contender. Now they lost their coach, so they’re back to the bottom,” said Barkley. “I don’t even know how they’re going to handle that situation because [Mike] D’Antoni is the only person who runs that system. What are you going to do going forward?”

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Given that the roster was constructed to maximize D’Antoni’s offensive strengths with small ball while also providing James Harden with some star power, it’s hard to blame Barkley for wondering what’s next.

Of course, much of that uncertainty will be solved when the Rockets take the first step in addressing their immediate future by hiring a head coach that fits their system. The process is likely going to take a few weeks to play out, as several qualified candidates will need to be vetted to find the perfect fit.

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Whatever happens with the coaching search, it doesn’t seem that the Rockets can afford to change up their playing style to a high degree. Their lack of draft assets and maneuverability to make drastic roster changes hampers anything drastic such as that.

“Daryl Morey went all-in on small ball, so now they’re pretty much stuck with this small ball,” said Barkley. Whether good or bad, small ball is likely here to stay when it comes to Rockets basketball. The real question is, will it ever work?

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