Why were the Rockets passed over for the NBA’s opening games?

Houston Rockets James Harden P.J. Tucker Eric Gordon (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
Houston Rockets James Harden P.J. Tucker Eric Gordon (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images) /

In an unsurprising twist, the NBA disrespected the high-rated Houston Rockets by leaving them off the primetime schedule for the beginning of the 2020-21 season.

The James Harden and the Houston Rockets generated a multi-million dollar tidal wave worth of views and ratings during their 2019-20 NBA campaign. Despite their season ending in the second round of the 2020 NBA playoffs to the eventual NBA champion Los Angeles Lakers, Houston gave their worldwide fans a season’s worth of entertainment.

Now, the NBA has released their 2020-21 tentative schedule for the first three days of the season and surprisingly the marquee and box-office Houston Rockets have been left off the schedule for the first three days of the new NBA season.

The season is set to start December 22nd, with the Golden State Warriors battling the Brooklyn Nets and the LA Clippers taking on the defending champion Los Angeles Lakers.

On December 23rd, the Boston Celtics will take on the Milwaukee Bucks, followed by the Dallas Mavericks pitted against the Phoenix Suns. Finally, ten teams are scheduled to play on Christmas Day and the Rockets aren’t one of those teams. The five games are listed below:

  • New Orleans Pelicans vs. Miami Heat
  • Golden State Warriors vs. Bucks
  • Brooklyn Nets vs. Boston Celtics
  • Mavericks vs. Lakers
  • Clippers vs. Denver Nuggets

Why were the Houston Rockets passed up for the opening primetime slots?

Houston not being scheduled for the first two nights isn’t a huge surprise because only four teams per night are set to play. But Christmas Day games are always a huge draw for the NBA and a huge draw for the championship contenders and/or marquee teams in the league, and for the Rockets to be purposely left out, says a lot about how they are viewed in the eyes of the NBA universe at this moment.

It’s no secret that the Rockets dominated all the headlines during the shortened off-season due to all the different transactions, rumors, and break-ups they’ve already had to endure. The Rockets had to hire a new head coach and general manager along with dealing with the departure of other players on their roster and trying to initially keep both of their superstar backcourt players when word leaked that both James Harden and Russell Westbrook wanted to be traded.

The Rockets ultimately dealt Westbrook for John Wall, capping off a tumultuous off-season for Rockets general manager Rafael Stone. But with all that conspired in less than a three-month period, they’ve put together a team that can hold their own in the loaded Western Conference, despite all the outside noise that might suggest otherwise.

Everybody wants to know is Harden committed? Will John Wall be a better fit than Westbrook? Can Eric Gordon get his mojo back? Can Christian Wood and DeMarcus Cousins be the answer in the post? Can Stephen Silas and Rafael Stone co-exist?

All of these questions could be answered in some capacity if the Rockets were scheduled to play during the first three days of the season, like the other marquee teams in the league.

The Phoenix Suns have struggled to get primetime games in the recent years, but suddenly the rise of Devin Booker and the addition of Chris Paul has helped them generate more eyes. The Clippers blew a 3-1 lead to the Denver Nuggets last season, but fans are anxious to see how they will respond amidst all of the turmoil and dysfunction they created last season.

So, just like fans are looking forward to seeing how those teams play out of the gate, the Houston Rockets should be granted the same respect because they still have two of the best players in the league on the team and the attitude within the organization has been completely shifted to a new era.

In addition, NBA fans around the world should be granted the opportunity to see the Rockets attempt to put themselves back into the NBA title talk right from the jump.

Next. Analyzing the Rockets' trade of Westbrook for Wall

The Rockets entire 2020-21 schedule hasn’t been released yet, but they’ll hit the court for some preseason action on December 11th against the upstart Chicago Bulls.