Rockets History

Rockets’ History: What if the 2017-18 Houston Rockets were still together?

HOUSTON, TX - MAY 24: The Houston Rockets bench reacts against the Golden State Warriors late in the fourth quarter of Game Five of the Western Conference Finals of the 2018 NBA Playoffs at Toyota Center on May 24, 2018 in Houston, Texas. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images)
HOUSTON, TX - MAY 24: The Houston Rockets bench reacts against the Golden State Warriors late in the fourth quarter of Game Five of the Western Conference Finals of the 2018 NBA Playoffs at Toyota Center on May 24, 2018 in Houston, Texas. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images)
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James Harden #13 of the Brooklyn Nets (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
James Harden #13 of the Brooklyn Nets (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

What if the 2017-18 Houston Rockets were still together: Where are they now?

Three seasons is not a long time but the three best players from the 2017-18 Rockets have all been traded away. The first to go was Chris Paul in the summer of 2019. Clint Capela soon followed him out the door in early 2020, and, finally, James Harden forced his way out only a year later.

Paul resuscitated his career in Oklahoma City and now has the Phoenix Suns firmly in the playoffs, Capela has been fantastic for the Atlanta Hawks as their lone defensive bright spot, and James Harden is pulling the strings for the most potent offense in league history with the Brooklyn Nets.

As mentioned earlier, P.J. Tucker and Eric Gordon still remain in Houston, with Gordon having a fantastic rebound season after a disappointing 2019. Tucker has had a down season but his defense is still fantastic and if he regains his 3-point stroke he’ll instantly become one of the league’s better 3-and-D players.

The only player from the Rockets core six that is not currently playing is Trevor Ariza. Ariza, now 35-years-old, hasn’t played this season but will likely be courted by contenders for the stretch run.

What’s amazing is that each of these players is still productive and, even in Ariza’s case, could all be real difference makers in the playoffs. If the 2017-18 Rockets were still together they’d be a playoff team but would they still be a championship contender.

Next: How good the 2017-18 Rockets would be today

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