The Houston Rockets find themselves engulfed in a thirteen-game losing streak, leaving them with a 11-23 record. This isn’t as bad as it may sound, however, as the NBA will have a play-in tournament for teams that finish seventh through tenth in the conference standings, much like the league did last season.
The Rockets are currently six games out of the 10th spot, but face key decisions ahead of the March 25th trade deadline, in which they are expected to be active, as usual. On Sunday, Rockets long-time insider Jonathan Feigen joined NBC Houston’s Texas Sports Nation and explained the thinking of the front office, as they seek to devise the best plan for the roster.
Houston Rockets insider explains GM Rafael Stone’s plan at trade deadline
“They have to gauge who they are. They believe they’re a much better team than the 14th-place team and a long shot to make the playoffs, but that’s the reality.
So they can’t be super aggressive and say let’s make a short-term move that improves playoff chances, when they might not get in at all. But they also don’t feel like they need a fire sale to where they trade off veterans just for picks.
They’re also not in a position where they have to do whatever they can to restock their collection of picks, because they did that with the James Harden deal, to a lesser extent with the Robert Covington deal, where they got a first-round pick.
They don’t have to go all out to collect draft picks. So what they are going to look to do is deals that they would judge just on the deal, rather than the impact of one of those two goals.
Is it a good trade for them this year but also for the future.”
Feigen added that veteran 3-and-D forward P.J. Tucker likely doesn’t fit into the team’s long-term plans and mentioned that several teams have been contacting the Rockets about their veteran players. In addition, Feigen explained the team’s conundrum with Victor Oladipo, who the Houston Rockets acquired in the James Harden trade, but who reportedly doesn’t want to be in Houston.
“The Victor Oladipo situation, he will absolutely be of interest to teams but the Rockets have to gauge what they bring back. If they’re bringing back $21 million worth of contracts, they better want those guys.”
It’s been reported that the New York Knicks, Miami Heat, and Denver Nuggets are all interested in Oladipo, and ESPN’s Brian Windhorst suggested that the Dallas Mavericks should also make a move for the former All-Star and All-NBA guard.
Regardless, Rockets general manager Rafael Stone will certainly have his hands full, as he must field the best offer, both now and long-term. In addition, the franchise’s prioritization of players over draft picks could define the future, as the Rockets don’t want to be stuck with long-term salaries of players that they don’t have interest in, like Feigen alluded to.
The good thing is that we’ll find out which direction they take soon, as the NBA’s trade deadline is less than three weeks away.