Houston Rockets rebuild step 1: Tread water until John Wall’s contract expires
One of the most powerful tools franchisees use to accelerate their rebuilds is to weaponize open cap space. The Rockets, if they don’t extend Victor Oladipo, will have $87.2 million in salary commitments next season.
The only thing preventing the Rockets from having the most salary cap space in the league is the presence of John Wall and his $44.3 million contract. At this moment, over half of all of the Rockets’ salary commitments for 2021-22 is headed to John Wall.
The Rockets need to use their cap space to acquire players and assets as a dumping ground for accounting purposes. However, the franchise won’t be able to fully maximize its cap space until Wall’s gargantuan contract comes off the books in the summer of 2023.
Heading into the 2023-24 season the Rockets only have Eric Gordon and Kenyon Martin Jr. under contract and neither of their salaries’ are fully guaranteed. The Rockets shouldn’t head into that offseason with no one under contract but it just shows how much financial might they’ll be able to wield.
The Rockets need to tread water until then and look to find and develop young players. Once Wall is off the books, the Rockets will be serious players in free agency, and depending on where their rebuild is they can use their cap space as they see fit.
Next: Step 2