The Houston Rockets rebuild is in full effect but it’s difficult, at the moment, to know when the fruits of their teardown will be realized. The picks coming back from the James Harden trade won’t have much value until years from now and the Rockets still owe the Oklahoma City Thunder first-round picks from the Russell Westbrook trade.
The franchise, outside of John Wall and Eric Gordon, has few significant future salary commitments and they’ll have a steady stream of first-round picks coming in. Aside from Christian Wood, the Rockets don’t have any valuable trade assets and he’s a player who should factor into their future plans.
While the trade returns for P.J. Tucker and Victor Oladipo were disappointing, the Rockets were always going to be in a difficult position this season the moment James Harden demanded a trade. The roster and offense were built around the idea that Harden would be at the center of everything and outside of the best players in the league, there wasn’t much any single player could do to offset his departure.
The most pressing question for the Rockets, and their fanbase, is how long will the rebuild take before the Rockets are a competitive team again? The timeline of the Rockets’ rebuild hinges on where they land in this upcoming draft, which itself hinges on the randomness of the NBA draft lottery.
From the Russell Westbrook trade, the Rockets owe the Oklahoma City Thunder a first-round pick swap if their pick falls outside of the top-four picks. Due to the NBA draft lottery odds, the best chances the Rockets can have to keep their pick is 52-percent, which they currently have.
If their pick lands in the top-four they will keep it and could become competitive again in three or four seasons, but if it falls out of that range, they could be a bottom feeder for the next half-decade. The length of the Rockets’ rebuild will come down to the 52-percent chance that they land a pick in the top-four, here are the two ways it can play out.
Next: The fast rebuild