2. Stone values flexibility for the Houston Rockets (at the moment)
Yes I have discussed how Stone is accumulating assets, but it’s the details of moves that Stone has made that makes this point more clear. Examples include taking a first-round pick in the Harden trade over Jarrett Allen (who is going to be an expensive free agent this off-season).
Not to mention trading for Victor Oladipo, who was on an expiring deal, rather than keeping Caris LeVert, who has several years left on his deal. Especially considering the fact that the Rockets expected Oladipo to reject the contract extension offer.
This point continues to show in the idea that Oladipo was traded for Kelly Olynyk (an expiring deal who has been a pleasant surprise for the Houston Rockets) along with Avery Bradley (a team option). The cap space room will end up being a lot higher than previous years for the Houston Rockets, and if John Wall ends up somewhere else this offseason, the Rockets could end up having a lot of draft picks and cap space to work with, along with the young core.
This flexibility mindset is something that I expect Rafael Stone to continue to have unless he sees the opportunity to strike. If Stone ever has the chance to land multiple stars in any off-season to play with his young core down the road (Clippers 2019 off-season type beat), I have no doubt that he would go Morey-esque and use whatever he has at his disposal to get it done.
If the Rockets end up with one of the top picks in the draft and see franchise-player potential in a player they pick, then I wouldn’t be surprised if Stone starts using some of the accumulated assets to try and build a solidified team around said franchise player (Cade Cunningham, Jalen Suggs, etc.)
Flexibility is always a great thing for the Houston Rockets to have, as Stone can have an easier time improving the team in the future when it comes down to it. But ultimately, at some point this team will have to go all in.
The Houston Rockets can’t stay flexible forever if they plan on winning, and how the accumulated assets are used is what ultimately matters. If the wrong decisions are made, it could set the franchise back for years.
Next: No. 1