3. The Houston Rockets’ financial decisions under Fertitta in 2020-21
Although it went undiscussed, the Houston Rockets were actually not making frugal moves over the last calendar year, starting with the offseason. With the 2020 NBA Draft nearly completed, the Rockets fanbase was surprised when it was announced that the Rockets acquired the 52nd pick in the draft to select KJ Martin, the son of Kenyon Martin.
This is because the Rockets didn’t have any picks at that point in time, so a scramble ensued to figure out exactly how the Rockets got the draft pick to get Martin. As it turns out, the Rockets paid $1 million in cash, along with $4.6 million to acquire the Detroit Pistons’ second-round pick, which is what they used to select Martin.
If you’re keeping score, that’s $5.6 million in total to acquire Martin, who had tremendous growth as a rookie and has made himself a core building block for the Rockets’ rebuild. But the Rockets’ spending didn’t just stop there, as the front office opted to fully guarantee the $2.3 million salary of DeMarcus Cousins prior to releasing him, which is quite the opposite of what one would expect from an ownership group that is reportedly making “cost-cutting moves”.
Regarding the trade deadline deals, the Rockets took on D.J. Augustin in the P.J. Tucker trade with the Milwaukee Bucks, with Augustin carrying a price tag of $7 million in 2021-22. Augustin is a better example of Fertitta’s spending, as the point guard is under contract for two more seasons, although his 2022-23 season is non-guaranteed.
But again, this isn’t what one would expect from someone who has a reputation of being cheap. Although ESPN’s Bontemps stated that Fertitta and the Rockets were “targeting players that wouldn’t cost them any money next year”, that’s a flawed premise, as the aforementioned Augustin has future years remaining on his deal and Kelly Olynyk becomes an unrestricted free agent this offseason, which the Rockets know and will certainly make their top priority.
With all of that being said, it’s only fair to give Fertitta credit for his financial decisions in 2020-21, especially considering how much we’ve opted to criticize his “cost-cutting decisions” in past years.
But there’s also another reason why Fertitta deserves credit.
Next: No. 2