18 people who turned their back on the Houston Rockets franchise

NBA All-Star Game 2016
NBA All-Star Game 2016 / Elsa/GettyImages
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6. Jimmy Butler

In 2019, the Houston Rockets identified a need to bolster their roster and add to their Hall of Fame backcourt of James Harden and Chris Paul after getting sent home from the playoffs by the Golden State Warriors in consecutive years. Jimmy Butler, the greater Houston native, was an unrestricted free agent and was coming off a heartbreaking series defeat to Kawhi Leonard and the Toronto Raptors, in which Butler led the Philadelphia 76ers in both points and assists (22 points and 5.6 assists).

The Rockets set their sights on reeling him in and had James Harden try his hand at recruiting him. Butler made several posts on Instagram showing himself in Houston, which led many to believe that the Rockets were about to get their guy.

The Rockets began lining up deals to ship away Clint Capela and Eric Gordon, as they needed the cap space to give Butler the max. 

They, too, thought they had Butler in their mitts.

Until he spurned them at the ninth hour and instead signed with the Miami Heat. According to ESPN's Tim MacMahon, the Rockets were caught off guard, as they were led to believe Butler would be choosing them.

"Look, the Houston Rockets wanted to pay Jimmy Butler the four-year max and he ghosted them,” MacMahon said. “They thought they had them and he left them hanging....They were ready to pay Jimmy Butler. They really liked their chances and then suddenly, Jimmy had other thoughts."