2 Rockets that earned untouchable status, 4 that should be forgotten expeditiously

Denver Nuggets v Houston Rockets
Denver Nuggets v Houston Rockets / Alex Bierens de Haan/GettyImages
7 of 7

4 players that should be forgotten expeditiously

Jae'Sean Tate

Jae'Sean Tate's NBA career started off with a skirmish with James Harden during practice. Harden had already etched himself into superstardom and Tate had just been inked to a two-year deal worth $2.9 million.

Tate's path to the NBA was reminiscent of former Rockets defensive ace P.J. Tucker, after playing the 2018-19 season with the Antwerp Giants of the Belgium League and spending the 2019-20 season with the Sydney Kings of the NBL's Australian League. Tate would be named one of the top players in both leagues, making the All-Star team in Belgium and the All-NBL First Team in Australia.

Tate became a fan favorite as a rookie in Houston, showing the ability to do a little bit of everything, with the exception of shooting threes (which has led to spacing issues for the Rockets). Tate's 11 points, 5.3 rebounds, and 2.5 assists was good enough to be named to the NBA's All-Rookie First Team, becoming only the second undrafted player to make that claim.

Tate etched himself in the Rockets' record books during his second season, becoming the first Rockets player since Hakeem Olajuwon to post a statline of 30 points, 10 rebounds, 7 assists, 5 blocks, and 2 steals. Tate can play, which is why the Rockets gave him a three-year contract extension.

But even that extension is only worth $20.6 million ($6.9 million annually), which could make for a great bargaining chip for a contending team. This is especially the case considering the structure of Tate's deal, as his last fully guaranteed year is in 2023-24 at just $6.5 million.

Following that season, he'll be on a team option during his final year of the deal. With Tate turning 28 at the start of the 2023-24 season, it's clear that he's better suited on a contender and not on a rebuilding team.

His hustle and defense would be great contributions to a top-tier team's second unit and one can assume that it wouldn't take much to pry him from Houston. And especially after a disappointing 2022-23 season, in which he averaged just 9.1 points and 3.8 rebounds, while shooting 28.3 percent from three and missing 51 games due to injury.

Getting rid of Tate would free up the Rockets' logjam at forward, which is more appealing than playing him for one more season and letting him walk and/or waiting too late to deal him.