The Houston Rockets have outperformed the expectations of the masses through the first half of the season, as they find themselves 23-28 and battling for a spot in play-in tournament. The Rockets faced the challenge of morphing into a contender overnight when they were just jockeying for the top overall draft pick last summer.
Now that the first half of the season is in the books, the Rockets will have to answer some major questions in the latter half of the 2023-24 season. Let’s take a look at some of the key decisions they’ll have to make.
4. Which star should the Rockets pursue in the offseason?
The Rockets stood pat at the trade deadline, as they opted to wait until the offseason to make a bigger play. And it’s understandable if that was the goal, as the only star-level players that were available were Dejounte Murray and Zach LaVine, the latter of which will be out for the remainder of the season.
The Rockets will have the expiring salaries of Jeff Green, Jock Landale, Jae’Sean Tate, and Fred VanVleet, not to mention the Brooklyn Nets’ unused draft picks from the James Harden trade, which is quit a bit to dish out. In total, the Rockets could generate $65.9 million in salary ballast, if necessary, with $42.8 million of that coming by way of Fred VanVleet.
Granted, everyone is very high on VanVleet, so this isn’t to say that he’ll be on the move, just that his 2024-25 year is the last fully guaranteed year of his deal.
The question is which star the Rockets should bring in. Their ability to land a star will be compromised by the Los Angeles Lakers’ pursuit of the same thing.
And it’s not quite expected that many stars will be available this summer, so the Rockets could be choosing from the same group of players as the Lakers, who have far more to offer than the Rockets- i.e. the chance to play with LeBron James and Anthony Davis, while also being in a major market.