3. Is Rafael Stone the GM of the future?
Rockets GM Rafael Stone took over the team at arguably the Rockets’ lowest point in decades. The Rockets were devoid of young talent and had aging superstars in James Harden and Russell Westbrook at the time.
In addition, the Rockets were bereft of a head coach, as Mike D’Antoni- the former Coach of the Year- saw his contract expire and was unable to agree to terms on a new deal.
Stone pioneered the team through the coaching hire and traded away the Rockets’ superstars for draft capital that was lacking at the time of his hire.
And he built the team organically through home-grown talent, as the Rockets’ core six players were all drafted by the team. Stone especially hit on later draft picks (i.e. Cam Whitmore, Tari Eason, Alperen Sengun) and has developed a fairly good track record as it pertains to drafting players (although he’d rather not have drafted Usman Garuba, Josh Christopher, and TyTy Washington).
That was phase one.
The Rockets are past that point and ready to contend. Stone’s biggest strength will not be much of a bonus anymore, as the Rockets won’t need to add more raw, developmental talent to the fray.
Stone has done his part in getting the team to this point. Does it make sense to have him continue to operate as the team’s shot-caller or should the team move on from him now?
Rockets coach Ime Udoka is already involved in roster construction, so maybe the move is to continue to have Stone carry the GM title? Either way, it’s something that Houston’s brass will need to figure out.