The Houston Rockets are in their second offseason of a rebuild and are once again positioned to fight for the worst record in the league. While a third straight season securing the worst record in the league would be unprecedented, it remains the best route to landing another high-level young talent to make the draft lottery a distant memory in the years to come.
The Rockets appear undaunted by the prospect of setting the wrong type of history to set the right type of history. Although the franchise hasn’t come out and said it, the Rockets are engaged in a Sixers-style “process.” While some may argue “the process” failed, the Sixers have been contenders for the past half-decade and remain firmly in the hunt.
The Rockets’ 2022 offseason has been a continuation of their desire to trade current value for future value. Through buyouts, trades, the draft, and free agency, Houston has positioned themselves well for the future, and with that lens, we will grade their offseason.
Waived John Wall
The John Wall buyout felt like an inevitability, even if it took nearly a year to transpire. When the Rockets decided to sit Wall for the 2021-22 season, there was some hope that they would be able to flip him in a trade, but that was always overly optimistic. Wall had hardly played due to injuries, and his play had declined to the point that his more than $40 million salary pushed his trade value into the red.
While trading Wall for a pick would have felt like a victory, it would have likely required the Rockets to take on bad money, which would have likely extended past Wall’s deal. The front office tried to play the waiting game and pounce on a desperate situation, but nothing materialized.
The buyout cost the Rockets $41 million ($6 million less than his salary) in dead money this year. Overall, it was the right decision to preserve future flexibility to win a meaningless trade. No team wants to be in a position to buyout a player, but all things considered, the Rockets did well to take short-term pain for future gain.