Houston Rockets: 3 reasons letting Kelly Olynyk go was smart

N.B. Lindberg
Los Angeles Clippers v Houston Rockets
Los Angeles Clippers v Houston Rockets / Carmen Mandato/Getty Images
2 of 4
Trae Young, Kelly Olynyk, Houston Rockets
Houston Rockets v Atlanta Hawks / Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

Houston Rockets: Reason #3 letting Kelly Olynyk go was smart: He is limited 

Kelly Olynyk spent the 2020-21 season as a scrub in Miami and an All-Star in Houston. However, the real Kelly Olynyk is neither. He is average. He just gets there by being excellent at one thing. 

For Olynyk to be an average NBA player, he has to be an excellent floor-spacer. He is an all-around poor defender and while his total offensive game is a plus, running your offense through him is a great way to get blown out. Olynyk’s value lives and dies on his 3-point stroke. 

Almost without fail, in the seasons where Olynyk has had a positive offensive box plus/minus, he has also posted an above-average 3-point shooting percentage. The lone exception was his 2019-20 season, where he was uncharacteristically poor on 2-pointers. 

It’s reasonable to view Kelly Olynyk as a limited version of Christian Wood. They’re both stretch fives and above-average 3-point shooters but Wood brings far more defense and rim running ability to the table. It can't be forgotten that Wood signed for three-years, $41 million just last offseason.

If the Rockets had matched the Pistons' offer they’d essentially be paying Olynyk the same amount. Why pay the sticker price for a used car with 100,000 miles on it, when you have the new model sitting in your driveway? 

Kelly Olynyk’s utility resides in a very specific role that the Rockets already have filled. Smart teams build rosters with variety and flexibility. Olynyk offers frontcourt variety and flexibility for a lot of teams, just not the Rockets.