Rather than picking up the team option on Jae'Sean Tate for 2022, the Houston Rockets instead let their starting forward from 2021 become a restricted free agent.
No, it is not officially K.J. Martin season for the Rockets yet.
While it makes sense that some people could believe this after the Rockets declined to pick up the team option for Jae'Sean Tate for the 2022 season, the truth behind this move goes much deeper.
In all seriousness, this is likely just an act of good faith from a team that wants to reward a hard-working starter that figures to remain a part of the team.
With Tate on the market as a restricted free agent, the odds of him getting more money are quickly going up.
The Rockets will get the chance to match any offer, and it makes all the sense in the world that they will meet any offer that is within reason.
Even after drafting Tari Eason and already having K.J. Martin on the roster, it still never felt likely that the Rockets would move on from Tate being in their starting lineup just yet. There are obviously aspects of his game that need to improve, specifically shooting from three, but the experience, hard work, and defense should keep Tate on the court this season and likely well-paid.
This was a good move by a Rockets front office that clearly cares about keeping its players happy. With the market now dictating his price, Tate should feel respected by the team, and that is increasingly important as he becomes the veteran leader on the roster if Eric Gordon leaves.
This decision also works out well when considering the lack of need at many positions for the Rockets. It was already unlikely that they were going to get too busy in free agency with so many mouths to feed, and having a bit more money in hand from recent moves is best-spent on keeping guys in Houston rather than changing up too much by bringing new guys in.
One way or another, it looks like Jae'Sean Tate is about to have the best offseason of his career, and this is good for Houston.
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