16 Players the Houston Rockets gave up on way too soon

Houston Rockets, Goran Dragic, Kyle Lowry
Houston Rockets, Goran Dragic, Kyle Lowry / Jennifer Stewart-USA TODAY Sports
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The Houston Rockets are still trying to find their identity after the James Harden era. For eight years, things revolved around The Beard, and the franchise did everything they could to bring a third title back to Houston. The Rockets got close, but could never get over the hump. His trade request pushed them into a rebuild that Houston is hoping to come out of with a new coach and some splashy free agent acquisitions.

The Rockets joined the NBA in 1967, and the front office has made plenty of mistakes during their 57 years as a franchise. There has been plenty of winning, including back-to-back championships in 1994 and 1995, but that has not stopped them from giving up on talent at the wrong time.

The Rockets have often forgotten to practice patience with their talent. It has forced them to give up on players too quickly and has certainly caused some headaches in Space City.

Players Houston Rockets gave up on way too soon:

16. Clint Capela

The Rockets drafted Capela with the 25th overall pick in 2014, but the 6’10 big man played just 90 minutes as a rookie. Houston had Dwight Howard, but Capela worked his way into the backup role in year two before taking over as the starter in year three after the legend's departure.

Capela spent the next four years as the Rockets starter where he blossomed into an elite rebounder, rim protector, and finisher. The 6’10 big man had outstanding chemistry with James Harden, and he helped them become an annual contender. Houston made six playoff appearances in six years with Capela, including two trips to the conference finals.

Clint Capela was slowed by injuries in his final season in Houston before being traded to the Hawks in a four-team deal in 2020. He did not suit up for Atlanta in that season, but Capela did lead the league in rebounding in 2021. His pick-and-roll chemistry is now elite with Trae Young, and the Rockets entered a total rebuild just months after trading the 6’10 big man.

Would the Houston Rockets have made a deeper run in the bubble with Capela? Does he help keep James Harden in H-Town? Those will always be what-ifs for the franchise.