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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4. Cuttino Mobley

Mobley was a second-round draft pick in 1998 out of Rhode Island College. He immediately cracked the Rockets' rotation following the lockout and quickly became the steal of the draft. He finished with the seventh-highest win shares in the class, despite being selected 41st overall.

Mobley continued to improve, but the team slowed slipped into a rebuild. Their stars of the 1990s retired or moved on, and the 6’4 guard averaged nearly 20 points per game in back-to-back seasons in 2001 and 2002. Mobley helped the Rockets with Yao Ming get back to the playoffs in 2004, but he was traded that summer to Orlando as part of a seven-player deal that brought Tracy McGrady to Houston.

Mobley played just 23 games with the Magic before being dealt to Sacramento. He helped the Kings make the playoffs but decided to sign with the LA Clippers in free agency during the 2005 offseason.

The Cat helped the Clippers reach the second round of the playoffs in 2006 where they lost a heartbreaking seven-game series to Steve Nash and the Suns. It was Mobley’s final playoff experience. He remained a key role player before being forced to retire in 2008 because of a heart condition.

Cutino Mobley returned to professional basketball in 2017 as a member of the Big3, and he remains the captain of the Power.  The Houston Rockets gave up on Cutino Mobley too soon, but it was necessary to acquire T-Mac.