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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1. Moses Malone

The Rockets acquired the future Hall of Famer in 1976 for two first-round draft picks, and he quickly blossomed into a superstar. Malone was an All-Star in all five of his full seasons in Houston as he won two MVP awards and led the league in rebounding three times. He helped them reach the conference finals in 1977 and the NBA Finals in 1981.

Malone was the reigning MVP and coming off a year where he averaged 31.1 points, 14.7 rebounds, and 1.5 blocks in 42.0 minutes per game when he entered restricted free agency in 1982. The 76ers came with a massive offer that the Rockets' new owner was unwilling to pay. They ultimately worked out a trade that brought Caldwell Jones and a 1983 first-round draft pick to Houston.

The Rocket missed the playoffs in the next two seasons as Malone won his third MVP honor and led the Sixers to the championship in 1983. He made seven straight All-Star appearances after leaving Houston and was a force into his mid-30s.

The Houston Rockets refused to pay arguably the best player in the NBA in 1982, and it cost them a few chances at contending.

Who will be the next Rocket that makes this list? Stay tuned to find out.