Houston Rockets stand to benefit from Nets' upcoming cap crunch

Will the Nets keep sending the Houston Rockets lottery picks?
Will the Nets keep sending the Houston Rockets lottery picks? / Al Bello/GettyImages

Every team in the NBA needs to navigate the cap. They need to spend their money wisely.

Teams also need to manage their draft capital. When a team feels that they're close to title contention, they may spend their draft assets. If they don't make a deep playoff run, they may come to regret that decision.

Look at the Brooklyn Nets. They thought they had a championship team. They sent the Houston Rockets a historic haul of draft capital as a result. It didn't work out.

Now, they've got to ask themselves some difficult questions in free agency.

Houston Rockets impacted by Nets' decision

After all, Nicolas Claxton is set to hit free agency this summer. He's young, impactful, and should fit next to anyone. Bringing him back will be a no-brainer.


It's debatable. According to Bleacher Report, Claxton is likely to command $20-25 million on the open market this summer.

Can the Nets afford the bill?

Houston Rockets' rivals have nothing to lose

They're going to have to.

Remember - the Nets sent a historical haul of draft capital to the Rockets. If the Rockets don't own their first-round pick through 2027, they own the rights to swap picks. The Nets will have no incentive to lose games for four more seasons.

This puts them in a difficult position. The Nets can't afford to downgrade. At the same time, retaining Claxton will limit their options when it comes to upgrading. Cameron Johnson is already on a lucrative deal. Ben Simmons is expiring money, but Cam Thomas will be due for a large extension after next season.

Meanwhile, they're already about to send a lottery pick to the Rockets this summer. The Nets may be caught between a rock and a hard place.

What should they do?

Houston Rockets rival could trade for a star

In theory, the Nets could flip Simmons' expiring deal and as much draft capital as necessary for a star.

In practice, that's going to make for a complicated cap sheet after Thomas' extension. Still, the Nets could include Thomas in a deal. That makes a certain amount of sense.

Counterargument - how much better does, say, Donovan Mitchell make the Nets if they're losing Thomas? He'd certainly improve the team. The Nets should win 45 games in 2024-25 if they add Mitchell this summer. Would they win 50?

That's debatable. The Nets are married to a medicore, expensive roster with no incentive to lose. Once they extend Claxton, that will hold even truer.

Rockets fans should pay attention to how they navigate this situation.