Rockets' main offseason dilemma may be best solved unconventionally

Houston's biggest dilemma this summer is one they may be best served approaching from an unusual angle.
Alperen Sengun, Jalen Green, Houston Rockets
Alperen Sengun, Jalen Green, Houston Rockets / Tim Warner/GettyImages

The Houston Rockets are currently in an excellent position to continue improving, and their progress has been a quicker process than many could have expected. After losing a transcendent scorer like James Harden during the 2020-21 season, it seemed Houston could be heading into a rebuild that could last for years before they found the foundational pieces for their next generation.

But while the Rockets are still seeking their first playoff appearance since the Harden era, cause for optimism has come about in short order. Houston has done exceedingly well in both drafting talent as well as landing significant free agents since their former franchise player opted to skip town.

The last several seasons have led to the likes of Jabari Smith Jr., Amen Thompson, Tari Eason, Cam Whitmore, Jalen Green and Alperen Sengun becoming the core six of the Rockets' youth movement. Add in strong veterans like Jeff Green, Fred VanVleet and Dillon Brooks, and it is no surprise this team went from bottom-dweller to borderline playoff contender practically overnight.

Now, as Houston looks to take another step up, they will have some decisions to make, some easier than others. With arguably their two best players in Alperen Sengun and Jalen Green eligible for extensions this summer, it would be a no-brainer for the front office to go ahead and lock them both up on new deals, right? Do not be so sure.

The Rockets should wait before extending both Sengun and Green

Offering an extension is the best option when you are 100% convinced there is no better choice for you and the rest of your roster than to get this player back at all costs. And although Green and Sengun are both great in their own ways, neither have put themselves into the echelon of being completely untouchable or off the table.

There would be nothing wrong with the Rockets letting one more season with both of these guys on the roster pass by so that management can do some further evaluation and see how each player continues progressing. Both will be restricted free agents when the summer of 2025 rolls around. If there is a chance one or both of Sengun and Green have a down season and their value plummets, Houston would be able to then construct an extension at a lower cost than they are able to now.

Financial flexibility is as or more crucial than it has ever been in the NBA with the amount of restrictions that come with the first and second aprons of the league's new labor deal. If the Rockets can plan a few steps ahead and end up saving a considerable amount of money, it could pay dividends for them down the road.

Obviously, fans in Houston want to see their team's top performers back no matter what. And the likelihood is that they still will be. However, working smarter rather than harder historically tends to pay off in these situations.