What the Rockets' hiring of Ime Udoka says about owner Tilman Fertitta

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If you've followed the Houston Rockets since the ownership change in 2017, you're likely aware of the reputation that's followed Rockets owner Tilman Fertitta. Many view Fertitta as an owner who hasn't been fully committed to winning, as evidenced by the Rockets appearing to dodge the luxury tax during the first three years of Fertitta's ownership, a time frame in which the Rockets were among the league's elite teams in the Western Conference. 

More specifically, the decision to not pay Trevor Ariza following the 2017-18 season has been cited as Exhibit A for those who have formulated the opinion of Fertitta as an owner who doesn't want to spend big (although one can fairly argue that if you're relying on Ariza to be the missing piece you're doomed from the start). This was also perpetuated by former Rockets guard Chris Paul, shortly after he was dealt away by the Rockets.

These days most of that talk has subsided, as the Rockets haven't been in a position to spend big, which is typically the case when a franchise goes through a rebuild.

What the Rockets' hiring of Ime Udoka says about owner Tilman Fertitta

As the Rockets transition to phase two of their rebuild, a state in which the team wants to be competitive, Fertitta will have the opportunity to prove the naysayers wrong. And with $60+ million in cap space this summer, they'll certainly be doling out big money deals (hence the James Harden rumors, who will certainly only be returning to the Space City if given a max deal, which would cost the Rockets roughly $200 million).

Fertitta has already gotten that kickstarted with the Rockets' coaching hire, as they went out and got one of the brightest young coaches in the league in Ime Udoka, who was being pursued by the Toronto Raptors, who were already slated to pay Nick Nurse $8 million this upcoming season. Many believed Fertitta wouldn't foot the bill for a legitimate coach like Udoka, and would instead settle for a more inexpensive option like Frank Vogel.

And although Fertitta will have much more to do to solidify himself as an owner that is all-in on winning, it shouldn't go unnoticed that the Rockets gave Udoka a four-year deal worth north of $28 million in its entirety, a deal that carries an annual price tag of $7 million, which Fertitta would have dodged if he wasn't seeking to change the state of the franchise.

So while Houston Rockets owner Tilman Fertitta has been viewed as an owner that's been unwilling to win at all costs, the recent hire of Ime Udoka should quell many of those concerns.