When Should the Rockets Try to Win?
The earliest the Rockets should look to aggressively upgrade their roster is after the 2022-23 season. Next season they should still see them near the bottom of the league. The Western Conference will likely be much tougher as the Nuggets, Clippers, Trail Blazers, and Pelicans will all get major boosts from injured stars returning. Not to mention, the Lakers should expect better health, the Spurs have an interesting young core, and the Kings could win at least 35 games. The Rockets may also move Christian Wood, Eric Gordon, and, if an acceptable offer is made, Jae’Sean Tate.
If the Rockets land an immediate difference-maker in the draft this season, Jalen Green makes a jump, and Alperen Sengun shows he can play 32 minutes a night they still shouldn’t look to be a playoff team. The 2023 draft looks historic at the top, from 2024 to 2026 the Rockets draft is in the hands of the Thunder, and in the offseason, the team will be flush with cap space.
Come the summer of 2023, the franchise will have a much better idea of where its future is headed and the flexibility to accommodate it. They’ll have the ability to sign free agents and use the Brooklyn picks plus any assets they get for discarded veterans to fill out the roster around a young core.
Does that mean they should be a playoff team in 2024? Not at all. It just means the shameless asset and talent hoarding phase of the rebuild will have run its course. Then the fun part of the rebuild can begin. Rebuilds are painful, but running from the pain never leads to true happiness.