How Kevin Durant's Decision Just Impacted The Rockets Moving Forward

By Salman Ali on July 4, 2016

The decision has been made and all hell has just been unleashed.

Kevin Durant's a Warrior and the league will likely belong to the Golden State Warriors for the next 4-5 years barring any major development.

So how does this impact the Houston Rockets? In any way?

The Pressure's Off To Contend....For Now

The Rockets set out this free agency to rebuild this team completely around James Harden from the ground up and they came out of it with Ryan Anderson (4 years/$80 million) and Eric Gordon (4 years/$53 million). The Rockets clearly aren't built to win any time soon and now nobody it doesn't matter, at least for the present moment.

Houston will eventually have to show some progress on the contendership front as they possess one of the top 10 players in the NBA and when that's the case, you're always on the clock.

The Rockets can be the fun, entertaining offense they set out to be without the pressure to contend and all along attract free agents as they do so.

Andrew Bogut and Festus Ezeli Become Viable Short-Term Options

The Rockets are badly in the market for some big-man depth after losing Dwight Howard in free agency with Clint Capela as the best center on the roster. While Capela can certainly make for a very capable future starting center, the Rockets are going to be clawing for boards and rim-protections when he sits.

With Kevin Durant choosing the Warriors, Andrew Bogut and Festus Ezeli immediately become expendable. The Warriors need to shed Bogut's $11 million to make room for Durant and Festus will be near impossible to justify keeping. Should the Rockets become trade partners with the Warriors, they get a capable starting caliber center on a short-term deal who's already familiar with Mike D'Antoni's offense (the Warriors have adapted it these last two years).

Russell Westbrook

Ah, yes. It's time to plant the seed.

With Kevin Durant leaving the Oklahoma City Thunder, Russell Westbrook becomes a man stranded on an island in Oklahoma City. In 2017, however, he becomes an unrestricted free agent.

As the salary cap to near $107 million next year (according to estimates), many teams will be suitors for Westbrook's services. However, few teams can tout possessing a Top 10 caliber player.

Even fewer teams can tout having a top 10 player with a relationship already built with Russell Westbrook. The Rockets have currently have roughly $10 million in cap space left and when the salary cap jumps to $107, they'll have roughly $23 million. With some salary cap magic and unloading a few contracts, the Rockets can maneuver their way into max cap space next summer and go after Westbrook.

If the Rockets can just become a fun, good team with an identity this year, that could be enough to attract Westbrook. Westbrook is a competitive personality and he'll ultimately settle on a destination that'll help him win next summer. With a solid year, Houston can be that destination.

A duo of James Harden and Russell Westbrook combined with the good players they have on roster (Ariza, Capela, Anderson, Beverley, Gordon, etc...) could make for an intriguing dark horse contender. (Dark horse because pretty much everyone is a dark horse contender at this moment).

The landscape of the league and this decision will have crippling effects throughout the NBA (specifically other teams and how the league handles it's next negotiation battle with the Players Union in the next Collective Bargaining Agreement).

We'll write more on this topic as the 2017 free agency comes closer.

It was already an interesting summer for the Rockets and it just got that much more intriguing. 


  1. Replies
    1. Didn't he play 4 D'Antoni in PHX? I could see it. We so weak at backup C & he's not a bad option

  2. Ha ha! Its become clear that this article is a piece of crap. Almost no thought was put into this and he clearly has ignored the fact that there is always pressure to contend.

    Harden is not getting any younger and his window will close soon, but hey what do we know. If a team is strong then that means we shouldent go for the championship! Heck making the playoffs is enough!

    You also ignore the fact that Patric Beverly has beef with Westbrook. If i was westbrook i would never join a team with a small dude that injured me and Harden.

    You clearly had nothing to write about and just thought of a weak point.