Possible timelines for the Rockets rebuild
What are the paths to "winning time" for Houston?
There are two critical junctures for a rebuilding team:
The original roster tear down
The pivot to trying to win
If you’re looking at the Houston Rockets objectively, they did a pretty solid job of tearing their playoff roster down to the studs and extracting as much capital as they possibly could. It hasn’t all been perfect, but given the hands the Rockets were dealt, you couldn’t ask for *far* better returns for James Harden, Russell Westbrook, Robert Covington, and P.J. Tucker than what Houston got. Other than Eric Gordon, we can safely say they’ve put that phase of the rebuild behind them.
But now comes the harder part. It’s easy to to ace the asset acquisition phase of a rebuild. You have all the good players and thus, you have all the leverage in trades. There’s very little expectation from fans about the on-court product. Smoothly blending everything together and turning it into a winning formula is where many organizations fall flat on their face.
Look no further than the Timberwolves. Or the Hornets.
These next six months are where we’re going to find out what GM Rafael Stone is really made of. Houston doesn’t control their own first round pick next year, meaning they can’t default to tanking again. And to their credit, they’ve acquired enough high-end assets and navigated their cap well enough to theoretically not needing to tank anymore. You still have to put this all together in a way that makes sense though. The focus now has to become transitioning to winning.
Let’s war game the Rockets’ next six months in three different universes:
The disaster scenario
The pragmatic scenario
The best-case scenario
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