Predicted finish: 9th in the West (2nd in the Southwest, 16 in the power rankings)
Last seasons conference finish: 4th
What an offseason it was for the Houston Rockets. For a team that made the second round of the playoffs, they’ve experienced about as much turmoil as anyone. Mike D’Antoni and Daryl Morey just got up and left and stars Russell Westbrook and James Harden would’ve joined them if they were allowed. Unfortunately for them, all they could do was request a trade which both obviously did. Westbrook’s request was answered when he was sent to Washington for John Wall. Harden has yet to be as lucky. Also on this team now are Christian Wood and DeMarcus Cousins, two interesting additions in a quietly solid free agency. First year head coach Stephen Silas has his work cut out for him this season, with so much negativity in the air, will he be able to steer the ship back to some kind of positivity?
The big question for the franchise: What is going on with Harden?
Listen, we all know what the big question is for the Rockets. Harden appears to be ready to Jimmy Butler his way out but the irony is every one of these bad stories that comes about him lowers his trade value and makes him harder to move. If he just shut up and played basketball, he’d be out of there in a week. Instead, he’s dodging answering questions, throwing balls at teammates, barely showing up and just confirming every worry about himself. How is Houston supposed to trade this guy if every day he makes it harder? Harden, please just be quiet and play basketball and let the rest take care of itself because everything you’re doing now is only extending your stay in Houston.
One move I want to see them make: Trade PJ Tucker for assets
If Harden is getting moved, it’s time to start the full rebuild and up next should be PJ. Tucker would be an incredible fit in all of Miami, Boston, Brooklyn, Denver, Milwaukee and many more. There’s no way you can’t get a first for him with how many teams could use him. He’s the type of inseason move that could change a team’s fortunes. Imagine Tucker with good friend KD in Brooklyn where their biggest issue is defence. What about in Denver catching corner threes from Jokic and taking the Jerami Grant spot on defence. There’s just so many of these places it would be malpractice to not deal him before the deadline.
Offseason Grade: B+
Trading Covington for two firsts was a steal, getting a pick back for Westbrook was impressive and both the Cousins and Wood contracts were steals. I also really like the Silas hiring on top of those moves. Even in the draft where all they had was a second, Kenyon Martin Jr is a freak athlete who in some time has a chance to be a rotation player. I get the Harden debacle has clouded Houston’s offseason but the reality is, most of their moves have been flat out good.
Young player I’m excited for: Christian Wood
One of the darlings of NBA twitter is Wood. After he got a chance to start last season in Detroit with Blake Griffin out to close the season, Wood balled out. The question is, was it a flash in the pan or the sign of something actually to come? With an increased role and a more recognizable name this year, teams will actually prepare for him now and I’m fascinated to see how he handles it.
Let’s all be honest here, there’s only so much I can say about this team until Harden is resolved. Until then, it’s just going to have to be a wait and see situation for he and the rest of the franchise.