3 offseason moves the Houston Rockets must make if the season doesn’t resume
Before the 2019-20 season was suspended due to COVID-19, the Houston Rockets had a record of 40-24. The team was in the sixth spot in the Western Conference standings.
In the first season of the James Harden-Russell Westbrook era, the Rockets had the second-best offense in the NBA in terms of points per game. Houston was averaging 118.1 points per night.
However, the Rockets were a poor defensive unit prior to play getting suspended. The Rockets were giving up 114.4 points per game. That was 22nd in the NBA.
Following the trade of center Clint Capela to the Atlanta Hawks, the Rockets had even more trouble stopping teams since they had no true big man in the starting lineup.
Houston fans are hoping the 2019-20 season resumes because their team had a good shot of at least making the Western Conference Finals with Harden and Westbrook leading the charge. However, as each day passes, it almost seems like the season is going to be canceled altogether.
If that’s the case, here are three moves Houston general manager Daryl Morey needs to make in the offseason so that the Rockets come back in 2020-21 as a better team.
3. Extend PJ Tucker
The Rockets fully guaranteed Tucker’s salary for 2020-21. The swingman will make $7,969,537 next season, the final year of his contract.
Houston has to extend Tucker once the 2020 offseason period begins. Tucker’s defense and corner 3-point shooting are critical for the Rockets, especially his defensive skills since he was tasked to guard opposing big guys after Houston traded Capela.
Tucker appeared in 64 games for the Rockets this season before Utah Jazz All-Star Rudy Gobert tested positive for COVID-19. He was averaging 7.1 points, 6.9 rebounds and 1.6 assists while shooting 43.3 percent from the field, 37.0 percent from beyond the arc and 84.1 percent from the free-throw line.
2. Trade for/sign a center
After the Rockets sent Capela to Atlanta, Tyson Chandler was basically the only true center on the roster. Houston has to either trade for a center or sign one in free agency.
According to Tim MacMahon of ESPN, Morey pulled the trigger on the Capela deal to maximize Westbrook, who had more driving lanes to attack sans Capela since there was more room on the court to operate. All the analytics backed up the decision to go with small ball.
However, if opposing teams are just going to throw the ball into the post and score at will, Westbrook dominating on offense doesn’t really matter since the Rockets are still giving up a ton of points.
If the NBA season resumes, the Rockets will try to win the whole thing with no true center. It would be interesting to watch, that’s for sure, but the odds of it happening are very, very low.
1. Extend Mike D’Antoni
D’Antoni’s offensive style has guided the Rockets to numerous wins and records. However, the team has yet to get to the Finals in the D’Antoni era. They were close in 2018 but choked in Game 7 of the 2017-18 Western Conference Finals against the Golden State Warriors.
D’Antoni will be a free agent this summer. His contract ends at the end of the 2019-20 campaign. D’Antoni has the third-most wins in franchise history. He’s won 213 games and lost just 97 since becoming the head coach of the Rockets in the summer of 2017.
What other coach is going to let Harden take whatever shots he wants and dribble the life out of the ball for the entire shot clock? D’Antoni is the perfect coach for Harden and the Rockets have to make sure he stays in town.
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