With the Rockets in the midst of a 13-game losing streak and their playoff chances dwindling, people around the NBA are wondering if general manager Rafael Stone will launch a full-scale rebuild this month in what could be a seller’s market, writes Jake Fischer of Bleacher Report.
One rival scout told Fischer that he keeps hearing the Rockets will hold a “fire sale” prior to this year’s deadline, while an assistant general manager predicted that the club will “burn the house down.” Another assistant GM told Bleacher Report that Houston has been starting to call teams about deals.
The Rockets haven’t had a sub-.500 season since 2005/06 and it’s unclear whether team owner Tilman Fertitta would have the patience for a multiyear rebuild. As Fischer explains, Houston still had playoff aspirations when it traded James Harden to Brooklyn in January — the decision to flip Caris LeVert for Victor Oladipo in that blockbuster deal was made in part due to the club’s belief that Oladipo would make more of an impact in the postseason race.
However, the Rockets also have incentive not to try to fight their way back up the standings, as their first-round pick will be swapped with either the Thunder’s or Heat’s pick (whichever is worse) if it doesn’t land in the top four. Even a last-place finish won’t guarantee that the Rockets hang onto their own first-rounder, but the lower they finish, the better their odds are of hanging onto a top pick that could help them secure a long-term franchise cornerstone.
Here’s more on the Rockets:
- Fischer suggests that if the Rockets hang onto Oladipo through the trade deadline, a sign-and-trade deal in the offseason appears to be the most likely outcome. “They’re too smart to just whiff and get nothing off of him,” a Western Conference official said. Still, getting anything of value in a sign-and-trade would hinge on Oladipo wanting to join a team that doesn’t have the cap room available to sign him outright.
- The Sixers are on a long list of potential suitors for P.J. Tucker, according to Fischer, who says the veteran forward would welcome the opportunity to join a 76ers team led by former Rockets GM Daryl Morey. League sources tell Bleacher Report that Houston could’ve gotten a late first-round pick from the Timberwolves in the 2020 draft for Tucker, but the team will be hard-pressed to get that strong a return now, since the 35-year-old has had a down year. “If they had a first for him now, he’d already be gone,” one GM said.
- Fischer adds that there has been a “long-whispered rumor” that the Nets and Rockets could make a swap involving Tucker and Spencer Dinwiddie. According to Fischer, wherever Tucker ends up, he’ll be looking for one last lucrative contract in the offseason, having turned down a two-year extension from the Rockets earlier in the season.
- There’s little expectation that the Rockets will trade Eric Gordon, sources tell Fischer. However, clubs may target some of the team’s other, more affordable wings, including Sterling Brown, Danuel House, Ben McLemore, and Jae’Sean Tate.