Houston Rockets 2021 offseason preview
The Rockets entered the 2020-21 league year with – at the very least – playoff aspirations. The team had just come out of a disappointing second-round outing in the 2020 playoffs, but after adding Christian Wood in free agency there was a feeling that if all went well, the roster still had enough talent. to compete for a top spot in the West and make a deep playoff run.
Instead, injuries, COVID-19 issues, and business demand for James Harden brought Houston’s season down almost before it started. The club managed to stagnate for a while, even after trading Harden in January, and were above 0.500 (11-10) until February 5. But injuries and lack of talent eventually caught up with the Rockets, and the team went into full seller mode before the trade deadline and ended the season losing 45 of their last 51 games.
The Rockets’ offseason plan:
Lottery night will be crucial for the Rockets, who have slightly better than 50/50 odds to keep their top pick protected. If that selection lands at No.5, Houston would have to send him to Oklahoma City in exchange for No.18. If he ends up in the top four, the Rockets will be in first position to write a long-term cornerstone for their. rebuild.
Either way, the Rockets will have three first-round picks, including two in the 20s. Whether they use all of those picks or end up trading one or two, general manager Rafael Stone will be under pressure to maximize their pick. value. Virtually all of the most valuable assets the team received under the Harden deal were future picks and exchanges, so Stone is betting on his ability to write well and perhaps uncover some hidden gems over the course of the years. next seasons.
Without a ton of cap flexibility, the Rockets seem unlikely to be particularly active in the free agent market. Waiting for the second or third wave of free agencies to look for veterans with good deals makes sense for the club – those veterans could contribute in the short term and perhaps be returned for assets by the trade deadline of the next year.
Stone appears to be more active in trade negotiations, with John Wall, Eric Gordon, DJ Augustin and Danuel House among the players expected to be available for a good comeback. However, Wall and Gordon are coming out of injuries and having high salaries, which will make it difficult for the Rockets to find decent value for them.
Salary ceiling situation
Note: Our salary cap projections are based on an assumed 3% increase, which would result in a cap of $ 112.4 million for 2021-22.
- John Wall ($ 44,310,840)
- Éric Gordon ($ 18,218,818)
- Christian wood ($ 13,666,667)
- DJ Augustin ($ 7,000,000)
- Maison Danuel ($ 3,894,000)
- Kevin Porter Jr. ($ 1,782,621)
- Troy Williams ($ 122,741) – Waived via stretch provision.
- Total: $ 88,995,687
Restricted free agents
Bidirectional free agents
- First round pick (cap to be determined) 2
- Global Choice # 23 ($ 2,353,320)
- Global Choice # 24 ($ 2,259,240)
- Total: to be determined
Players eligible for the extension
- John Wall (veteran)
- Maison Danuel (veteran)
Unrestricted free agents / Other ceilings
- Kelly Olynyk ($ 20,129,474): Bird rights
- Dante Exum ($ 18,240,000): Bird rights
- David Nwaba ($ 1,669,178): early bird fees
- Sterling Brown ($ 1,669,178): non-bird fees
- Total: $ 41,707,830
Cap off season Outlook
With only about $ 89 million in guaranteed cash on their books, the Rockets could theoretically have a little wiggle room during the offseason. However, unsecured wages for Tate and Martin will almost certainly be guaranteed, and the cap on their first-round picks will drastically reduce their projected space, especially if they are able to hang on to their top-four protected lottery pick. .
It is possible that Houston will make a trade or two to reduce the team’s salary and generate a cap margin, but for now we assume that the club will operate above the cap which would allow the front office to retain. its various exceptions and to retain Olynyk’s bird rights.
Limit exceptions available
- Intermediate exception: $ 9,536,000
- Semi-annual exception: $ 3,732,000 3
- Commercial exception: $ 8,180,351
- Commercial exception: $ 5,019,920
- Commercial exception: $ 2,174,318
- Commercial exception: $ 1,780,152
- Commercial exception: $ 103,894
- Martin’s salary becomes fully guaranteed after August 1.
- One of the Rockets’ three first-round picks depends on the lottery. It could end up between 1-4 or at No. 18, depending on the lottery results.
- These are projected values.
Basketball Insiders and RealGM salary and cap information was used in the creation of this article. Photos courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.