Houston Rockets owner Tilman Fertitta opened up Media Day today by answering some questions on the podium, and he has some rightfully high expectations for the Rockets this season.
After the team won a franchise-record 65 games last year and fell in seven games to the Golden State Warriors in the Western Conference Finals, Fertitta wants to see at least something similar this year:
"Anything less than the Western Conference Finals would be a disappointment" - Tilman Fertita #Rockets— Alykhan Bijani (@Rockets_Insider) September 24, 2018
But naturally, Fertitta has his eye on the final prize, and in particular, is hoping for a ring for Chris Paul, citing CP3’s preternatural work ethic as a reason he deserves the chance to compete for the trophy:
“Chris Paul works extremely hard and deserves a championship.” Fertitta says luck is very important in sports, and the Rockets need some of that. pic.twitter.com/LJxnF7TCOq— Kelly Iko (@KellyIkoNBA) September 24, 2018
Ultimately, however, especially after last year’s experience when Paul went down with a balky hamstring at the end of Game 5 in the West Finals, he knows the Rockets are going to need a little bit of luck from the injury gods in order to go all the way.
Fertitta says injuries will determine whether Houston wins 58, 60, or even 70 games. pic.twitter.com/Kup4KGMl5S— Kelly Iko (@KellyIkoNBA) September 24, 2018
But Fertitta certainly feels that this is the year for the Rockets, saying he thinks they are a better team this year with the new additions, and he particular called out Carmelo Anthony, Michael Carter-Williams and James Ennis for their expected contributions.
"Don't underestimate Michael Carter-Williams or James Ennis. James Ennis is a very good basketball player." - Fertitta #Rockets— Alykhan Bijani (@Rockets_Insider) September 24, 2018
"Carmelo (Anthony) understood the role we want him to play. That could be starting or coming off the bench. I think you're gonna see Carmelo will get a lot of minutes and contribute a lot." - Fertitta #Rockets— Alykhan Bijani (@Rockets_Insider) September 24, 2018
Fertitta also discussed some financials, saying that repeater tax is hugely prohibitive, but that he’s here to win titles, and he’s not going to let $5 or $10 million stand in the way of that elusive goal:
Fertitta says the luxury tax and repeater tax is a huge hindrance but he’s here to win championships, and 5 or 10 million won’t stop him from doing so. If they weren’t winning and still paying taxes, he would go look for a new GM. pic.twitter.com/E0WsONVq2E— Kelly Iko (@KellyIkoNBA) September 24, 2018
Fertitta also mentioned some possible improvements coming at the Toyota Center in the next several years, from lighting, to presentation, to concessions, so it sounds like he has some major plans for the franchise both on and off the court.
It’s shaping up to be an exciting year on the hardwood in H-town.