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Rockets breaking point?

How many injuries can the Rockets sustain?

Oklahoma City Thunder v Houston Rockets
PJ Tucker looks for reinforcements. Also, 2nd highest paid Rocket currently available.
Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images

Last night the Rockets lost a game to the Brooklyn Nets despite James Harden scoring 58, catching ten rebounds and handing out six assists. That’s a tough one. Anyone would expect a win in such a situation. But this isn’t such a situation.

This is some sort of Spartans (and Thespians, don’t ever forget the Thespians) at Thermopylae thing, with James Harden in the role of King Leonidas. Despite the King of the NBA laying waste to all around him, the Rockets remain desperately shorthanded. The battles are glorious, but the outcome looks bleak at the moment.

How bad is it? Well, let’s call Eric Gordon out, because apparently he saw his shadow and went back into his hole for six more games of winter, or something. (Let’s hope it’s just a bit of a sore knee, but he was out before with a bit of a sore knee.)

So with Gordon out (humor me), 60% (roughly) of the Rockets payroll is out (Chris Paul, Clint Capela, Eric Gordon, and yes, Brandon Knight), and much of it looks to be out for a while. Four of their five highest salaries are out. James Harden is the only player making double digit millions available. Yes, the Rockets have learned to play at the disadvantage of Whatever The Ryan Anderson Deal is Now, but the loss of $15-$20 million of payroll utility of some kind, any kind, is a real one.

For whatever reason, the Rockets decided that wasn’t enough degree of difficulty, and Danuel House is down in the GLeague, while the team attempts to sign him to a longer term deal. The Carmelo Contract also exists, as does Carmelo, but one assumes he’s not in Houston, and hasn’t been for some time, but that’s an empty roster spot right now.

The West is extremely fluid. The Rockets are roughly as close to being out of the playoffs as to the top of the Conference standings. A bad week takes a team out, perhaps, while a good one can Rocket them into the thick of things.

Which leads to the question - are the Rockets fighting the right battle right now? Should every game be a desperate “Do or die?” situation? Would a late charge at full strength, and a delaying action now serve the Rockets better later? Should there be a point at which the Rockets choose to protect James Harden, limit his minutes, perhaps at the expense of wins?

I don’t know, myself. I’m not sure you CAN keep Harden out, really. What do you think?



This poll is closed

  • 43%
    Die in place. Er, hold at all costs.
    (185 votes)
  • 14%
    Fighting Withdrawal.
    (62 votes)
  • 9%
    Advance Quickly to The Rear.
    (39 votes)
  • 8%
    Wear completely worthless, but super macho, armor, whatever else you do.
    (37 votes)
  • 24%
    Mavs can both attack and defend perfectly. For they are one with Luca.
    (104 votes)
427 votes total Vote Now