It’s not even September and I’m already trying to make a roster change before the freshly minted 2023-24 Houston Rockets have even taken the court together. However, there’s a catch. What if we added a former Rocket to the current collection of talent that this front office has accumulated?
Is that déjà vu in the air? Who makes the most sense?
Before we explore this, let’s set up some parameters for this conquest.
- The former Rockets player must still be active. So no Hakeem Olajuwon, because duh.
- Let’s just throw out contract status. Pretend we can absorb this player without having to worry about how much they make and what we would need to send out to get them.
- The active player has their present-day skillset. I’ve got some bad news for you if you think that Prime James Harden is on the table.
- I’m disqualifying anybody that was moved this offseason because they were not in the plans moving forward. Thank you for your time here Josh Christopher, Usman Garuba, KJ Martin and TyTy Washington Jr.
Here’s the pool of players that first came to mind:
I will say it’s not the most impressive list given that we’re projecting forward and not going based off of past performance, but there’s still room for significant contribution. Let’s work our way down to the top target.
No thank you tier
I regret to inform Pat Bev, RoCo, Trez, EG, Mook, PJ, Russ, Christian Wood and Mr. Lowry, that they will not be moving on. These cuts weren’t too difficult to make to be honest. A case could be made for most of these guys at different stages of their careers, but not for 2023-24.
With over half of the list already eliminated, we are left with the likes of Capela, Harden, Hartenstein, Olynyk, and CP3.
Not this again tier
It’s going to have to be a no from us, Mr. Harden. Now I understand that he is still the most talented among everyone on this list, and that his play last season was in line for All-Star and All-NBA consideration, but it’s still a swift rejection over here. It’s very apparent that the organization pivoted away from giving it another go with The Beard once Ime Udoka came on board, and aren’t we so lucky for that?!
I think I would still do it tier
Am I crazy for still thinking Chris Paul could fit in here? Even with the abundance of guards, I would be willing to chance it. Whatever team he goes to gets better. It’s a fact. It doesn’t matter that he’s 38 and breaks down in the playoffs every year. Just to see the young guys get tutelage from one of the greatest floor generals the game has ever seen would be worth the price.
That being said, I still don’t have him at the top of my list, and it’s specifically because he doesn’t fill a need. Rafael Stone addressed the Point Guard position this offseason, not once, but twice with Fred VanVleet and Amen Thompson. There goes my pipe dream.
On the cusp tier
So now we’re down to three. Three bigs at that. The reason for this is because I still think we need another Center. They don’t need to supplant Alperen Şengün, but they absolutely need to be able to supplement him. It gets thin after Alpy, especially considering that Jock Landale is already dealing with an ankle injury.
Holding the bronze medal in this hypothetical scenario is Isaiah Hartenstein. He’s turned himself into a solid rotation player after his unceremonious stint with the Rockets from 2018-20. If this were real life, he’d probably best fit the profile for what a backup center’s minutes should look like behind Şengün, but he lands in third here because I still want someone who is a little more seasoned.
And the winner is... tier
Will it be Kelly Olynyk or will it be Clint Capela. One is a 32-year-old who put up career-highs through 27 games with the Rockets back in 2021. The other is a 29-year-old who spent his first six seasons in Houston as part of championship contending rosters.
This is truly a pick your poison decision here. Olynyk is the superior offensive player with his ability to stretch the floor and his passing abilities. Capela is the better defender and rebounding option, and if there’s still one area of concern remaining from this offseason, it’s rim protection.
I was leaning towards Capela going into this, but when I consider the greater versatility of lineups with Olynyk, I’ve been swayed into giving him more consideration. The Rockets ranked dead last in three-point percentage, so that certainly makes the guy who shot .394 last year much more of an attractive option.
Nevertheless, I am sticking with my gut and going with Capela. The reason being is that he’s more consistent. We know what we’re getting out of him. You can lock in 12 points - 11 boards - 1.5 blocks and a high field goal percentage just about every night.
The other pieces will fit in around him. The shooting will have to pick up from others, but that has theoretically been addressed. I’m not saying he’s the missing piece, but I believe Capela would add another dimension to this team that has been missing since he left.
Which former Rockets player would best compliment this roster?
This poll is closed