The Houston Rockets were wheeling and dealing this offseason by spending an exorbitant amount of money to sign several veteran free agents. They signed Fred VanVleet to a monstrous three-year, $130 million contract and gave Dillion Brooks a four-year, $86 million deal a day later. After that, they signed Jeff Green to a two-year $16 million deal and Jock Landale to a four-year, $32 million contract.
Houston's offseason moves were indicative of their intent to compete this upcoming 2023-24 season. With Ime Udoka taking charge as their new head coach, the Rockets should be an exciting team to keep an eye on with their mix of young guys and veterans. It will be interesting to see how their season pans out, given they do still play in the loaded Western Conference.
With the 2023-24 NBA season right around the corner, here are three burning questions the Houston Rockets must answer heading into training camp.
1. What will happen to Kevin Porter Jr.?
This is perhaps the biggest question the Rockets currently have entering the new campaign. Kevin Porter Jr. was arrested in New York nearly three weeks ago after he allegedly assaulted his girlfriend, Kysre Gondrezick, who is a WNBA free agent. Following the incident, Houston has begun to shop Porter Jr. around the league in the hopes of finding a team willing to trade for him.
Obviously, his behavior could sway away teams in bringing in a troubled individual with quite an unsettling history. If the Rockets are unable to find a trade partner for him, will they just outright cut him? Or will they go wait it out and maybe bring him back next season, like the Charlotte Hornets did with Miles Bridges?
There are several ways the Rockets can go about this. But one thing is for sure: Porter will most likely not play a lick of NBA basketball this season.
2. How will Amen Thompson look?
The Rockets were excited to give Amen Thompson a look during the 2023 Las Vegas Summer League. Unfortunately, the No. 4 overall pick suffered a left ankle injury in his very first game in Vegas and ultimately missed the entire tournament. Thompson has since been making rehab and it looks like the Overtime Elite standout is good to go for training camp.
Though Thompson has been cleared, it will be interesting how he looks in camp considering he spent majority of the offseason recovering from the ankle injury. The Rockets could thrust him into a fairly significant role from the get-go with Kevin Porter Jr.'s situation.
Thompson could very well be the primary backup point guard behind Fred VanVleet. Playing against second-unit lineups should help him get acclimated to the NBA game.
3. Is this Alperen Sengun's team?
Or perhaps an alternative: Whose team is it? The Rockets made two picks in the top-20 in the 2021 NBA Draft. They selected Jalen Green 2nd overall, then traded up to take Alperen Sengun at No. 16. Could it be that the latter is actually going to be the real franchise star of this team over the No. 2 pick?
While Green has emerged as a 20-point scorer in just his second NBA season, Rockets fans are more intrigued with the upside of Sengun. In his second NBA season, the Turkish big man averaged 14.8 points, 9.0 rebounds, and 3.9 assists per game while shooting 55.3 percent from the field.
Many NBA analysts, including JJ Redick, see star potential in Sengun and believe he could make the jump this upcoming season and really solidify himself as the Rockets' franchise star. In fact, Redick likened Sengun to a “Baby Jokic” or a Domantas Sabonis-type player where the Rockets could use him as the main hub on offense.
The Rockets have a gem sitting on their roster. Ime Udoka should help unleash Alperen Sengun this upcoming 2023-24 season.