Former Cleveland Cavaliers general manager David Griffin doesn’t like the moves the Houston Rockets made this offseason and believes the team took a step back.
Griffin was the Cavs’ general manager for three seasons and helped guide the franchise to its first title in 2015-16 over the Golden State Warriors. The current NBA TV analyst thinks the changes the Rockets made this summer will hurt them in the long run.
“I don’t like the fit of their pieces for a few reasons,” Griffin said on NBA TV. “Every time you radically change what you’re about in pursuit of beating GS, you actually get further away. I think that team actually may have taken a somewhat significant step backwards.”
The Rockets lost Trevor Ariza and Luc Mbah a Moute in free agency, two key departures considering both players are sound perimeter defenders and played a big role in Houston having a top-10 defense last season. Ariza signed with the Phoenix Suns, while Mbah a Moute joined the Los Angeles Clippers.
The Rockets added three players after losing Ariza and Mbah a Moute. First, they signed Carmelo Anthony to a one-year, $2.4 million deal, a move many pundits weren’t high on. In his lone season with the Oklahoma City Thunder in 2017-18, Anthony averaged a career-low 16.2 points per game and shot only 40.4 percent from the field and 35.7 percent from beyond the arc. He is considered one of the worst defenders in the league and a high-volume isolation player.
Houston also added Michael Carter-Williams and James Ennis. Carter-Williams won the 2014 Rookie of the Year award with the Philadelphia 76ers, but has been a shell of himself ever since. The 26-year-old has played for the Milwaukee Bucks, Chicago Bulls and Charlotte Hornets. He doesn’t really fit Houston’s offense because he’s not a good perimeter shooter by any means.
Ennis, meanwhile, has played for four teams in four years in the NBA. He split time last season with the Memphis Grizzlies and Detroit Pistons, and averaged 7.1 points per game. Both Carter-Williams and Ennis don’t really move the needle for Houston.
The Rockets went to the 2018 Western Conference Finals last season and were a game away from advancing to the NBA Finals. Houston took a 3-2 series lead heading into Game 6 of the Conference Finals against the Warriors, but star point guard Chris Paul missed Games 6 and 7 with a hamstring injury and the Rockets weren’t able to close out the series.