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5 ways for the Rockets to accelerate their rebuild

Rockets Rebuild

I think most observers would say the Houston Rockets have already blown their team up and have gone into a full rebuild. And while trading James Harden and Russell Westbrook were two very big steps, they still haven’t quite torn it all the way down yet. Because of this, they sit in this weird middle ground where they still seem to have a lot of veterans on the roster and a young core that’s starving for minutes. If you’re nowhere near a playoff team, this isn’t the proper way to go about a rebuild.

In addition to still having Eric Gordon on the roster, Houston has seven other players over the age of 25. When you consider the fact that they have nine players on the team 25-years-and-under, that’s not the greatest ratio. Fans may not like it, but there’s a certain level of ruthlessness about the roster that you have to possess when rebuilding. Until there’s a star player on the roster, complete and total attachment to players is an unhealthy way to approach this rebuild for Rockets fans.

Rockets Rebuild In Quick Fashion

1. Trade Eric Gordon

This one’s pretty obvious, and at this point, inevitable to happen by the February trade deadline. However, it does need to be said that the Rockets need to find a suitor that’s willing to give a first round pick back for Eric Gordon’s services. He’s still one of the best role players in basketball and this season has been a great proving ground for his health and capabilities. Gordon’s move will also open up a ton of playing time for younger guards on the team like Josh Christopher.

2. Buyout John Wall

It’s just weird that John Wall is still on the Rockets. The arrangement he struck up with the team was strange, but cordial. The goal may have been to find Wall a new team, but as many have predicted, Houston is having trouble moving Wall’s salary. When ClutchPoints asked GM Rafael Stone before the season whether or not the team would consider a buyout, Stone was steadfast that they were not interested in doing so. However, if Stone is still unable to find that landing spot for Wall, the Rockets may want to reconsider that stance.

3. Start aggressively shopping Christian Wood and Jae’Sean Tate

They may not feel like 26-year-old players, but Christian Wood and Jae’Sean Tate are very much 26-year-old players. Wood will also be a free agent in 2023 so trading him for some first round pick equity would be pretty smart if Houston were to pursue it. Firstly, it allows them to get out of possibly overpaying for Wood in a couple years. Secondly, Wood is likely not going to be on the Rockets when they’re a playoff team again so why not trade him at his peak value?

With Tate, it’s a little different. It’s the type of move that would drive the fanbase nuts, because he’s still technically a sophomore NBA player. However, the Rockets could easily snake a first round pick away from a team for his services just because of how good of a defender and rebounder he already is. It’s a hard move to do because Tate’s rookie deal is ridiculously cheap, so the only incentives to move him other are that his age doesn’t line up with Houston’s timeline and the first round capital they could gain by selling high.

4. See if there’s a market for the fringe, rotation players

Danuel House, David Nwaba, and D.J. Augustin may be helpful NBA players on another roster, but for Houston, they’re just taking away minutes from rookies. The Rockets could probably get second round picks for these guys if they try hard enough at the deadline.

5. Gauge the market on Daniel Theis and moving him to the bench

I actually don’t think the Rockets should trade Daniel Theis, as strange of a decision as it was to bring him to Houston in the first place. Signing someone to a multi-year deal just to trade him immediately isn’t going to sit well with wood-be free agents of the Rockets. However if a team offers a first rounder for Theis, Houston should consider taking it. At the very least, Houston should be benching him in favor of Alperen Sengun, who has played better than Theis this season and is actually a part of their future. The Rockets’ big man rotation is just too packed and needs a shakeup one way or the other.