The Houston Rockets are not taking off anytime soon. They will take time to rebuild, especially in this post-James-Harden era.

And that time won’t go by fast. It will be a slow and slogging rebuild.

Right now the blueprint in Houston is to acquire young players, shed hefty veteran contacts as much as possible, and develop a youthful core. That is easier said than done.

For instance, over the past few seasons, the Rockets’ batting average at the NBA Draft has not been incredible. Since 2017, their best picks have been Dillon Brooks, whom they traded to the Memphis Grizzlies, and Jalen Green.

Other than those, nobody of note.

That can change this year as the Rockets draft No. 3 overall. The probable options are Paolo Banchero from Duke and Jaden Ivey from Purdue.

It was not always like this, of course. Houston once had both James Harden and Russell Westbrook. Those were exciting times, but they didn’t produce the Ws.

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So the Rockets decided to press the reset button and pull the trigger on a rebuild. Gone were Harden, Westbrook, erstwhile head coach Mike D’Antoni, and GM Daryl Morey.

Rebuilding was going to be tough to watch, but team owner Tilman Fertitta believed it was the right thing to do.

“It’s very painful, but I know we’re doing it the right way,” Fertitta tells Tim MacMahon of ESPN. “The future is exciting.”

First, they got former All-Star Victor Oladipo in the Harden deal, and though that fizzled out, it showed the resolve of Houston’s front office.

Looking back, the Rockets could have also opted to take guys like Jarrett Allen, Caris LeVert, and even Ben Simmons in any other kind of Harden-centric transaction, but they decided that draft capital would be more valuable moving forward. They went all-in on a youth movement in Houston.

The Rockets got what they wanted. They received Brooklyn’s picks in 2022, 2024, and 2026 plus another pick from the Milwaukee Bucks via Cleveland.

“There wasn’t an equally attractive alternative at the time. Not even close from our perspective,” current GM Rafael Stone tells ESPN. “I am a big believer in going all-in. Whether it is to go all-in to rebuild or all-in to win a championship.”

That’s what the Rockets have done. They have gone all-in on Jalen Green, Christian Wood, Kevin Porter, Jr., and whomever they’ll pick No. 3 overall this season.