The Houston Rockets barely escaped their first-round matchup against the Oklahoma City Thunder. Houston needed all seven games to eliminate a relentless Thunder side, and their season was literally on the line with just seconds remaining in Game 7 of the epic series.

James Harden came up big for the Rockets on the defensive end, blocking a three-point attempt from the hot-handed Lu Dort, which would have given the Thunder the lead with less than five seconds remaining on the clock.

It could have very easily gone the other way. Houston could have been well on their way home right now, with the Thunder matched up against the Los Angeles Lakers in the Western Conference Semifinals.

Needless to say, a first-round exit would have had severe ramifications for Houston, who end their campaign in a very disappointing manner. It's hard not to imagine how the offseason could have played out if Dort made that shot, effectively putting an end to the Rockets' campaign.

D'Antoni and Morey's Job Security

One of the biggest questions the Rockets would have had to face on the onset would be the future of head coach Mike D'Antoni.

The 69-year-old took the helm in Houston in 2016, and the 2019-20 season marks his fourth campaign with the squad. During that time, the Rockets have been perennial contenders, and he's had one of the best players in the league in James Harden — the 2018 league MVP.

In his first three seasons with the Rockets, D'Antoni led his team to the Western Conference Finals once (2018), and to the second round twice. However, Houston was eliminated in the second round last season, and their first-round exit this term would have made it back-to-back early exits.

Would it have been time to part ways with D'Antoni? He is no longer as invincible as he once was with the front office, and another disappointing end to the season may have been the final straw for him.

The same could be said about team general manager Daryl Morey. He's been with the team since 2007, notably winning the Executive the Year award in 2018. It could be argued that Morey's post is more secure compared to that of D'Antoni, but the Hong Kong scandal might come into play here.

The Rockets ownership stood by Morey amidst the myriad of criticism he received for single-handedly starting an all-out feud between China and the NBA. This might just bite him in the back after yet another frustrating season.

Bye-bye Micro-Ball?

Coach D'Antoni received mixed reviews when he implemented yet another revolutionary style of play in his unique micro-ball, center-less lineups. The Rockets found relative success with D'Antoni's unconventional style, but at the same time, this could have been used as the scapegoat after an early exit in the postseason.

All of a sudden, the viability of the micro-ball lineup will be questioned on all levels. The critics would have a field day with their “I told you so” post-season assessments.

Being that he is Mike D'Antoni, the veteran coach would have likely stuck to his guns for the upcoming campaign, which brings us back to our previous point. If the Rockets fire D'Antoni, then it would have almost certainly mark the end of the micro-ball era in Houston.

Roster Changes 

Back-to-back first-round exits would have likely led to a major revamp on the roster — especially if the Rockets opt to part ways with D'Antoni.

As such, a lot of decisions need to be made on the future of pretty much everyone on the roster not named James Harden. To some extent, Russell Westbrook should remain untouchable. But the fact that he will be 32 in a couple of months with $130 million owed to him over the next three years, might just make the Rockets brass think twice about the Harden-Westbrook partnership.

Robert Covington has been one of Houston's best players since arriving in a mid-season trade, and he still has two years left on his deal. He should be safe. Could the same be said about Eric Gordon, who is also turning 32 this year? He signed a huge extension in 2019 that will see him earn $75.6 million over the next four years. Is this a contract the Rockets want to live with?

P.J. Tucker and Ben McLemore's expiring deals could emerge as assets in any potential trade deal, so they might be playing elsewhere next term. How about Austin Rivers, who has a player option on the final year of his contract next season? Where does he and the Rockets go from here?

It is also worth noting that the Rockets possess no draft picks for the upcoming draft. Their first-rounder is now owned by the Denver Nuggets, while their second-round pick belongs to the Sacramento Kings.

Simply put, it would have been a very interesting offseason for Houston, and they would have likely been a new-look squad for the 2020-21 campaign.