As you know, I tracked the Rockets’ rankings in various areas throughout the season last year. I started doing this two years before, but then got lazy and didn’t finish. I realized that this doesn’t have as much value as I’d like but it at least shows us the development of various trends as the season progressed. Most notably, the Rockets were terrible on the boards all season, and started out terribly offensively with Melo on the lineup, but quickly reverted to their usual elite selves after he was purged.
“No need really to make changes when you’re so close,” said Gordon, who is heading into the final season of his contract and has said he would like to reach agreement on an extension. “All we did is lose to a team like Golden State. They had a dynasty of a team. But they had a lot of injuries so it’s wide open.
The question of Eric Gordon’s future on the Rockets is something I’ve been discussing since early last season, particularly on my page at Forbes. I’ve maintained now that the question regarding Gordon’s impending free agency next summer is the last major question from a roster building standpoint during the James Harden era. Nothing has changed with the trade for Russell Westbrook.
If Houston lets Gordon walk, they’ll lose a major piece of their team with no avenue to recover – they’re hopelessly over the cap for the duration of the Harden/Westbrook marriage. The Rockets either need to trade Gordon or extend him during the season. Letting him hit unrestricted free agency during the weak free agent class of 2020 would be flirting with disaster.
I think Gordon fits even better now with Westbrook, given the need to surround Russ with shooting. Had the Rockets kept Paul, I thought a longer and more athletic wing might have made more sense. If the Rockets extend Gordon for three more seasons after next year, they can have all four of Gordon, Harden, Westbrook, and Clint Capela come off the books in the summer of 2023. Gordon would also be 33 that season.
I felt sick initially when seeing news of the trade that brought Russell Westbrook to Houston. I had never despised a player so much in my 24 years of watching professional basketball. He represented flash over substance and the Rockets traded away the player I consider the smartest in modern basketball history to get him. But I’ve since calmed down and warmed up to the trade. I’m certainly excited because Westbrook is no doubt entertaining to watch. But in the now five days which have elapsed since the deal, in reading and hearing all of the different opinions, I think I’ve come around. I understand why the Rockets felt they had to make the trade and I see how it improves the franchise’s hopes of winning a title. Yesterday, I wrote about why I hated the deal. I promised I’d give the positives today.