Huq’s Pen: Houston Rockets 2018-2019 postmortem, Part 2

  • One thing that’s always been difficult for me is the fact that the more one tinkers with their roster, the more removed you become from the emotional highs and lows of success and failure, particularly when and if the pinnacle is ever reached. Had the Rockets toppled Golden State this year, they would have accomplished that feat without Trevor Ariza, a major part of last season’s team. If they go on to move either Clint Capela or Eric Gordon this offseason, and then get past the Warriors, it would leave just James Harden, Chris Paul, and P.J. Tucker as holdovers from the 2018 loss. It would be sweet, but just wouldn’t feel the same. This is without even mentioning how much institutional knowledge and experience is lost with each transaction. The new guys next year won’t be able to dig deep and lean on the past failures as an outcome to overcome. But I guess that’s just how it goes in the modern NBA. To stagnate is to die. And it’s what makes this Warriors run so unique. Because of a perfect storm of events (such as Steph Curry’s injury history leading to a below-market deal), they’ve managed to maintain the same core group through this entire run.
  • What if the Rockets just said they weren’t going to invest resources any more in rim protection or vertical spacing? This means platooning P.J. Tucker and Isaiah Hartenstein at the ‘5’ spot, trading Clint Capela for a versatile wing with length, and then NOT investing major resources on another center (like Deandre Jordan). If the goal remains to get past Golden State, and we know that any big man will be rendered unplayable, why not just construct the roster in a manner whereby your lineup and composition remain the same against everyone? While you’re obviously facing a suicidal proposition not having long-term rim protection, I just don’t know how you can beat Golden State if you’re devoting major resources to players who can’t be used against them.
  • I don’t know what the answer is to the Capela question. Isn’t it obvious that he has to go? In some ways, perhaps its better that the Rockets lost in the way that they did, with Kevin Durant having gone down, rather than had they lost to a fully healthy Warriors team. At least now they know that even if Durant leaves, they still are looking up at the Warriors. And I’m not going to be fooled again, a third year in a row, hoping Capela suddenly figures it all out against Draymond Green. He hasn’t just underperformed – he’s been run off the court. If we stipulate that the Warriors will still be the team to beat, then you’re left with no choice but to move Capela. It’s a difficult prospect considering he’s what makes you appear insurmountable to the Denver Nuggets, another up and coming powerhouse in the West. But you just simply cannot have that many resources invested wastefully. The only way I see Capela returning is if there just isn’t a market for his services.

About the author: Rahat Huq is a lawyer in real life and the founder and editor-in-chief of

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