The Houston Rockets were the most talked-about team ahead of the NBA off-season 2020. The reason was obvious; their key players were seemingly unhappy with the organization and had publicly shared the desire to move on.
Rewind to the 2019 off-season, where the Rockets appeared to be one of the toughest title contenders with two All-stars to lead them. But eventually, James Harden and Russell Westbrook failed to complement each other at the highest level, and they could not go deep into the playoffs. A series of mistrust and dissatisfaction then led to a team shuffle.
Houston Rockets transactions: Players signed via trades and free agency
The Rockets released Robert Covington to the Blazers in order to receive Trevor Ariza, a 2020 1st-round pick, and a 2021 protected first-round pick. Ariza has already served in the organization twice, once in 2009-10 and then later in 2014-18. This will mark his third arrival to the side, and he is owed $12.8 million in 2020-21.
The Rockets are finalizing a trade to send Robert Covington to Portland for Trevor Ariza and 2020 first-round pick and 2021 protected first-round pick, sources tell ESPN.
— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) November 17, 2020
Big man and free agent, Christian Wood has joined the Rockets on a $41 million 3-year deal. The deal will come to an official completion after a sign-and-trade between the Detroit Pistons and Wood’s new destination. His average, from February 3 onwards, has been over 22 points and close to 10 rebounds. Hence, this 25-year-old undrafted rookie can be effective for the Houston Rockets.
Most importantly, DeMarcus Cousins has made his way to Houston. Ever since 2018, DeMarcus had been dealing with various injuries (Achilles and quadriceps) and was unable to perform. His August 2019 injury (ACL tear) sidelined him from the Lakers squad, who waived him to sign Markieff Morris. But now, the 30-year-old with a double-double career average in points and boards is hungry to make a return.
Cousins will sign a one-year, non-guaranteed deal, sources said. Houston expressed interest in signing the four-time All-Star before the NBA restart in July. Cousins serves as an upside signing, and has shown focus and drive in rehab through multiple long-term injuries. https://t.co/LUCaKrWwcj
— Shams Charania (@ShamsCharania) November 23, 2020
Last but not least, Sterling Brown and Sydney Kings’ forward Jae’Sean Tate (3-year contract) has reportedly joined the Rockets in their free agency. Also, as a 52nd overall draft, the franchise had picked Kenyon Martin Jr.
Players under question
Russell Westbrook – Rumors are strong that the 9-time NBA All-star will be part of a trade swap between the Rockets and the Washington Wizards. John Wall had earlier shown his interest in moving out of the franchise that picked him in the 2010 NBA Draft.
James Harden – The franchise has already shown that they’re unhappy about how the news of Harden’s dissatisfaction went public. The Beard denied a record-setting $100 million+ 2-year deal to move out of the Rockets. He had shown his willingness to join the Brooklyn Nets, perhaps to finally win an NBA Championship. However, that rumor is now cooling off with the Nets not making any substantial move ahead. So the Rockets still seem to have a chance to keep him on the roster.
Eric Gordon – The Rockets are obviously facing salary cap limitations, and it is a valid thought that they might consider moving Gordon to build some space. They’re hard-capped due to max salaries ($41 million each) to the dynamic duo. If they let go Eric, they’ll have $16.8 million of extra breathing space. Although the question remains, who can they replace him with?
Players the Rockets lost
Apart from Robert Covington, there is a whole list of free agents that they’ve reportedly lost. The list goes to include William Howard, Thabo Sefolosha, Luc Mbah a Moute, Gerald Green, Michael Frazier, Tyson Chandler, DeMarre Carroll, Bruno Caboclo, Jeff Green (Nets), and Austin Rivers (NY Knicks).
The new Rockets roster will make them a totally different side when they enter the court for the 2020-21 season.
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