The Houston Rockets’ goal was and is to land a signature star. They have retooled their roster, including the move to get the Raptors’ first-round pick, with that kind of major acquisition in mind.
They even had acquired their collection of first-round picks to facilitate a deal.
As much as the Rockets’ top priority has not changed, they no longer view that longshot, however, as their all or nothing plan.
“I thought it was more important two months ago than today,” Rockets owner Leslie Alexander said of the pursuit of a trade for a franchise star. “After you watch Jeremy Lamb play, and you watch Terrence Jones play and (Donatas) Motiejunas play and Royce White play, and (Chandler) Parsons is really good, we add Jeremy Lin and it (the major trade) is important, but it’s not as ultra-important as I thought it was.”
The Rockets’ confidence in their young players would soften the blow if they have to go into the season without the dramatic addition they have sought. Once the season begins, however, they know that playing so many young players will be rough.
The Rockets have four rookie first-round picks plus last season’s second-round pick, Chandler Parsons. Even free agent additions Lin and Omer Asik have little experience.
“You for sure get a lot of ups and downs,” Rockets general manager Daryl Morey said. “What you get with veterans is more consistent play. That’s a good thing when it’s a bunch of All-Stars with consistent play. It’s not as good a thing in the league when it’s players not of that level with consistent play.
“We’re going to have stretches when we play great. We’re going to have stretches when we don’t play well at all. We like overall where it’s leading us this next season.”
They might like where it will lead — with the major move always a possibility given their cap space and young assets — but it could be difficult to get there.
“It was very risky and very hard to do,” Alexander said. “It worked out in our favor, thank God. We changed the team completely from last year. It’s almost a whole new team. You can see in summer league how good the young guys are. I think the future is really, really good.”