The Houston Rockets made the playoffs eight straight seasons with James Harden, reaching the Western Conference Finals twice and being right on the cusp of reaching the NBA Finals, but this Rockets franchise is now rebuilding.
The 2021-22 season was not kind to the Rockets, as they posted just 20 wins after winning only 17 games a season ago, but they did learn a lot about themselves this year.
Jalen Green, Josh Christopher, Alperen Sengun and Usman Garuba were all rookies that showed flashes of their full potential and Kevin Porter Jr. excelled in his first full season with the team.
As this young team continues to develop and play together, they will eventually help the Rockets franchise become a force again in the Western Conference, but this will simply take time.
You can't rush perfection in the case of player development, however, the potential moves this front-office makes in the offseason could very much speed things up or slow them down in terms of the Rockets’ rebuilding process.
General manager Rafael Stone and Houston’s front-office will have some big decisions to make in regards to the futures of John Wall, Christian Wood and Eric Gordon heading into the offseason and with the Rockets guaranteed to have a Top-5 pick in the 2022 NBA Draft, they will have yet another opportunity to expand on their young core.
Let’s take a look at what the Rockets may do in the offseason and three key questions they face from now until the start of the 2022-23 season.
Will Christian Wood be Traded in the Offseason?
John Wall and Eric Gordon are worth talking about in trade rumors this offseason, but Christian Wood is definitely the biggest question mark in potential trade talks surrounding the Rockets.
At the trade deadline this season, there were several teams interested in trading for Christian Wood, but the Rockets were unwilling to give him up at the price teams around the league were offering.
Not knowing what they had in rookie Alperen Sengun yet and giving up big man Daniel Theis to the Celtics at the deadline, Houston ultimately decided to hold onto Wood, leading to potential trade talks rising up again in the upcoming offseason.
Entering the final year of his contract, Christian Wood will be a free agent following the 2022-23 season, which could ultimately mean that the Rockets will not be able to keep him.
Not only will Wood be an unrestricted free agent, but Kevin Porter Jr. is going to be up for a contract extension and Houston may not want to tie themselves down to a three or four-year deal with Wood worth upwards of $20 million per year.
Expect to see the Rockets receive interest in Christian Wood and it would not come as a shock to see them move on from the 26-year-old big man in favor of giving more minutes to Alperen Sengun.
Who Will Houston Target in the 2022 NBA Draft?
A lot of this depends on where the Houston Rockets end up picking, but with Christian Wood being on the trade block and the Rockets’ backcourt looking good with Green, Porter Jr. and Christopher, they could take a long look at Chet Holmgren from Gonzaga, one of the best overall prospects in this year’s draft class.
Holmgren stands about 7-0 with a 7-6 wingspan and for many, he is the top-rated center in this upcoming draft.
In his freshman season at Gonzaga, Chet Holmgren averaged 14.1 points, 9.9 rebounds, 3.7 blocks and shot 60.7% from the floor, 39.0% from three-point range.
Should the Rockets land the No. 1 overall pick though, Paolo Banchero from Duke and Jabari Smith Jr. from Auburn will also be in play for Houston.
Both Banchero and Smith are in consideration for the No. 1 overall pick with Holmgren this season, regardless of who is picking first overall, and they are each “positionless” type of players given their ability to play on the wing or in the low-post.
If Houston lands a Top-3 pick in this year’s draft, one of those three players will be wearing a Rockets uniform next season, but should the Rockets end up with the fourth or fifth pick in the 2022 NBA Draft, it would not be shocking to see them either trade down for more future assets and draft picks or simply take Purdue’s Jaden Ivey, one of the best scoring guards in the draft.
While they do not necessarily need another guard, Ivey would provide this team with another dependable scorer and someone who can take pressure off of Kevin Porter Jr. to be the sole playmaker and shot-creator for this team.
Can the Rockets Trade John Wall or Will They Buy Him Out Of His Contract?
John Wall’s situation in Houston continues to go nowhere, as the former All-Star guard sat out the entire 2021-22 season.
Expected to opt into his $47 million player option for next season, Wall’s options at this point in his career are limited, especially since almost no team in the league wants to trade for that big of a contract, even if he is going to be in the final year of his deal.
The Los Angeles Lakers could once again look to strike a deal for John Wall involving Russell Westbrook, similar to what they proposed at the trade deadline, but it looks much more likely as of right now that the Rockets will look to reach a buyout agreement with Wall.
They simply have no need for the veteran given their youth movement and other than the Lakers with Westbrook, there is no other team around the league that would want to trade for him.
Maybe a rebuilding team like the Orlando Magic or Detroit Pistons could show interest in taking on his contract for a year, but ultimately, it is much more realistic that he gets bought out and signs a minimum-like deal with a playoff contender like the Miami Heat or the Los Angeles Clippers, both of which will be looking to add backcourt depth in the offseason.
John Wall’s future in the NBA continues to be clouded and after sitting out the entire season, durability is definitely going to be a concern for any team the Rockets reach out to in potential trade talks involving the veteran.
The Related stories on NBA basketball
- Rockets Head Coach Stephen Silas Proud Of This Season: The Houston Rockets may have finished the 2021-22 season with the worst record in the entire NBA, but head coach Stephen Silas was pleased with the progress his team made. CLICK HERE.
- What Is Next For John Wall Entering The Offseason?: Once a multi-time All-Star with the Washington Wizards, John Wall now enters the offseason with the Houston Rockets viewed as an injury-prone veteran with no direction as to what the future holds for him in the NBA. CLICK HERE.