Despite the Rockets entering Tuesday night's action seven games behind the conference's No. 1 seed, owner Tilman Fertitta says he's not concerned about the Lakers, Clippers or any other possible playoff foes.
"We’re really good,” Fertitta told The Statesman. “We’ve lost a few games on last-second 3-pointers when we were ahead by two or we would be right there as the second seed now. But I’m not worried about anybody in the West.”
“...None of us fear L.A. or the Clippers or Denver like we feared Golden State. It’s not like how we were scared of them. We could easily win the West this year or get knocked out in the first round....Our chances are as good as they’ve ever been.”
Fertitta, now in his third year as owner of the NBA franchise he bought for $2.2 billion, has already seen countless reconfigurations of his team's roster. He's witnessed the Chris Paul era, both the good and the abrupt end. He oversaw the team's offseason trade for Russell Westbrook and he has now seen his team ship off its rim-running center Clint Capela in an effort to downsize its core lineups.
The Rockets' owner isn't bothered by his team's latest shakeup.
“We basically changed out a guy who’s 6'10" to a guy who’s 6'7", 6'8",” he said. “Are you really that much smaller? It makes the big guy for the other team go out on the perimeter. Did you see Rudy Gobert trying to keep up with Russell? Russell was running him around like crazy. It’s working.”
Houston is 8–2 its recent center-less stretch, a run that began initially as a result of a Capela injury.
The 37–20 Rockets will enter Wednesday's action just two games out of the conference's No. 2 seed.
Within the next 16 days they'll square off against both the Lakers and the Clippers. Fertitta's comments will get put to the test.