The Houston Rockets, a team specifically built to defeat the Golden State Warriors, have again been knocked out of the NBA playoffs by that very side.
Now the same question raises its head. What do they do with this team; do they fire Mike D’Antoni or blow the whole team up and start afresh?
In Game 7 of the Western Conference Finals, things got sloppy for Houston. Star man James Harden began committing turnovers and fouls, Clint Capela perhaps showed that he’s not as valuable as many thought and the Rockets’ iso-heavy offense stagnated.
There will be a lot of soul-searching in Texas following another playoff exit, but the coach is not the main factor to blame or indeed change.
There could be more variety in their play on the offensive end, to keep defences guessing and to add another dimension to their playbook. But a clever idea could be to hire a more defence-minded assistant to help D’Antoni. Drawing something up a little more complex than just switching up on attackers.
When it comes to trades, expect the Houston front office to be busy. Eric Gordon and Capela look like prime trade fodder, the latter could present them with a greater return. The center is no longer integral to the team’s success and, if the Rockets can acquire a competent centre or selection of around average fives, then it should suffice. This would allow the side to focus more on other positions that offer a greater impact, also avoiding having to pay Capela.
Capela didn’t shine against other centers he’s faced in the playoffs. He’s supposed to be better than both Andrew Bogut and Kevin Looney, but Capela looked like just another average center out on the court, not worth the salary.
However, he is good enough to get some decent perimeter players in return in a trade, or add depth to the Rockets roster. Someone like Jrue Holiday joining the team could seen NBA betting swing in their favour when it comes to Championship odds in 2020.
Holiday would be a neat acquisition if Houston can take advantage of the wobbling front office in New Orleans.
A trade is the only real personnel change that could make a significant impact, unless Daryl Morey pulls off a similar sign and trade to the one done for Chris Paul.
However, going forward there is a lot to be positive about. The Warriors are not going to be world beaters forever, especially with the defending champions preparing themselves to lose both Kevin Durant and Klay Thompson if reports are to be believed.
Houston just needs to hang in there, stay competitive and bide their time. The Rockets have pushed Golden State every step of the way during the Oakland outfit’s dominance. With their squad superiority set to be rocked this offseason, Houston is ready to pounce.