Simply, the Rockets will not have talks with star free agents on July 1st. Already, the Rockets with just 9 players are 8 million dollars under the luxury tax.
On July 1, Harden’s new contract begins, signing a $169 million Supermax extension over four years in 2017. Also, Paul conceded in the coming season whopping 38.5 million (still a total of 122 million for three years).
At least the starting five from Paul, Harden, Gordon, Tucker, and Capela seems set in stone, now it is for Morey to find the right rotation players and fill up the rest of the squad areas. The Rockets do not have a pick in this draft.
Five players become free agents, namely: Shumpert, Rivers, Gerald Green, House, and Faried. Especially Rivers and Faried will almost certainly not play for the Rockets in the coming season. For both players, Houston holds no Bird rights so you can not go over the cap for them. So Houston could offer Rivers just 2.8 million dollars, which will be for the guard clearly not enough.
Things are different with Shumpert and Green, where the Rockets hold Bird rights. But since their roles in the playoffs were not very big, here is the exit in summer completely open. Instead, Houston will have to be creative again, but GM Morey is known for that anyway. The full Taxpayer Midlevel Exception is still available, but then the Rockets would definitely be above the luxury tax limit. Houston avoided that in this season already with some wild maneuvers, which showed that Owner Fertitta would like to pay it off.
Another possibility would be, of course, the trades of own players, here there would be four candidates (Harden is untouchable, CP3’s contract is not tradeable): Gordon, Tucker, Capela, and Nene. It takes an unexpected and brilliant move to actually make this Rockets team better. Let‘s see what is gonna happen during the offseason, Rockets have a pretty long summer to make some moves to be even more competitive in order to try another run for an NBA championship ring.