Here’s a sentence we used describing the Rockets every year since Tilman Fertitta purchased the team: with this trade, the Rockets got under the luxury tax. One look at the Rockets salary cap is worth a thousand words – between talent and flexibility (read: low cost) Tilman Fertitta did what Tilman Fertitta does.
As things currently stand, the Rockets will have the 6th lowest cap in the NBA in ’21/’22 – $89,053,010. This is one of the main reasons the Rockets didn’t want Caris LeVert, as he is under contract for three years. If he remains healthy, LeVert will be a bargain at $18 million per year. But Victor Oladipo is on an expiring contract, and that flexibility obviously meant a lot to the Rockets.
Fertitta is truly trying to compete with James Dolan. The Knicks would always sign point guards a few years too late. The Rockets now have Wall, Oladipo, and Cousins – if only it were 2016. There’s a lot of injury risk on this team that seems to be going in the direction of a rebuild. Unless they make a miraculous turnaround, expect P.J. Tucker on the trade market sooner than later.
If Oladipo and Cousins play well enough and stay healthy, they can expect strong offers in the free-agent market in the summer. There’s a lot of money and not many good players available. I don’t see Fertitta getting into a bidding war with other teams for them. The next few years are destined to be John Wall, Eric Gordon, and Christian Wood fighting for the play-in tournament.
Stephen Silas can finally take a deep breath and start coaching an NBA team. The circus is out of town – it moved on to Brooklyn. Let’s see what he can do.