In an effort to try and keep pace with and be able to beat the Golden State Warriors next season, the Houston Rockets look like they are willing to do everything they can within the rules. According to team owner Tilman Fertitta, that includes not letting the luxury tax affect them in their pursuit of free agents, including their point guard from last season, Chris Paul. This is a massive step, obviously, because it is going to take a great deal to unseat the Warriors. They have four All-Stars on one team, and keeping Paul is just the first place they have to start just to have a chance against a team that didn’t even play well in the Western Conference Finals and still won over the Rockets.
Unfortunately, the Rockets will be all but guaranteed to go over the luxury tax due to resigning Paul. But that’s just what it’s going to take in order for them to be successful this season. His max-out deal, $160 million spread over four seasons, means they have already had to make some tough calls over roster choices. That’s seen Trevor Ariza and Luc Mbah a Moute leave to join the Phoenix Suns and LA Clippers respectively. They are still in the middle of negotiations with Clint Capella, a center that has shown he can at least trouble some of the better offensive players in the league, but negotiations look like they are still well-off.
The biggest bit of news, though, is that the Rockets, allegedly, are looking into bring Carmelo Anthony to Houston. It’s believed that it will be a race between them and the Miami Heat for him. That’s going to certainly push them over the luxury tax threshold one must assume, but it could be worth it in the end if they are able to outgun the Warriors in the end. If Anthony wants to win a ring before retirement, this could be a great way to chase just that. But there’s also the option of Miami, so anything can happen when a player is offered that venue.
The Rockets, for their part, have had one of the busier summers of anyone, especially for a team that is thought to be a major contender. They have a lot of work still left to do as well, meaning they could look quite a bit different than how they lined up last season. Can they replicate, or get close to what they did, possibly improving from that, or will they falter with a new core group? It’ll be nearly a year before we truly find out that answer.