The Rockets traded multiple future first-round picks in the 2019 offseason and will enter the ’19/20 season with a group of core players who are nearly all in their 30s. While the team has made deep playoff runs in recent years, the clock is ticking on the opportunity to win a championship with the current roster, as owner Tilman Fertitta acknowledged in a conversation with Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports.
“I think we put ourselves in the position that if we don’t win it in the next three or four years, we probably aren’t going to win [a title] in the next 10 years,” Fertitta said. “This is our window, and we need to seize the opportunity.”
Houston surrendered its 2024 first-round pick (top-four protected), and 2026 first-rounder (top-four protected), along with two potential pick swaps, to acquire Russell Westbrook this summer, which will limit the team’s flexibility to make blockbuster trades going forward — and will reduce the club’s ability to add young talent down the road. However, Fertitta sounds ready to go all-in with the current group over the next couple years.
“This is the time,” Fertitta told Haynes. “I just re-signed Eric Gordon who is 30 and I’ve got Russell and James [Harden] and Eric and Clint Capela for the next four years. P.J. [Tucker] is 34 and our two stars are 30. So this is their window. Let’s seize the opportunity.”
In the wake of Gordon’s extension, all five of the players Fertitta mentioned are under contract for at least the next two years, with Westbrook and Harden locked up through at least 2021/22 and Capela’s and Gordon’s deals extending even further. Additionally, the Warriors team that eliminated Houston from the postseason in each of the last two springs is no longer quite so loaded, with Kevin Durant now in Brooklyn and Andre Iguodala in Memphis.
The Rockets’ championship upside may ultimately come down to the backcourt fit between Westbrook and Harden, and Fertitta sounds confident that the pairing will succeed, given Westbrook’s “superior” athleticism and the former MVPs’ existing relationship.
“It’s so important to have the right chemistry,” Fertitta said. “These are two guys that grew up in L.A. together and have known each other most of their lives. And they can talk to each other. You can say things to each other and the other would not get offended because you’re lifelong buddies. And so I think the chemistry’s going to be great this year.”