Rockets Not Motivated By Luxury Tax Concerns?

FEBRUARY 4: Contradicting his original report, Young tweets that he’s been told that Fertitta has given Morey the go-ahead to make deadline deals without financial restrictions. The Rockets’ owner isn’t satisfied with the team’s place in the standings so far and wants to upgrade the roster, Young adds.

While that may be true, Houston is close enough to the tax line that it still wouldn’t be a surprise if the club ducks below it in the coming days.

FEBRUARY 3: The Rockets are looking to shave enough salary off their payroll to avoid the luxury tax, Jabari Young of CNBC.com reports.

The Rockets have been actively engaged in trade talks, most notably dangling center Clint Capela, who is in the early stages of a five-year, $90MM contract. Moving Nene, who has a non-guaranteed $10MM salary for next season, would also contribute greatly toward that goal. The Rockets have approximately $139.9MM in contractual obligations and owner Tilman Fertitta wants to get below the $132MM tax line.

Some league executives believes Rockets GM Daryl Morey is being pressured by Fertitta to decrease salary while simultaneously trying to keep the franchise in championship contention, according to Young.

Fertitta has denied in the past that he’s motivated by luxury tax concerns but the team’s moves the past two years have the look of a franchise trying to dodge the tax, Dan Feldman of NBC Sports notes. The way Houston’s 2018 offseason played out, and the curious moves it make prior to last year’s trade deadline, had the appearance of a team with tax concerns, Feldman continues.

Players like Gerald GreenThabo Sefolosha and Tyson Chandler making the veteran’s minimum could be traded and replaced by players making partial-season minimums, Feldman notes. By tossing in assets to move contracts, the Rockets will hinder their chances of upgrading the team, Feldman adds.

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26 thoughts on “Rockets Not Motivated By Luxury Tax Concerns?

  1. Jason Lancaster

    I knew Fertitta was bad news when I learned that there’s a giant mural with his face on it at the Toyota center.

    Nothing says self absorbed like paying good money to slap a giant picture of your face up on the wall, and nothing says clueless like doing it where your staff can see it everyday.

    Seriously, check out the mural pics on Instagram. He’s got his face on that thing twice, bigger than any player as far as I can tell.

    Next, he’ll fire Morey and D’Antoni, bring in Isiah Thomas as GM, hire Mark Jackson, and kick out anyone who criticizes him. Dolan two, LOL.

    • ZacharyH

      I think I remember when fertita bought the rockets he invested all of his fortune. Nothing wrong with honoring yourself with a mural really

      • Jason Lancaster

        Stop. Putting your picture up on the wall is weird (do you really need to look at yourself?), but where everyone sees it every day? He’s holding a basketball in it, right next to Westbrook and Harden!

        Did you see it? It’s ridiculous.

        • When you have a stupid amount of money (aka being a billionaire) you can do ridiculous things. When you own a team, you can do whatever the hell you want. Is it weird? Of course. But he’s the one signing the checks so he can do whatever the hell he wants to regardless of how the fans/media/players feel about.

          • x%sure

            The mural is one sign that he’s delusional; I think there are more that are less apparent. The implied unrealism would likely hurt the club’s ability to function.
            If Morey leaves that will be a popular assumption.

            Sure, the boss CAN do that… so thinks everyone who sees it. SMH kind of means that.

            Well there are worse things. But enough about the Cavs.

      • tomjoadsghost

        He worth $4.8 Billion and bought the team for $2.2. Wrote a book called Shut up and Listen! He’s not the type of billionaire anyone should defend.

        • ZacharyH

          I actually heard that book was ok. Defend him from what? He’s clearly guilty by all the evidence against him lol

  2. x%sure

    Capella + 2 of those above for TThompson would bring their roster under the tax. Their game is similar. link to basketball-reference.com
    Capella is a bit better (with more space available but not in a contract year)– but TT is expiring. Neither is good at free throws.

    Houston has been playing more small-ball of late so they might prefer a shooter for Capella… Assuming they gave up on Iguodala, who at least is reliable with the ball on the perimeter.

  3. amk3510

    Rockets are in such bad shape. Penny pinching owner in a sport where you can’t be. GM has Beverley, Williams, Harrell, 3 first round picks and 2 swaps invested in Westbrook on the supermax who no one in the right mind is bailing them out of. No cap room to bring in the necessary pieces. Oh and PJ Tucker is going to want a raise to at least 14 million per year. But go win says Fertitta.

  4. harden-westbrook-mvps

    And the other 29 owners aren’t trying to keep from paying luxury taxes too? Why is the Rockets ownership always singled out for something every team in the NBA tries to avoid? So much anti-Houston sentiment out there.

    • ChapmansVacuum

      Because you have to do the math on the balance between dollars saved and competitive advantage your sacrificing. Sometimes its not much to save a lot. Other times its a little more money for a big upgrade in performance. They are at the place in the curve where wins matter a lot, and so they should pay to climb that key place, or tear it down and rebuild. Your either going up or going down the win spectrum.

    • amk3510

      The Warriors paid the tax just so they could get their hands on DLo. Steve Ballmer would pay the tax no questions asked if it gave them a better chance to win. So would the Buss family. Houston is not a small market like Charlotte but they are sure acting like it.

    • Jason Lancaster

      Because wannabe contenders pay the tax my friend. Boston, Lakers, Clippers, Philly, Toronto, Portland, Golden State, OKC…all of these teams have paid the tax or will do so as part of their championship pursuit.

      And it makes sense to do so, because champions make a fortune off licensing, merch, ticket sales, and so on.

      The fact that Fertitta expects to win without paying the tax is laughable. But with their top heavy roster? Come on.

      Jimmy Harden is going to ask for a trade if they ship out Capella to get under the tax, and make the team worse in the process. You can count on it. Lots of owners would pay the tax to get a shot at winning with Harden, and he knows it.

  5. No kidding. It’s been obvious from his first summer, which was Wilpon-esque. Maybe he’s under capitalized or that rare soul that actually bought the team to produce income. Either way, don’t want to pay the luxury tax, fine, but the fans deserve some level of honesty, and the GM deserves a budget. Stop insulting the fans by insisting the tax doesn’t matter to you (because after all you have a private jet, my favorite) while your GM is making 8 deadline deals that can serve only one purpose.

    A team with a budget that keeps it out of the luxury tax can’t realistically operate with a veteran core with two 35% max contracts. Westbrook, not Capela, has to be traded, while he’s still playing well enough for him to return enough to fill out the roster.

    • ChapmansVacuum

      You make the money on these teams when you sell them. Thats the big profit. Buy hold sell. They sell for more the more successful they are so penny pinching in your decade of ownership burns your final sale price by more then paying for success.

      • Yes, sort of, but that only works for owners that are rich enough (or otherwise willing) to forego operating income (and maybe even eat operating losses) from team operations during their period of ownership.

        As there is no real correlation between how much an individual owner spends on his team during his ownership period, and its franchise value from his date of purchase to the date of sale (all franchise values rise and fall as a group for the most part), the league polices it to a degree. The league doesn’t want another Donald Sterling, who never spent, but still made the same return on his original investment as owners that did. They have standards that are designed to keep out people that aren’t buying teams with a small portion of their wealth, but it doesn’t always work.

    • Nobody wants Westbrook though. He’s not really an ideal fit next to most, if not all, other star players considering he’s a ball dominant guard who can’t shoot from three consistently. Plus he’s owed $41m and $44m the next two seasons plus a $47m player option for 2022-23. Westbrook is either (A) stuck in Houston the next three years, (B) swapped for another bad max contract, or (C) swapped in a deal where Houston is eating over 50% of his contract.

      • I’m not a big fan of Westbrook, and the contract is ridiculous. But I think he could be moved. He plays hard all the time, and his teams win a lot of the time. Detriot, Minny, Chicago – might bite on him, and return pieces, some positive, some negative. Anything that breaks up that 40 mm plus into smaller contracts so a roster can be filled out. You can’t operate at edge of the tax line, forbidden to cross it, year after year without depleting the talent base and demoralizing the entire organization.

  6. Strike Four

    What a sham of a franchise. Just ban Houston from having pro sports teams, they just cant do them right.

  7. Theone23

    The Rockets have been a mess for a while now. Either try and contend, or save money. No sense in trying to do both, yet accomplishing neither. The man who tries to catch too many rabbits usually ends up with none.

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