The Rockets are ready to move past the rebuilding stage and may be willing to include Jalen Green in an offseason trade for veteran help, sources tell Jake Fischer of Yahoo Sports. Fischer notes that new head coach Ime Udoka, general manager Rafael Stone and owner Tilman Fertitta all mentioned the team’s available cap space — which could be in the $60MM range — during Udoka’s introductory news conference this week.
The Rockets are determined to upgrade their roster, whether it’s through free agency or the trade market. There have been long-running rumors that Sixers guard James Harden is interested in a return to Houston, and Fischer hears that Bucks wing Khris Middleton was mentioned as another possibility during discussions with coaching candidates. Harden and Middleton both hold player options for next season — Harden is considered likely to opt out and Middleton is a candidate to do so too.
Fischer points out that Udoka was an assistant in Brooklyn when Harden arrived there. He has obviously worked closely with another potential target, Celtics wing Jaylen Brown, who may be made available when he becomes eligible for an extension this offseason.
Green averaged 22.1 points, 3.7 rebounds and 3.7 assists during his second NBA season, but he continues to be plagued by efficiency questions, as he shot just 41.6% from the field and 33.8% from three-point range. He was billed as a potential scoring champion when the Rockets drafted him in 2021, but it appears the organization may no longer be content to wait for the development of Green and its other young players.
Here are several more rumors from Fischer:
- Nick Nurse was considered to be a strong candidate in the Rockets‘ coaching search after he parted ways with the Raptors last week, but he never figured into the team’s interview process. Fischer states that former Lakers coach Frank Vogel and ex-Hornets coach James Borrego were the other leading contenders along with Udoka.
- Mike Budenholzer‘s job may be in jeopardy after the Bucks‘ early playoff exit, but Fischer doesn’t believe a coaching change is a sure thing. He notes that the push to replace Budenholzer before Milwaukee won the title two years ago largely came from co-owner Marc Lasry, who sold his stake in the team earlier this month. Fischer also points out that assistant Darvin Ham would have been a leading contender to replace Budenholzer at the time, but he has gone on to become head coach of the Lakers. Current assistant Charles Lee is a finalist for the opening in Detroit, and Fischer isn’t convinced that Milwaukee will make a coaching move without an obvious replacement for Budenholzer.
- Sources tell Fischer that the Raptors are planning a thorough coaching search that may extend through the draft combine in mid-May. Several potential candidates were reported Thursday night, and Fischer hears that former Toronto assistant Sergio Scariolo, who runs the Spanish national team, could get an interview as well. Scariolo currently coaches Virtus Bologna in Italy.