THE Z REPORT
Lance Zierlein: Rockets are forced into an "all-in" scenario
So now what? Is it time to make wide-ranging changes or is it time to sit tight? Figuring out where the Rockets go from here can be tricky unless you really think things through. Well hang on… Daryl Morey is responsible for building this team, not us. Morey crafts team building plans two years in advance so I guess you and I trying to figure things out is irrelevant.
But I’m still going to get my two cents in.
Before we talk about Lebron James or any other “solutions” to the Golden State problem, we have to figure out where the Rockets stand in the grand scheme of winning a title. The “Clutch City” Rockets obviously had great success, but they believed a changing of the roster was necessary to beat Seattle. They added Charles Barkley to the mix, but sprung a leak against the Utah Jazz and the Rockets run ended in quick death thanks, in part, due to Barkley’s inability to get in shape and stay healthy. Plus they just got hella old.
Before you make any moves at all, you have to have an honest accounting of where you stand as an organization. Let’s delve.
The Philadelphia 76’ers and Boston Celtics are built for long-term runs since their teams are built through the draft. All their best players are still young and they have roster flexibility where they can deal talented, young players for quality veterans whenever they need.
The Rockets don’t have that same luxury. The Rockets “window” is very fluid. If we acknowledge there was a better than average chance that Chris Paul may have helped right the ship in the third and/or fourth quarters of games 6 or 7, then the Rockets would have found themselves in the Finals.
But do you just hang your hat on that knowledge and keep rolling? Yes and no.
Re-signing Chris Paul is a must thanks to his ability to control the offense when needed, find points with mid-range jumpers when the 3-pointers are clanking, and provide the leadership and mental toughness this team needed.
But once you lock in with Paul, you better realize that your window for a title is very small. For as much as we love Paul, he played in just 58 games, which is the second lowest of his career. He began the season with a soft-tissue injury and ended the season with a soft-tissue injury. He’s talented but older players don’t get more healthy, only less healthy.
Once Paul is re-signed, Morey must realize that the window for winning is much tighter and will require a roster being built around the understanding that Paul is likely going to miss several games. Some of the games Paul misses could be in the playoffs. Because of this, the pursuit and recruitment of another high-end talent like Lebron James will go into overdrive.
Re-signing Paul and Clint Capela along with allowing guys like Gerald Green and Trevor Ariza to walk will still creates a status-quo situation unless the Rockets find a significantly better scorer and creator. Finding better point guard depth is a must now as well. I’m not big into small windows for success, but as long as you are going to rely on Chris Paul in 2018-2019, the Rockets have to go all-in.