RIP Rockets: Playmaker, Healthy Paul a Must to Make Another Run

Tuesday, May 29, 2018 2:57 PM UTC

Tuesday, May. 29, 2018 2:57 PM UTC

Losing Games 6 and 7 of the West finals after having monstrous halftime leads won't be easily forgotten by Houston's players. This will take a little while to let go of as they try to move forward.

<p>The Houston Rockets franchise, down to the floor sweeper, knows the team was good enough to knock off Golden State and <a href="" title="NBA Odds">would have been significant favorites</a> to defeat Cleveland in The Finals. The loss of Chris Paul in the series' two most crucial games was too much to overcome, especially in the final two quarters of each contest.</p><p>Houston's players and coaches will be thinking "woulda, coulda, shoulda." Unfortunately, injuries are part of the game and they have cost teams worthy of winning championships before and they will again.</p><p> </p><h2>Taking Care Of What You Can Control</h2><p>The first order of business for disappointed GM Daryl Morey is re-signing free agent starters Paul, Clint Capela and Trevor Ariza, along with key reserves Gerald Green and Luc Mbah a Moute. The latter three seem doable, as they are older and likely not in high demand.</p><p>However, where things get trickier is with Paul and Capela. Paul is eligible for a five-year max deal of $205 million. That would mean Houston in the last year of his contract would have a 37-year-old point guard who has missed an increasing number of games already.</p><p>Capela is 24 and continually improving and figures to return. But teams with cap space could force the Rockets' hand and see if Houston would be willing to match a contract offer.</p><p>Like all teams, Houston could be challenged to keep everyone and still make a title run.</p><p> </p><h2>One More Scorer/Playmaker Needed</h2><p>With extremely rare exceptions, all NBA champion teams have three primary scorers. Without Paul, Houston was down to two -- James Harden and Eric Gordon.</p><p>[/]{"component": "embedHTML", "code": "&lt;blockquote class=\"twitter-tweet\" data-lang=\"en\"&gt;&lt;p lang=\"en\" dir=\"ltr\"&gt;If you're the Houston Rockets, what do you do? Recruit LeBron James. &lt;a href=\"\"&gt;;/a&gt;&lt;/p&gt;— Stephen A Smith (@stephenasmith) &lt;a href=\"\"&gt;May 29, 2018&lt;/a&gt;&lt;/blockquote&gt;\n&lt;script async src=\"\" charset=\"utf-8\"&gt;&lt;/script&gt;\n"}[/]</p><p>Morey's job will be to find the right player that fits what they are trying to accomplish or go crazy and make a real effort to sign LeBron James and, like Golden State has done, do your best to find affordable players to help in weaker areas.</p><p>The Rockets proved they are already on par with the Warriors. On the presumption Golden State wins a third title in four years, we have already seen their level of interest decline during the regular season and even dip in the postseason.</p><p>For Houston, <a href="" title="Free NBA Picks">adding that one more player could be the difference</a>, and maybe Paul and Capela might sign deals that are team-friendlier to help the Rockets hang a banner championship banner.</p>
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