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#pounditFriday, December 4, 2020

Rockets owner says team will not blow up roster despite big changes

Russell Westbrook

The Houston Rockets will have both a new head coach and new general manager heading into the 2020-21 season, and some have wondered if those changes could be a precursor to significant roster moves. Rockets owner Tilman Fertitta says that is not going to happen.

During his weekly appearance on CNBC Tuesday, Fertitta said the Rockets still have every intention of contending next season. He believes the team’s championship window remains wide open with James Harden and Russell Westbrook leading the way.

“This is still our window, the next couple years. James and Russell are in their early 30s. We’re not blowing up anything. We plan on contending,” Fertitta said, via Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle. “I always said you want to set yourself up to be one of the top four teams in your conference each year and then it takes a little luck to win. You look at every year it always takes a little luck.

Fertitta acknowledged that having so much salary cap space committed to two star players doesn’t give the Rockets much flexibility, but he said those players are the reason Houston will be in the title hunt.

“You have James Harden and Russell Westbrook and you have almost 90 percent of your salaries tied up in them and Eric Gordon,” Fertitta said. “But anytime you have players like Eric, P.J. (Tucker), James and Russell, there’s no reason to blow up your roster.”

The Rockets didn’t put up much of a fight in the Western Conference semifinals, losing to the eventual champion Los Angeles Lakers in five games. Some external factors may have played a role in their early exit, however, and it’s hard to draw conclusions from such an unusual season.

Tyronn Lue was considered a top candidate for the Rockets head coaching job, but he was instead promoted by the Los Angeles Clippers. Houston may make a similar move with its coaching vacancy.

Either way, don’t expect Harden or Westbrook to be traded this offseason.

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