For the second year in a row, the Houston Rockets weren’t able to topple the Warriors in the postseason, despite Kevin Durant going down with a leg injury in Game 5. The year prior, it was a Chris Paul injury — and a historic shooting slump in Game 7 — that spoiled their championship run, but there were no such excuses this time around.
When pinpointing precisely where the Rockets have fallen short in their quest, it’s not exactly a mystery. As the architect of this team, GM Daryl Morey deliberately constructed this roster to surround James Harden and Paul with shooters and defenders. Yet the Rockets often devolved into an isolation-heavy style that simply wasn’t sustainable against a team like Golden State.
To be certain, that style didn’t fly with everyone, namely Paul. Soon after they were ousted, reports emerged about heated arguments between the team’s two stars regarding that over-reliance on one-on-one basketball, which has led to rumors that Paul wants to be traded this summer. However, Morey adamantly denied those claims during an appearance on The Dan Patrick Show on Tuesday.
Patrick: Is everybody available on the roster?
Patrick: Who’s not available?
Morey: Chris and James.
Morey went on to explain that the Rockets would like to add a third superstar to the mix rather than blow things up entirely. He also addressed the rumors about the deteriorating relationship between Paul and Harden, saying that sort of tension is natural and expected in these situations, but that the core group is eager to run it back next season.
The offseason may tell a different story, however. Despite Morey’s insistence, Houston should be inclined to listen to whatever reasonable offers might be out there, which could close the window on the Rockets’ championship designs.