The Houston Rockets finished the 2017-18 season with a 65-17 record, which was good enough for the NBA's top mark. While they fell just short of the championship round after losing Game 7 of the Western Conference Finals to the Golden State Warriors, they were clearly one of the NBA's top two teams all season.
However, the Rockets will look a little different next year, as forwards Trevor Ariza and Luc Richard Mbah a Moute signed with the Phoenix Suns and Los Angeles Clippers, respectively. The good news is that point guard Chris Paul will be back after signing a four-year contract extension.
Here's a look at some recent chatter surrounding the team.
Center Clint Capela was a key reason why the Rockets made the 10-win leap from 2017 to 2018: He averaged a double-double (13.9 points and 10.8 rebounds) for the first time in his four-year NBA campaign, and he also earned career-bests in PER (24.5), defensive box plus/minus (2.9) and rebounding rate (22.2), per Basketball Reference.
However, Capela is a restricted free agent this offseason, and he hasn't connected with a team just yet.
Per Jordan Schultz of Yahoo Sports, the Rockets seem confident on signing him:
Bringing Capela back is a priority: The Rockets can't afford to lose another skilled defensive player when two have already left. On offense, Capela showed a tremendous rapport with Chris Paul and James Harden as he slammed lob after lob off pick and rolls.
Like a few other offseason player sagas, this one is slowly dragging on into summer, so it may be a while before we see a resolution on where Capela ends up.
On July 6, Adrian Wojnarowski and Royce Young of ESPN reported that Carmelo Anthony was parting with the Oklahoma City Thunder.
Per Shams Charania of Yahoo Sports, he could be headed to the Rockets:
On one end, the Rockets would get a dependable and versatile third scorer in the starting lineup. While Anthony's form dipped last season in year No. 15 (a career-low 16 points per game), perhaps uniting with two excellent playmakers (Chris Paul and James Harden) and an offensive guru (Mike D'Antoni) will rejuvenate his game. With Eric Gordon still playing off the bench, the team could have a more dangerous offensive group than last year.
However, ESPN ranked Anthony 73rd among 84 power forwards in defensive plus-minus last season. A move for Anthony likely won't help the team's defense, which improved to sixth in efficiency last year but may drop next season.
Anthony definitely has a few good years left in the tank, so it will be interesting to see where he lands.
Cleveland Cavaliers guard Rodney Hood was traded from the Utah Jazz midseason. While Hood fared well in the regular season thanks to 14.7 points per game on 42.9 percent shooting, he didn't have as much success in the playoffs, averaging just 5.4 points in 15.3 minutes. Hood also did not play in five postseason games.
"With Rodney Hood, the Cavaliers certainly intend on bringing him back. There's been reports of some discussions between the Kings and Rodney, and maybe the Rockets and Rodney—I think the offer at this point would have to be stunning for the Cavs not to bring [Hood] back. They insist he is part of their plans."
However, as Vardon mentioned, the Rockets could be in the mix. Hood could be an interesting fit off the bench for Houston, as he and Eric Gordon could create a dynamic one-two scoring punch for the reserves.
Gordon is already one of the league's best sixth men thanks to 18.0 points per game, and with Hood complementing him on the side, other teams would have serious issues handling the Rockets' offensive depth.
That being said, the previous report indicates that the Cavs are clearly in the driver's seat for Hood, so perhaps that bench pairing will never materialize.