Rockets Rumors: Owner Tilman Fertitta Looking to Shed Salary to Avoid Luxury Tax

Rob Goldberg@TheRobGoldbergFeatured ColumnistFebruary 3, 2020

New Houston Rockets owner Tilman Fertitta before the start of an NBA preseason basketball game against the San Antonio Spurs Friday, Oct. 13, 2017, in Houston. (AP Photo/Michael Wyke)
Michael Wyke/Associated Press

Even with the Houston Rockets in playoff contention, owner Tilman Fertitta reportedly wants the team to shed payroll ahead of Thursday's trade deadline, according to Jabari Young of CNBC.

General manager Daryl Morey is under pressure to make a deal that helps put the team under the luxury-tax threshold, per Young.

"He's got a new owner now. This isn't the old days with Leslie Alexander; he's with Fertitta now, who counts every penny," a Western Conference executive told Young. "It's a new world there."

According to ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski, the Rockets are "actively discussing" trades that involve center Clint Capela.

Though Wojnarowski reported that Houston is looking to add a wing and another center in a Capela deal, it would be a surprising move from an on-court standpoint.

The Rockets entered Monday fifth in the Western Conference at 31-18, and James Harden and Russell Westbrook make the squad as dangerous as anyone in the NBA going into the playoffs. Capela is also a big part of the team's success as an elite defensive player, averaging 13.9 points, 13.8 rebounds and 1.8 blocks per game.

However, trading him away would clear the remainder of his $16.5 million salary in 2019-20, plus the $55.6 million owed over the next three years.

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Harden and Westbrook are each making over $40 million in 2020-21 and 2021-22, so the Rockets have to cut costs elsewhere.

Per Spotrac, Houston has the second-highest payroll in the NBA at $139.9 million, above the $132.6 million luxury-tax threshold.

The threshold for 2020-21 is expected to be $139 million, according to Wojnarowski.