Rafael Stone names Wood, Porter Jr., Tate, Martin as Rockets’ young core

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Ben DuBose
·2 min read
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With the second-worst record (13-33) in the Western Conference, there’s much more talk about draft lottery odds than there is about playoff positioning for the 2020-21 Houston Rockets.

Yet, even if the Rockets don’t have the lottery break their way, first-year general manager Rafael Stone says he really likes the young core already in place. As such, a “wholesale tank strategy” may not be necessary. In his post-trade deadline press conference on Monday, Stone said:

I think in terms of the young players in this roster, we do have kind of a young core, along with John [Wall] and Eric [Gordon], a young core that we really like; Christian [Wood] and Jae’Sean [Tate] and KP [Kevin Porter Jr.] and KJ [Martin], all guys under contract going forward.

We like those bets. We think we’ve seen growth this year. We obviously want to add to them, but I don’t think we need to do a wholesale tank strategy.

All four of those players are 25 years old or younger, and all are under contractual control through at least the 2022-23 season.

As a result, the Rockets are keeping an open mind as the 2020-21 season winds down. If they lose games, the lottery odds inherently increase. But if they win, even if it decreases those odds, it speaks well to the viability of that young core. It also might help make Houston more attractive as a trade destination, which Stone clearly wants to explore this offseason. Thus, while there certainly isn’t a “win-now” emphasis in Houston, the team is insistent that they aren’t trying to lose games, either.

Stone’s complete press conference from Monday can be viewed below.

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