Rafael Stone says he’s fully aligned with Rockets ownership on rebuilding plan
For a third consecutive season, the young Houston Rockets own the NBA’s worst record (13-45). But some of that is by design.
Because of draft obligations owed to Oklahoma City from the ill-fated 2019 trade involving Chris Paul and Russell Westbrook, Houston fully controls its own first-round draft assets in 2023 but not again until the late 2020s.
So, the Rockets are going young, with top prospects Jalen Green, Alperen Sengun and Jabari Smith Jr. taking on greater roles than they should early in their NBA careers. If they overachieve, it’s a good problem for a rebuilding team to have.
More realistically, NBA history suggests they will struggle to win at their extremely young ages, and that will maximize the value of Houston’s draft assets in those years.
In a new interview with Brian T. Smith of the Houston Chronicle, Stone cites the draft-pick timeline as a contributing factor. He also says the team plans to use its significant salary cap space in the 2023 offseason to sign veterans, which could potentially help with wins and losses, as well as development for many of those prospects.
Our goal has just been to acquire talent and acquire it and see where it would go and give these guys lots of minutes, and try — in some respects artificially — to speed up their progress. That was very much a goal and we thought we had a very tight window because, again, we have these outstanding picks that we had traded and they come due starting in 2023-24.
We had a window where we controlled our own picks, we controlled our own destiny. We knew we were going to have a very, very hard time being really competitive in that timeframe, given what we inherited, given what I inherited and my group inherited. I think we articulated that to our fan base and I think locally people paid attention.
Stone is adamant he’s aligned with Tilman and Patrick Fertitta as the Rockets’ rebuild approaches year four.
“We all bought into this. We knew what we were getting into.”
The next stage will begin as soon as another long, painful regular season is over.https://t.co/Jw4DfmfMwu
— Brian T. Smith (@ChronBrianSmith) February 18, 2023
It remains to be seen what happens after this season with head coach Stephen Silas, who is in the final fully guaranteed season of the contract he signed in 2020 to become head coach of the Rockets.
But according to Smith, Stone is adamant Rockets owner Tilman Fertitta and his influential son, Patrick Fertitta, are on board with the general manager’s long-term plan.
“We all bought into this,” Stone said, as relayed by the Houston Chronicle. “We knew what we were getting into.”
“In terms of alignment and belief in what we’re doing, I feel very strongly that we’re all on the same page,” Stone concluded.
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