NBA: Houston Rockets general manager Rafael Stone said Tuesday that he isn’t sure who will be attending the June 22 draft lottery when the team finds out where it will pick in July’s draft.
“It’s definitely not me,” Rockets coach Stephen Silas chimed in. “You see our injuries this year?”
After finishing at the bottom of the league’s standings at 17-55 the third-worst record in team history and worst since the 1982-83 season Houston has a 14% chance to secure the top pick, same as Detroit and Orlando.
If Houston’s pick falls outside of the top four about a 48% chance Oklahoma City has the right to swap Miami’s No. 18 pick for it.
Stephen Silas says the Rockets would often bring in guys he didn’t know and he would have to ask Rafael Stone about them along with watching YouTube videos before games.
— Salman Ali (@SalmanAliNBA) May 18, 2021
“We’re committed to building something that gives us a championship,” Stone said. “Not trying to package a bunch of picks to barely make the playoffs for a year or two. We’re trying to build something sustainable with something that can be good now and great later.”
It was a rough season. In December, weeks before the season started, Houston dealt Russell Westbrook to Washington for John Wall and a first-round pick.
About six weeks later, amid mounting frustration from disgruntled superstar James Harden, who had been a franchise cornerstone in Houston for nearly a decade, the Rockets traded him to Brooklyn, eventually getting Victor Oladipo and four first-round picks.
Despite the struggles, Silas and Stone expressed optimism.
“To have the season that we had, regardless of the wins and losses, and still be super hopeful for the future doesn’t happen very often in this league,” Silas said.
“When you lose as much as we did this season and still feel very good about what we have moving forward, that’s a very good feeling. I’m excited about the group, I’m excited about the organization, and I’m excited about the future.”
Silas and Stone spoke highly of Wall’s first season in Houston. When Wall made his Rockets debut, he hadn’t played in an NBA game for more than two years because of recoveries from knee and Achilles injuries.
“Those are the things that make John super impactful for our team,” Silas said. “Just the amount of pride that I have for him, based on what he did, coming back from that injury, is just immeasurable.”
Versatile big man Christian Wood was also a bright spot in his first season in Houston. After signing a three-year, $41 million deal in the offseason, Wood averaged 21.0 points and 9.6 rebounds and shot 37.4% from 3-point range.
“He plays both ends, he plays inside-out, he’s a walking bucket,” Stone said. “Christian can play. One of the really encouraging things about this year is how well Christian can play.”