Houston Rockets

Offseason Outlook: What's next for the Houston Rockets?

We've reached the point of the season where teams are starting to be eliminated from the playoffs.

The first two teams to be eliminated? The Minnesota Timberwolves and Houston Rockets.

Having already covered what could be in store for the Timberwolves this offseason, here's where the Rockets stand as their season draws to a close...

Upcoming free agents

The Rockets have a few players who will be free agents at the season's end, the most notable of which is Kelly Olynyk, whom the franchise acquired at this season's trade deadline.

Olynyk isn't on the same development timeline as some of the other players on Houston's roster, but he's taken his game to another level since joining the Rockets, averaging 17.9 points, 7.9 rebounds and 2.9 assists over 17 games, 14 of which he's started in.

The way Olynyk has closed the season could make him a popular player in free agency.

MORE: Rockets have Olynyk back to an all-around threat

In addition to Olynyk, Dante Exum, Sterling Brown and David Nwaba will be unrestricted free agents. D.J. Wilson, Anthony Lamb and Armoni Brooks will each be restricted free agents while Avery Bradley and DaQuan Jeffries have team options, giving the Rockets control over whether or not they return,

Rockets set to be free agents (2021)
Unrestricted Free Agent(s) Restricted Free Agent(s) Team Option(s)
Kelly Olynyk D.J. Wilson Avery Bradley
Dante Exum Anthony Lamb DaQuan Jeffries
Sterling Brown Armoni Brooks
David Nwaba

According to RealGM's Keith Smith, the maximum amount of cap space the Rockets could have in the offseason is $17.9 million.

- Scott Rafferty (@crabdribbles)

The 2021 NBA Draft

According to Tankathon, the Rockets currently have 52.1 percent chance to land a top-four pick. Those same odds have them favoured - with a 47.9 percent chance - to end up with the No. 5 overall pick, but if they land outside of the top four, their pick will be conveyed to the Oklahoma City Thunder as part of the deal that swapped Chris Paul for Russell Westbrook.

Should they finish the season with the worst record in the NBA, it would be extremely detrimental to Houston's future to miss out on making a top-five selection in this year's draft.

Ideally, the ping pong balls will fall in the Rockets' favour and allow them to select Oklahoma State guard Cade Cunningham - an Arlington, Texas native - with the No. 1 overall pick. Cunningham is a franchise-altering talent who would pair perfectly with rising star Christian Wood in helping this team begin to form a nucleus for the future.

However, even if they ended up with picks Nos. 2, 3 or 4, Houston couldn't go wrong with any of Jalen Green, Jonathan Kuminga, Jalen Suggs or Evan Mobley, either. As a team that is in need of future building blocks, Green would provide a much-needed prolific scorer from the perimeter while Suggs would give them a trusty floor general. Kuminga would add a versatile defensive presence while Mobley could still slide in perfectly at centre alongside Wood in the frontcourt.

The Rockets will be just fine in selecting any of those players, just as long as their pick isn't sent to the Thunder.

- Kyle Irving (@KyleIrv_)

One burning question

Are Houston's young players going to be a vital part of the team's future?

It has been a long and strenuous season for the Rockets, but they have discovered some diamonds in the rough along the way.

Rookie forward Jae'Sean Tate has his name in the Rookie of the Year conversation and looks like a versatile defensive stopper that will certainly be a part of Houston's rebuilding blueprint.

They took a flier on Kevin Porter Jr. and the second-year guard has flourished when given the playing time, posting 15.5 points, 6.2 assists and 3.8 rebounds over 21 games played. Kenyon Martin Jr., the No. 52 overall pick in 2020, has also shown flashes of brilliance as a rebounder, defender, shot-blocker and cutting lob threat.

Tate is a 25-year-old rookie, who, after playing a few seasons overseas, signed a three-year deal with Rockets last offseason. Porter and Martin are each only 20 years old, and Porter is under contract until 2022-23 while Martin is under contract until 2023-24.

But will the Rockets try and fill the roster with established players ahead of these young, up-and-coming prospects? Or will they allow these players to continue to develop as the team looks to become contenders further down the road?

- Kyle Irving (@KyleIrv_)

One key stat

The Rockets being eliminated from the playoffs brings an end to the longest active playoff streak in the NBA. The Rockets had made the playoffs in each of the last eight seasons.

- Scott Rafferty (@crabdribbles)

The views on this page do not necessarily reflect the views of the NBA or its clubs.

More from NBA.com

CONNECTICUT SUN’S JONQUEL JONES NAMED 2021 KIA WNBA MOST VALUABLE PLAYER
Sun’s Jonquel Jones named 2021 MVP
NBA.com Staff
Scottie Barnes, Toronto Raptors
Nurse: Barnes' role will be "huge" for Raptors
Kyle Irving
Connecticut Sun Head Coach Curt Miller Named 2021 Coach Of the Year
Sun's Curt Miller named Coach Of the Year
NBA.com Staff
Former Raptors guard Kyle Lowry is now a member of the Heat
Lowry will kick Heat into new gear
Scott Rafferty
Connecticut Sun Brionna Jones Named 2021 KIA Most Improved Player
Sun's Brionna Jones named MIP
NBA.com Staff
Kyle Lowry
Lowry excited to meet Heat's championship aspirations
Yash Matange
More News