NBA Rumors: Rockets GM Daryl Morey Receives ‘Green Light’ To Pay Luxury Tax, Per ‘The Houston Chronicle’

Chris Paul #3 and James Harden #13 of the Houston Rockets slap hands during a 111-106 loss to the Los Angeles Lakers at Staples Center on February 21, 2019 in Los Angeles, California.
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The Houston Rockets have gone through lots of ups and downs in the 2018-19 NBA season. Despite having a slow start, the Rockets managed to earn a playoff spot in the Western Conference and schedule a rematch against the reigning NBA champions, Golden State Warriors, in the Western Conference Semifinals. Despite losing Kevin Durant to injury, the Warriors only needed five games to advance to the next round of the NBA Playoffs 2019.

With the season officially over for the Rockets, some people are starting to think about what they intend to do in the summer of 2019. According to Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle, the Rockets aren’t expected to make a change in their starting lineup as Chris Paul, James Harden, Eric Gordon, P. J. Tucker, and Clint Capela are all under contract for the 2019-20 NBA season. However, Feigen revealed that the Rockets have lots of questions to answer regarding their second unit since most of their bench players – Kenneth Faried (unrestricted), Austin Rivers (unrestricted), Iman Shumpert (unrestricted), Danuel House Jr. (restricted), and Gerald Green (unrestricted) – will be hitting the free agency market next July.

Even without targeting big names in the 2019 NBA free agency, signing players on a cheap deal or using the mid-level exception will already bury the Rockets deep into the luxury tax hell. However, as Feigen revealed, Rockets General Manager Daryl Morey has already received a “green light” to pay the luxury tax if it means building a roster that can contend for the NBA championship title in the 2019-20 NBA season.

“Never rule out a bold move, but the most likely avenues are with the mid-level exception and minimum contracts. They could have as much as $9 million of mid-level money to spend, though given what that would take under CBA rules and the roster constraints that would bring, it is much more likely they operate with the $5.7 million exception. Though spending the exception money would push the Rockets back into the luxury tax, general manager Daryl Morey has already been given a green light to pay the tax, a person with knowledge of the team’s planning said.”

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Though they fell short from achieving their main goal, it won’t be a surprise if the Rockets decide to bring some of their incoming free agents back, especially Austin Rivers who turned himself into a dependable Sixth Man in his first season in Houston. Rivers proved to be a very reliable backup point guard who can also step up to the starting role when Chris Paul needs to rest or suffers an injury.

After re-signing Austin Rivers, Feigen suggested that the Rockets should focus on improving their frontcourt depth by finding better replacements for Danuel House Jr., Nene, and Kenneth Faried.