In a move that wasn’t a complete surprised, the Rockets allowed Wednesday’s deadline to pass to pick up the fourth-year options on the contracts of four former lottery picks.
Jordan Hill, Terrence Williams, Hasheem Thabeet and Jonny Flynn, who were all members of the 2009 draft lottery class and joined the Rockets a year later, were told Wednesday they won’t be back next season. Only Hill was a mild surprise because the former No.8 overall pick out of Arizona is the only one of the four who remains part of the Rockets regular rotation.
The thought was that Hill, who began the season as a starter, would be the only one of three former lottery picks to have his option for $3.63 million to be picked up. Additionally, the Rockets didn’t extend the contract of fourth-year guard and key bench player Courtney Lee, meaning he will become a restricted free agent this summer.
“It’s always a tough thing,” first-year Rockets coach Kevin McHale said prior to Wednesday night’s game against the Milwaukee Bucks at Toyota Center. “I was on the other end of that thing for a long time. It’s just hard. It’s not an ideal situation. It is what it is. I’d say in most instances teams are waiting. There are a few guys that signed but I would say the majority are not so it’s always hard.”
The decision allows the Rockets enough space under the salary cap to pursue some of the major free agents this summer like Deron Williams or Dwight Howard or to perhaps add a couple of solid pieces to their roster.
But for now everyone has to put Wednesday’s decision behind them and play out the remainder of the season.
“You’ve got to go do your job, that’s the bottom line,” McHale said. “You just got to go out there and play no matter what happens. It’s easier said than done but that’s the business side of it. Then tonight we will get the fun side of it and go play.”