Addition of Paul and loss in 'Melo' sweepstakes headline Rockets' offseason

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Wednesday, October 18, 2017
Houston Rockets enter 2017-18 a changed team
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Houston Rockets enter 2017-18 a changed team

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- Despite locking down James Harden into the next decade with a humongous contract extension, the Houston Rockets are a changed team heading into the 2017-2018 season.

READ MORE: James Harden inks 4-year contract extension with Rockets

The Rockets saw changes not only with the players on the court, but also a shift in the team's future behind a new owner.

The biggest change came in the form of all-star point guard Chris Paul's arrival to H-Town. Embroiled in contract talks with his old team, Paul OK'd a sign-and-trade between the Rockets and Los Angeles Clippers.

RELATED: Fans welcome Chris Paul to Houston Rockets

Paul agreed to opt-in on a player option that will pay him about $24 million. In exchange, the Rockets shipped off seven players, including fan favorites Patrick Beverly, Sam Dekker and Montrezl Harrell. Lou Williams, DeAndre Liggins, Darrun Hilliard, and Kyle Wiltjer were also shipped off to L.A. in the trade.

While Paul is an elite point guard, Rockets fans will surely miss Beverly's heart on the floor as a leader and the focal point of the defense.

The Rockets weren't necessarily major players in the offseason free agency market, but they were able to keep Nene and Troy Williams in the fold.

The team bolstered its rotation bringing in P.J. Tucker, Luc Mbah a Moute and Tarik Black. Tucker, a former UT Longhorn, adds depth to the small forward position behind Trevor Ariza. Mbah a Moute followed Paul from Los Angeles as a defensive piece.

Black enters a second stint with Houston after playing the last two seasons with the Lakers.

In what can be the team's most intriguing signing, the Rockets brought in 7'1" center Zhou Qi from China. The team drafted Zhou in 2016 and finally brought him in to add front-court depth anchored by Clint Capela. Zhou also showed off his range during NBA Summer League, shooting 30 percent from the field.

After bringing in Paul, the Rockets seemingly were not done with bringing in big guns to the court. The team had a summer-long flirtation with the New York Knicks to acquire all-star forward Carmelo Anthony.

After months of reported certainty of a trade, Anthony, who wanted a way out from the rebuilding Knicks, eventually spurned Houston and headed for Oklahoma City.

But, above the changes with the Rockets, the team entered a new era at the top.

After Les Alexander decided to step away from the team that he has owned for 23 years, Houston native and billionaire owner of Landry's Inc., Tilman Fertitta stepped in to fulfill his dream of owning a professional sports franchise. Fertitta's dream became a reality for an NBA record $2.2 billion.

READ MORE: Who is Timan Fertitta, the man who bought the Houston Rockets for $2.2 billion?

Fertitta expressed his willingness to spend big money to attract players. In addition, Fertitta is also flirting with bringing the NHL to Houston.

Will these changes push the team to recapture the title years of the past? If Las Vegas sports books are any indication, Houston's odds are at 16-1 to win the NBA finals behind Golden State, Cleveland, Boston and San Antonio. The team, though, is a slight favorite to win the Southwest Division.

RELATED: Houston Rockets 2017-2018 schedule announced

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