Now, after trading for James Harden just before this past season and adding Dwight Howard on Friday, Houston is suddenly primed to contend sooner than almost anybody expected.
Still, Houston general manager Daryl Morey knows nabbing Howard is only the first step in a long process for his team.
“We haven’t accomplished anything yet, but we’re putting something pretty cool together, I think,” Morey said in an interview with Comcast SportsNet Houston.
They reached the playoffs for the first time since 2009 this season and battled back from a 3-0 deficit before being eliminated by the Oklahoma City Thunder in Game 6.
Their return to the postseason showed they have plenty of speed and long-range scoring power with Harden, Jeremy Lin and Chandler Parsons. Omer Asik was a solid rebounder in the playoff run and averaged 12.3 points in the series, but it was clear that the team needed a more potent scoring threat inside.
• In other NBA news, Sacramento and Carl Landry have agreed to a four-year deal worth at least $26 million that will bring the former Purdue star back to California’s capital city.
Wagner up by 2 in Greenbrier Classic
WHITE SULPHUR SPRINGS, W.Va. (AP) — Johnson Wagner shot a 6-under 64 Saturday to take a two-stroke lead after the third round of the Greenbrier Classic.
Wagner was 14 under overall on the Old White TPC course in West Virginia. Jimmy Walker also shot a 64 and was second at 12 under.
Sweden’s Jonas Blixt was 10 under after shooting 67. Texas teenager Jordan Spieth and two others are 9 under.
Wagner entered the day one stroke behind Matt Every. Wagner had seven birdies and a bogey in his round.
No third-round leader has gone on to win the Greenbrier Classic, now in its fourth year.