Houston Rockets’ most notable moves with Leslie Alexander as owner


Rockets owner Leslie Alexander has announced he’s selling the team.

As the owner of the Houston Rockets, Leslie Alexander has seen his share of success.

When he bought the team in 1993, it couldn’t have been a better time. The Rockets won NBA titles in his first two seasons and had the league’s MVP, Hakeem Olajuwon.

The Rockets posted a 56.9% winning percentage with Alexander as owner, which ranks fifth over that period. They also had the second-most winning seasons of any team in the league over that span.

So as Alexander announced that he’s selling the Rockets, we take a look at some of the most notable moves the team made under his ownership.

Getting the Glide (1995)

At first, the Rockets’ decision to trade Otis Thorpe to the Portland Trail Blazers for Clyde Drexler looked like a bad move, as the team went 17-18 to finish the season. But in the playoffs, Drexler got hot and — along with Olajuwon, his ex-college teammate — led the sixth-seeded Rockets to the NBA title. Drexler averaged 21.5 points, 9.5 rebounds and 6.8 assists in the sweep of the Shaquille O’Neal/Penny Hardaway-led Orlando Magic in the Finals.

The Beard arrives (2012)

The Rockets took advantage of a snag in contract talks that James Harden was having with the Oklahoma City Thunder and traded Kevin Martin, Jeremy Lamb, two first round picks and a second round pick for Harden, Daequan Cook and Cole Aldrich. It marked the beginning of a turnaround for the Rockets, who had slipped into mediocrity in the past couple of seasons. 

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T-Mac attack (2004)

The Rockets acquired Tracy McGrady as part of a seven-player deal that sent Steve Francis to Orlando. While Francis never lived up to what the Rockets hoped he would be, McGrady teamed up with Yao Ming to help get Houston back to being one of the better teams in the Western Conference. In the three seasons that McGrady played at least 66 games, the Rockets won 51, 52 and 55 games.

Resurrecting D’Antoni (2016)

Looking for a coach before the start of the 2016-17 season, the team surprisingly hired Mike D’Antoni, who struggled during his previous two stops with the Los Angeles Lakers and New York Knicks. But D’Antoni’s decision to move Harden to point guard was a catalyst that led to a 55-27 record and a trip to the Western Conference semifinals. D’Antoni was named Coach of the Year and Harden finished second in MVP voting. 

Sir Charles (1996)

Before the 1996-97 season, the Rockets acquired Charles Barkley for Sam Cassell, Robert Horry, Mark Bryant and Chucky Brown. They got off to a 21-2 start and finished the season 57-25, good for third in the Western Conference. Although they fell short of the ultimate goal, they advanced to the conference finals, where they lost to the Utah Jazz in six games. It was Houston’s last Western Conference finals trip until 2015. 

Picking up Pippen (1999)

Barkley said he gave up money so the Rockets would be under the salary cap enough to get Scottie Pippen from the Chicago Bulls. But those good feelings ended quickly as Pippen asked to be traded after the season, citing Barkley’s selfishness and a lack of desire to win.

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Dwightmare (2013)

The biggest free agent in the summer of 2013 was Dwight Howard, who had just spent a disappointing season with the Los Angles Lakers. Howard whittled his choices to five teams, but ultimately chose Houston, where he averaged 16 points and 11.7 rebounds in three seasons. His game didn’t work well with Harden’s, though, and he ended up leaving for his hometown Atlanta Hawks.

Assist from CP3 (2017)

In one of the most surprising moves of the summer, the Rockets picked up Chris Paul for Patrick Beverley, Sam Dekker, Montrezl Harrell, Lou Williams and a first round pick, as well as a few smaller pieces. The move was made in part because Harden seemed to run out of gas by the time the Rockets lost to the San Antonio Spurs in the Western Conference semifinals. It also marks a fresh start for Paul, who has never made it past the second round of the playoffs.

Follow USA TODAY Sports Kevin Spain on Twitter @Kevin_Spain

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