Ex-Boston Celtics championship center: Get Fred VanVleet out of Amen Thompson's way

San Antonio Spurs v Houston Rockets
San Antonio Spurs v Houston Rockets / Carmen Mandato/GettyImages

Former Boston Celtics championship center and current ESPN analyst Kendrick Perkins believes Ime Udoka needs to take Fred VanVleet out of Amen Thompson's way in the Houston Rockets' rotation to allow the latter expanded opportunities to grow.

"I love the direction the Rockets are going," Perkins prefaced on X before saying, "But at some point they might have to get VanVleet outta Amen way and let him grow."

VanVleet has been the subject of much criticism from all comers, including The Houston Chronicle's Brandon Scott, who called Udoka choosing VanVleet on a multi-year, above-market value contract over trading for James Harden a "gross miscalculation."

"With first-year head coach Ime Udoka helping transition the Rockets into the next phase of their rebuild, he decided veteran point guard Fred VanVleet was a better fit for the team than James Harden," Scott prefaced before saying, "This was a gross miscalculation, no matter how much you respect VanVleet's game (which you should), or how much you resent Harden (also understandable)."

Benching Fred VanVleet for Amen Thompson would signal that Rockets are ready to rebuild

One has to assume that VanVleet wasn't signed by Houston, along with Dillon Brooks, Jock Landale, and Jeff Green, to change the trajectory of the franchise overnight and make them a postseason. If so, "gross" undersells just how bad of a miscalculation adding the former Toronto Raptors guard was.

But yanking him from the lineup now would send a signal that the group the Rockets signed over the offseason is already being given up on, and that a new rebuild is already in the works.

It's possible Houston goes down this road anyway. VanVleet could have value in the offseason to a quasi-contender that believes he can put them over the top -- something the Rockets were not this past offseason coming off a lottery finish -- and Thompson is clearly the guard of the future in the Space City.

If Houston goes down that road, though, they will have to accept the 2023-24 season as a lost campaign that didn't move them closer to anything significant. And in the first year of a new coach who was last seen leading the Boston Celtics to the NBA Finals in 2022, that'd be a major failure.