The Rockets have tried and failed to move up in each of the four drafts under general manager Daryl Morey.
Last season, they attempted to move up from their spot at No. 14 several times, including several deals that Morey hoped would help him land Patrick Patterson, the forward he ended up taking anyway when Morey could not trade up.
After the draft lottery kept the Rockets pick at No. 14 again, he will almost certainly try again this season, this time thinking he might be better equipped to make that move.
The Rockets have three picks among the top 38 in the draft. They could have had the Suns' pick had Phoenix made the playoffs but instead get the Orlando pick at No. 23. They have the Clippers' second-round pick from the deal that sent Steve Novak to Los Angeles.
With the extra first-round pick and a roster full of signed players, Morey could be in a better position to make the move he could not in his first years as general manager.
"We tried to move up to get Patterson last season," Patterson said. "Knowing the history of us, we'll target someone again, if the price is right. It's usually a pool of guys. Our pool of guys wiped out early last year except for Patrick and we ended up getting him anyway. I do think the (No. 23) pick might help. Teams in the past bought picks in that range to move up. It could be nice to have."
The Rockets rallied back into playoff contention after the All-Star break, going 12-3 before breaking down on a road trip. They finished that run with a five-game home winning streak, knocking off the Celtics and long-time nemesis Utah before heading to Miami.
The season started. Before that, they had reason to expect a return to the playoffs. Then the Rockets lost in the last minute against the Lakers and Warriors on a road back-to-back. They returned home and lost to the Nuggets and Hornets. When they lost in overtime in San Antonio, with a win a few last free throws from reach, they fell to 0-5 with Aaron Brooks hurt and going out for six weeks. They never fully recovered.
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