On Wednesday night against the Denver Nuggets, Houston Rockets guard Jalen Green’s up and down start to the 2023-2024 season continued. The 6’4 shooting guard exploded for 26 points on 8-for-12 shooting from the floor and 5-for-8 from long distance while finding the time to hand out nine assists and pull down six rebounds. With starting point guard Fred VanVleet sidelined, Green took on lead ball handling duties for large segments of the game. It was his third highly impressive performance out of his last four outings.
This came on the heels of a 12 point clunker from Green against the Dallas Mavericks on Tuesday night during which he shot just 5-for-14 from the floor in a critical loss that eliminated the Rockets from in-season tournament contention. Green had scored 34 and 25 points, respectively, in the previous two outings.
What the Rockets are looking for this season from Green is consistency, not just on offense but also on the defensive end. The third year guard is averaging 19.8 points per contest, while shooting 42.1% overall from the floor and 34.2% from long distance. Green is averaging 22.0 points per game on 44.8% from the floor and 37.3% on 3s in nine home games so far this season; in seven road games, he’s averaging just 16.4 points per game on 40.2% shooting overall and 34.1% on 3s.
Green’s development is of critical concern for Rockets brass. Signed to a four-year, $40.8 million contract in 2021, Green is earning just $8.9 million this season, the third year on his four-year rookie contract. Next offseason, Green will become eligible for an extension that could pay him up to 25% of the team’s salary cap. He is one of the core cornerstones of the Rockets’ rebuilding project.
The big question for Houston is whether the team would want to make such a large financial commitment to the former second overall pick. The team has already exercised its option on the fourth year of Green’s contract, the 2024-2025 season. Considered a mere formality, the option was exercised on October 30, 2023. If Green’s inconsistency continues through this season, it’s possible that the Rockets would allow him to enter restricted free agency, allowing the market to dictate his next contract (through the tender by another team of an offer sheet) rather than prematurely extending him on their own upon immediate eligibility.
The team will have until the end of this season until it needs to make that decision. For now, the Rockets hope that they get more performances like Wednesday night’s from Green.