Rockets talk confidently about present, future

Chris Paul wasn't worried about losing Clint Capela.

When it comes to the big picture, the Houston Rockets have one team in mind. Not surprisingly, that team is the defending champion Golden State Warriors.

“They set the bar,” Rockets coach Mike D’Antoni told ESPN. “But we think, modestly, that we match up well against them.”

ESPN wrote an excellent in-depth piece on the Rockets, their past, present and high hopes for the future with James Harden, Chris Paul and a full catalog of supporting players who know their roles.

But can the Rockets, as great as they’ve been this season, truly challenge the Warriors? If not this season, then perhaps the next — after it becomes possible to pick up a few more free agents. And under general manager Daryl Morey, the Rockets will undoubtedly shoot for the moon.

That is likely to mean making a summer run at LeBron James, and according to ESPN, signing Paul to a long-term deal.

“We think we have a five-year window with Chris and James,” D’Antoni told ESPN.

As for the here and now, the Rockets are moving the ball, throwing in shots from all over the court and playing like a team that has taken the next step. Paul has made all the difference in the world, and stunningly, Harden seems better than ever. And the Rockets also have some capable defenders on the wing and at the rim.

Still, their plan is to outscore you. Can they do that against a team with Steph Curry, Kevin Durant, Klay Thompson and the rest?

Well, maybe.

“I don’t care what defenses do, (opponents are) not guarding us,” D’Antoni said. “Maybe that’s an exaggeration, but I want our guys to feel that way. We might mess up, or we might not shoot well. But it won’t be because of the defense. It’s about us.”