Possible Trade Scenarios for the Houston Rockets
Just a couple months ago, the Houston Rockets were 48 minutes away from dethroning the Golden State Warriors. The “Run It Back” motto created in the offseason by James Harden and Chris Paul would soon be put to the test after a major roster shakeup.
Losing defensive minded wings Trevor Ariza and Luc Mbah a Moute early on in free agency sent social media into a frenzy. Houston responded by adding James Ennis III, Michael Carter-Williams, and Carmelo Anthony; but they weren’t done yet. In a trade with Phoenix, the Rockets acquired Brandon Knight and Marquese Chriss for Ryan Anderson and rookie De’Anthony Melton.
Poor play, injuries, suspensions, and chemistry issues have taken their toll on the team in the early going. Looking for answers to help bounce back from a 5-7 start, Houston has become a familiar name in trade market rumors. Here are three realistic trades that we could see go down.
Option 1: The Rockets add a 3-and-D guard/wing
HOU receives: Kent Bazemore
ATL receives: Brandon Knight, Vincent Edwards, 2019 first-round pick
The Rockets have inquired about Bazemore multiple times in the past, but this time Houston pulls the trigger. With a player option at the end of this season, Atlanta may be interested in yielding a return. Houston sends over a potential backup point guard along with a young wing. The first-round pick in the upcoming draft could persuade the Hawks to accept considering that there is no guarantee that Houston will be successful like last season.
Bazemore is currently averaging 14.6 PPG, which is a career-high, but he’s only shooting 32.3% from three-point range. The Rockets’ need for a wing and the 29-year-old’s expiring contract make this trade a very possible scenario. Despite his shooting percentage this season, there’s still a ton of games to be played and Bazemore would be an upgrade over James Ennis III.
Option 2: Houston adds a defensive combo forward
HOU receives: James Johnson
MIA receives: Brandon Knight, Zhou Qi, 2021 first-round pick
Coming off on hernia surgery in May, Johnson has yet to appear on the court this season for the Heat. Rockets’ GM Daryl Morey may attempt to use that to his advantage and get the 30-year-old veteran for a discount. Not a great three-point shooter, Johnson’s defense and ability to affect games without padding the stat sheet make him a possible solution to Houston’s problems.
Adding a veteran guard in Brandon Knight and a young forward in Zhou Qi probably wouldn’t do the trick. However, the Rockets’ 2021 first-round pick and the shedding of Johnson’s contract may lead the Heat to accept the offer. A lot of what Johnson provides doesn’t come in the form of points, but in leadership, effort, and defense; these are all things the Rockets need right now.
Option 3: Houston adds another shooter
HOU receives: JR Smith
CLE receives: Brandon Knight, 2021 first-round pick
There is no doubt that JR Smith wants out of the Land and vice versa. Perhaps not the highest on the Rockets’ wishlist, Smith would still be able to provide three-point shooting. He’s a career 37.4% shooter from behind-the-arc and would fit Houston’s scheme to a T.
Defensively, Smith would not offer much and could even be a liability. However, getting rid of Brandon Knight and dishing out a 2021 first-round pick would be hard for Morey to pass up considering there is low-risk, medium-reward involved. It would speed Cleveland’s rebuild up and give them an additional draft pick to focus on the future.
*Stats accurate as of 11/14/18