Speculation: Could the Rockets Target Kelly Olynyk or Tyler Zeller?


Oct 16, 2014; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Boston Celtics center Kelly Olynyk (41) in a game against the Philadelphia 76ers at the Wells Fargo Center. The Celtics defeated the Sixers 111 to 91. Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

Houston Rockets GM Daryl Morey and Boston Celtics GM Danny Ainge have a history together, and though Ainge has insisted Rajon Rondo is not up for trade, the rest of the C’s roster remains wide open.

Boston has a glut of talent at the 4/5 spots, of which Kelly Olynyk is likely the most attractive. Olynyk has started at center and played well. On opening night, he shot 8-of-14 for 19 points, six boards, two assist a steal and 1-of-2 from three-point range.

What would make this trade plausible is if Ainge felt Tyler Zeller and Jared Sullinger both have long term upside. Zeller is in his third seasos, but his finest thus far was his rookie season when he started 55 games and averaged 26 minutes per game, as a member of the Cleveland Cavaliers.

Zeller averaged 7.9 points, 5.7 rebounds and an assist per game, though he did shoot poorly, making just 43 percent from the floor.

Jared Sullinger is a nice prospect for the C’s too. Zeller and Sully could form a great future for a Boston Celtics team that isn’t likely going anywhere anytime soon.

So what could the Rockets offer to Ainge that would entice him to trade a promising stretch-5 like Olynyk?

One trade that works, in theory, is to trade Donatas Motiejunas and Nick Johnson and a second round pick for Olynyk. It checks out on ESPN’s Trade Machine.

The Hollinger analysis indicates neither team would have its winning percentage affected. That is dubious though, as is whether Ainge would part with Olynyk on the hopes of D-Mo becoming a viable center option in time. Johnson is something of a wild card, too, but a very promising one on a cheap contract (0.5 Million).

If Ainge refused to deal Olynyk, the aforementioned Zeller would not be a bad secondary plan. D-Mo could be traded straight up for Zeller. The question here is whether that would accomplish a lot. Zeller is competent, true center. D-Mo is a typical Euro big man, which is showcased in his lack of physicality.

Oct 29, 2014; Boston, MA, USA; Boston Celtics center Tyler Zeller (44) dunks against the Brooklyn Nets during the second quarter of Boston

While Zeller may not be as good as his younger brother Cody, he is hardly a big white stiff. He could play the quality minutes that will be available when Dwight Howard struggles with foul trouble.

As mentioned in the Howard piece today, Tarik Black is not going to cut it, and it seems quite plausible that Morey is calling his old buddy right now.

Ainge will want youth and draft picks, but the Rockets are in win-now mode, and picks could be sacrificed to get a big man that is capable of playing 10-18 minutes per night behind Dwight, with the opportunity to even up playing 24-28 minutes a game if Jones surrenders some minutes to either Zeller or Olynyk.

Moreover, when teams go big, the Rockets really can’t match that with D-Mo being a bit of a liability defensively.

These trades may seem to favor the Rockets, but they aren’t unfair, nor out of the realm of what could occur.