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Should Houston Houston Rockets Trade for Brandon Jennings?

Mar 1, 2014; Houston, TX, USA; Detroit Pistons point guard Brandon Jennings (7) controls the ball during the first quarter as Houston Rockets point guard Patrick Beverley (2) defends at Toyota Center. Mandatory Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports
Mar 1, 2014; Houston, TX, USA; Detroit Pistons point guard Brandon Jennings (7) controls the ball during the first quarter as Houston Rockets point guard Patrick Beverley (2) defends at Toyota Center. Mandatory Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports
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Jan 12, 2015; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; Detroit Pistons guard Brandon Jennings (7) looks to play a ball during the first quarter in a game against the Toronto Raptors at Air Canada Centre. The Detroit Pistons won 114-111. Mandatory Credit: Nick Turchiaro-USA TODAY Sports

Countdown to NBA trade deadline February 18: Should Rockets trade for….. Brandon Jennings?

With the Houston Rockets clearly suffering in the last couple games and inconsistency this season it’s obvious G.M. Daryl Morey should entertain trade options. With the trade deadline of February 18th looming the writers at Space City Scoop are looking at options to improve Bickerstaff’s squad.

To that end, in this article I’ll explore the idea of bringing Brandon Jennings to H-town. If and why that would be a good idea. What the Rockets would have to give up for him and the odds of such a trade happening in reality in the future.

While my colleague Coty Davis examined a rather unlikely trade (by his own conclusion) involving the Hawks and Jeff Teague to the Rockets, we perhaps are moving to greener pastures and less far fetched ideas when talking about a move for Brandon Jennings.

By no accounts does this means the Rockets are actually going down this road, and even if they were it’s likely there will be other suitors ready to offer the Pistons a more attractive package than what the Rockets could.

Let’s get back to that. For now, let’s concentrate on whether pursuing Brandon Jennings may or may not be a good idea for the Rockets.

Next: Is it doable?

Mar 1, 2014; Houston, TX, USA; Detroit Pistons point guard Brandon Jennings (7) brings the ball up the court during the third quarter against the Houston Rockets at Toyota Center. Mandatory Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

What Rockets could offer, i.e. does the trade work?

First of all, it doesn’t make sense to propose any kind of deal without knowing for sure if it makes sense cap wise. That’s especially important when talking about teams like the Houston Rockets that are vastly over the cap and almost hard capped.

The Pistons are definitely able to absorb a couple more dollars but only if the deal on the table makes sense. Let’s analyze Jennings contract situation:

He is on the last year of a 3-year $24 million contract. Jennings is likely to command a much bigger contract in the off-season. The Pistons who’ve already invested $80 million in another point guard, Reggie Jackson, may be unwilling to commit top dollars to their secondary point guard.

The Houston Rockets however is another story. The team have been constantly struggling with the lack of a reliable point guard who can share the court with James Harden, create his own shots and move the ball dutifully. Ty Lawson’s experiment for the most part have been largely disappointing.

So, it makes sense for the Rockets to pursue Brandon Jennings and it makes sense for the Pistons to cash in on Jennings, give Spencer Dinwiddie or another acquired player a chance to play backup and try to make a push for the playoffs with assets from this trade.

Let’s take a look at how the deal works on paper:

Now, this trade, while successful would give the Pistons an improvement at the power forward department but it’s unlikely they would take another point guard who’s in bad shape after just giving up one. So, I went with a much more elaborate and reasonable three-team deal on ESPN’s Trade Machine.

Take a look at the next page.

Next: The Real Deal

trade machine
trade machine

The Brooklyn Nets to the Rescue

That’s what I call a deal.

Let’s review team by team why it make sense:

Houston Rockets – Acquiring a true point guard (emphasis on the point) like Brandon Jennings offers the Rockets another chance to start over and possibly find a solution with a younger floor general who still has a lot of upside. That’s a low risk high reward for the Rockets, given his contract is also expiring this year.

Detroit Pistons – Well… Should I say anything else besides that they’ll be acquiring Thaddeus Young for virtually nothing? That’s a huge improvement from Marcus Morris, Thaddeus Young might just be the missing piece the Detroit Pistons need to take the next step in a surprisingly stacked Eastern Conference.

Brooklyn Nets – For the Brooklyn Nets it’s all about rebuilding time. In this trade they would be offloading two long term contracts and get two expiring contracts back. They would still have an option to keep those two contracts if the franchise chose to. That plus Joe Johnson’s expiring contract might even give the Nets a chance to pursue a couple of big free agents in the off season.

In a way all three teams benefit from this trade. The Rockets are not likely to keep Ty after this season an the same applies to the Pistons with Jennings.

Swapping them and giving a fresh start to both might be exactly what they need. As for the Brooklyn Nets, they just want an opportunity to start over, this deal offers them that chance.

Next: Odds

Nov 21, 2015; Houston, TX, USA; New York Knicks guard Jose Calderon (3) drives the ball as Houston Rockets guard Ty Lawson (3) defends during the third quarter at Toyota Center. Mandatory Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

Odds trade will occur

I’d say that the biggest issue standing in the way of this trade is the two gentlemen above.

For one, the New York Knicks are desperately trying to deal for a point guard while also offloading  Jose Calderon. I’m not sure if it’s because Calderon doesn’t fit the triangle or New York. Either way it looks as if he’s as good as gone there.

This desperation might force the hand of Phil Jackson to nab either Jeff Teague or Brandon Jennings for a draft pick in an attempt to reach post season. The evaluation of Teague and Jennings worth and Jackson’s desire to reach the playoffs might seal this deal one way or another.

Then we have Ty Lawson. And that’s where it gets weird. Ty Lawson didn’t forget how to play basketball since last year, that’s a given. I believe the problem between Lawson and the Rockets was just about a bad fit. The problem is: his trade value is unbelievably low. And while he is much better than an injured (or even a healthy) Jarrett Jack, why would the Nets or any other team risk it?

Sure, the Rockets could offer another player like Corey Brewer or McDaniels instead of Lawson to soften the deal, but then they would have four point guards in the squad. There’s absolutely no chance for that to happen. In order to acquire a point guard the Rockets must give up one. And it’s Ty Lawson.

If and that’s a big IF there are any other takers for Lawson (because I don’t believe the Pistons would take him) the odds for this deal to happen grow exponentially. I don’t buy Stan Van Gundy wants to keep Jennings badly or that Brandon isn’t feeling uncomfortable playing backup to Jackson. To me, Brandon Jennings IS going to be traded before the deadline.

I’m just not sure if his destiny is Houston. I’ll put the odds of him playing for Clutch City at about 50%.

Next: Final Consideration - a good fit?

Oct 18, 2014; Atlanta, GA, USA; Detroit Pistons guard Brandon Jennings (7) and forward Josh Smith (6) watch from the bench against the Atlanta Hawks in the first quarter at Philips Arena. Mandatory Credit: Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports

Team Role

Since returning from injury and his short stint in the D-league, Brandon Jennings has been coming off the bench for the Detroit Pistons. His performances so far are fairly bumpy and irregular.

Take a look at his last two games for example

January 30th @Toronto: 22 Minutes, 22 Points, 7-for-14 shooting and 5-for-11 from beyond the arc – A great performance.

February 1st @Brooklyn: 17 Minutes, 3 points, 1-for-4 shooting average.

Going further down the line, we can see that although Jennings has been getting the minutes, 17, 18, 20 per game, he doesn’t shoot the ball very often. For example: before his Toronto Raptors exhibition, he only shot the ball 10 times overall in the three games that preceded.

Jennings has a career average of 14 attempts per game.

In Houston, Jennings won’t have any problems taking his shots, in fact Rockets basketball favors (not penalizes) players for takings their shots.

I also don’t believe the team has anything to fear from his past relationship with Josh Smith.

The Rockets are a proven fit for Josh’s style, he thrives here and it’s a fact. Plus it seems reports of sour relations between Josh and his former teammates all just appears to be unfounded rumors.

If Brandon Jennings can essentially become a second scorer to Harden then he could finally become the point guard the Rockets thought they were acquiring when they snatched Lawson.

Next: 2 Trades the Rockets will Likely Never Make

So what’s your take? Would you welcome Brandon Jennings to Clutch City?

With the trade deadline around the corner make sure you visit Space City Scoop daily for our trade series. Each day SCS will feature an article on who the Rockets should trade for or what it would take to part ways with the players currently on the roster. Finally we’ll assess the Rockets and each team in the Association in terms of what their needs are, if they should be buyers or sellers and also speculate on who would be the ideal trade target.

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