Trade Deadline Countdown: Could Houston Rockets Waste the Next Generation?

Oct 19, 2015; Houston, TX, USA; Houston Rockets guard K.J. McDaniels (32) drives to the basket during the second quarter as New Orleans Pelicans guard Chris Douglas-Roberts (55) defends at Toyota Center. Mandatory Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports
Oct 19, 2015; Houston, TX, USA; Houston Rockets guard K.J. McDaniels (32) drives to the basket during the second quarter as New Orleans Pelicans guard Chris Douglas-Roberts (55) defends at Toyota Center. Mandatory Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports /

Jan 30, 2016; Houston, TX, USA; Houston Rockets forward Clint Capela (15) attempts a free throw during the second quarter against the Washington Wizards at Toyota Center. Mandatory Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

With the Trade Deadline approaching and the Houston Rockets out of the Playoff Picture the team has reached a decisive moment. Could Daryl Morey be willing to trade his young studs for a shot in this year’s playoffs?

The Houston Rockets are poised to have personnel turnovers in the next coming weeks, that much is a given.

Following heated commentaries by J.B. Bickerstaff who alluded to the team as “Broken” and Jason Terry’s allegations of lack of chemistry after the teams loss to the Blazers and subsequent drop to 9th place in the Western Conference, there is a lot of pressure on the shoulders of GM Daryl Morey to fix the “broken Rockets”.

Many believe the issues are now beyond solvable and the only way to fix it would have to revolve around a trade of some sort.

But with reports that the Rockets have been getting offers far from acceptable for Terrence Jones or multiple NBA Defensive Player of the Year recipient  Dwight Howard, the question must be asked:

Could Daryl Morey be willing to part ways with Houston Rockets’ most promising young guys, K.J. McDaniels and Clint Capela, in order to have a more attractive trade package to offer?

The immediate answer would be: absolutely not.

And while the Rockets GM has been known for being highly unpredictable, the most likely scenario is that Houston holds on to both of them for at least a couple more years.

Yet, even if the above answer is more than expected in regards to Switzerland big man Clint Capela who became an integral part to the squad this year, and in fact spent some time in the starting lineup, the same cannot be said about K.J. McDaniels.

The Rockets organization seems to have outlined completely different paths for these players:

While Capela is being patiently groomed and looks destined to be the team’s next starting center and possibly a Rockets star of the future (as soon as Dwight Howard bolts) conversely McDaniels has been relegated to the sideline or D-League and worse appears to be getting the silent treatment.

Next: Averages

Nov 20, 2015; Memphis, TN, USA; Memphis Grizzlies forward Matt Barnes (22) guards Houston Rockets guard K.J. McDaniels (32) during the second half at FedExForum. Memphis Grizzlies beat Houston Rockets 96-84. Mandatory Credit: Justin Ford-USA TODAY Sports

Not Yet Ready For Takeoff

Let’s take a quick look at the players current per game averages:

Clint Capela: 7.2 points, 6.9 rebounds, 1.2 blocks, 20.9 minutes

K.J. McDaniels: 1.5 points, 3.9 mintues

While the comparison might be unfair seeing as McDaniels time has primarily been played in the D-league, if we were to take stats from his time with the Sixers then things would be pretty even:

K.J. McDaniels (with the Sixers): 9.2 points, 3.8 rebounds, 1.3 blocks, 25.4 minutes

It’s well worth noting that those averages are superior to Rockets current starting forward Corey Brewer.

Also it doesn’t hurt to say McDaniels was in the run for Rookie Player of the Year before being traded to the Rockets.

But despite getting a three-year 10 million dollars contract last year (signed with mid-level exception) K.J. McDaniels top moment this season as a Rocket for better or worse was as follows:

The awkward strategy pulled out by J.B. Bickerstaff (which by the way netted no benefit) ended up annoying a lot of Rockets fans and media who were hoping to get some production out of the small forward after investing a large amount of their mid-level exception on the player.

From that point forward many fans started to wonder if K.J. even had a future in the organization.

Nevertheless as hard as it is to believe, reports coming from Basketball Insider analyst Steve Kyler all but deny that view and go as far as to confirm the Rockets still view McDaniels (at age 23) as a project for the future:

They paid him to hang on to him knowing roster was changing in the future. Knew he wouldn’t play much this year

— Steve Kyler (@stevekylerNBA) February 9, 2016

By no means does that imply that McDaniels or even Capela are unobtainable whatsoever.

As people in Houston have seen far too often in the last few years, Morey will stop at nothing to improve his team, and right now these two are by far the most attractive and appealing assets on the Rockets roster and if one of them is requested and the deal is right for Morey, then it’s completely possible that it can happen.

With that in mind let’s go ahead and entertain a couple deals in which McDaniels or Capela could be packaged as a way to help Daryl Morey add real value and important pieces to improve the team.

Next: Young talent for young talent

Oct 13, 2015; Phoenix, AZ, USA; Phoenix Suns guard Archie Goodwin (20) makes a pass against Houston Rockets guard K.J. McDaniels (32) in the first half of the NBA game at Talking Stick Resort Arena. Mandatory Credit: Jennifer Stewart-USA TODAY Sports

Trade Options

Right now the best possible way to get a good deal for either K.J. McDaniels or Clint Capela in a trade is to pack them up with another player to maximize the profits from the trade.

I’ve decided to pack them with Dwight Howard due to the recent flow of rumors that Houston is in fact exploring options for trading the big man.

The first scenario revolves around the troubled Phoenix Suns who are in desperate need for a shakedown before someone ends up getting hurt

In the following setting, the Rockets would send K.J. McDaniels as well as Dwight Howard and Terrence Jones to Arizona but would demand young shooting guard Archie Goodwin.

Please note that the deal below would work just as fine by replacing P.J. Tucker and Mirza Teletovic with Markieff Morris while also excluding Terrence Jones from the picture, but I figured that it wouldn’t do any good acquiring both players involved in the recent brawl.

Take a look at how the deal would work in ESPN’s trade machine:

I’m not quite sure the Houston Rockets would benefit a lot from this deal, but it’s definitely a way of restructuring the squad while also obtaining a young talented shooter.

In the last 5 games Goodwin is averaging 18.8 points and 6.2 assists while also netting a field goal average of 50.2%

The next scenario structures a deal between the Rockets and the Miami Heat that involves Clint Capela:

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Another dubious deal for the Rockets as it would rely too much on the unstable figure of  insanely talented, but questionably unstable Hassan Whiteside.

If Whiteside is inclined to stay in Houston at a reasonable price in the upcoming season then the next step would be getting rid of Luol Deng, Chris Andersen and McRoberts and while the first two have expiring deals, McRoberts could be involved in another trade in the off season.

As you can see there are too many variables to play around with and very few rewards.

But that would definitely solve a lot of problems for the Heat as Howard would give them a better chance of beating the Cavs in the playoffs and even if Howard opts out by the end of the season, Capela would be a wonderful replacement at a very reasonable salary.

They would also get something in return for Hassan Whiteside who is a lock to leave the Heat in free agency plus they would be getting rid of Josh McRoberts who’s been a huge disappointment since arriving in Miami.

So that would be a wonderful deal for the Miami Heat – – not so much for the Rockets.

Odds Trade Will Occur

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Those are only two examples but if Morey is willing to include Rockets’ youngsters in his deals then there are many venues to be explored, I’d say that the odds for a team to be interested in a scenario where one of the two players are involved in a trade is 100%.

However the odds of Daryl Morey and the Rockets organization giving up a part of their bright future for whatever the league is currently offering would be much lower, around 5%.

Clint Capela and K.J. McDaniels may still be very young, but after Houston Rockets recent performances, as far as hope goes, there is already a lot riding on their shoulders.

If the fans are looking for answers and reaction, then the solution might already be sitting on Bickerstaff’s bench.

Next: What Would it Take for Houston Rockets to Trade Corey Brewer?

With the trade deadline around the corner, make sure you visit Space City Scoop on a daily basis 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.