Trade Deadline Moves in Store for the Houston Rockets?
By Juan Pablo Urrutia
Dec 17, 2016; Minneapolis, MN, USA; Houston Rockets forward Trevor Ariza (1) celebrates with teammates after making a game tying shot in the fourth quarter against the Minnesota Timberwolves at Target Center. The Rockets won 111-109 in Overtime. Mandatory Credit: Jesse Johnson-USA TODAY Sports
As the February 23rd trade deadline approaches, teams are looking to finalize their roster for the upcoming playoffs. The Houston Rockets could look to make some moves, but it seems like they are most likely sticking to their current roster.
By now, teams have been able to perform a SWOT (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats) analysis of their roster. They are able to see how certain lineups are performing, how players are contributing to the team’s success in their respective roles, as well as if there are any holes in either their offensive or defensive schemes.
For the Houston Rockets, it’s been a successful season to this point. They are currently sitting in the third spot of the Western Conference at 38-17. They had a very strong month of December, but it was followed by a rocky start to the new year. However, they have been able to hold it together.
Houston’s offensive scheme has been incredible for them and the defense has been acceptable at least. What’s good is that they are loaded with players who are able to shoot from behind the perimeter, allowing more scoring options if someone is having an off night. However, it seems as though there could be a change or two that would prove to be beneficial for Houston’s playoff success.
Someone who sticks out to me as a player who doesn’t fit well in Houston’s offensive scheme is Corey Brewer. Brewer is averaging 15.4 minutes per game and scoring 4.1 points on 41% shooting from the field. He is also shooting 23% from three-point range. He plays more of a defensive role for the Rockets, but it his impact is minimal considering the emphasis that the Rockets have on offense.
What Brewer does bring is great morale in the locker room and is a great teammate. He is a veteran player that brings energy off the bench and can provide great play in transition on both offensive and defensive ends of the floor. Since the Rockets look as good as they do, general manager Daryl Morey will most likely stay with the roster that he has, as he should.
Should Morey look to make some moves? Trading for another shooter off the bench could provide yet another option for the team. Here are some that could prove to be beneficial for the Rockets.
Next: First Trade Option
Dec 21, 2016; Phoenix, AZ, USA; Phoenix Suns forward P.J. Tucker (17) against the Houston Rockets at Talking Stick Resort Arena. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports
With James Harden playing so well, Morey could add a piece to try to win right now.
One option is the trade of Corey Brewer and a second round pick for Phoenix Suns forward P.J. Tucker. Tucker would be able to fit extremely well into Houston’s system offensively and defensively. He has been efficient on the scoring end, but would also prove to be a defensive presence.
For the Suns, the trade would mean getting another young player to add to their roster with the draft pick, but not much other than that. Brewer will have a couple more years of relevance, but the rebuilding Suns need as many picks as they can get. Tucker is an experienced player who could provide good value and depth off the bench. I wouldn’t mind seeing him in a Rockets uniform.
Next: Second Trade Option
Dec 2, 2016; Denver, CO, USA; Houston Rockets center Clint Capela (15) guards Denver Nuggets center Jusuf Nurkic (23) in the first quarter at the Pepsi Center. Mandatory Credit: Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports
If the Rockets didn’t add a total win-now player, it wouldn’t hurt to trade for some offense now and maybe also a piece for the future.
Another option is trading Brewer for another shooter in Mike Miller and a piece for future in Jusuf Nurkic. This trade with the Denver Nuggets could include Brewer as well as an upcoming draft pick. Mike Miller may not provide much defensively, but he has known to be a player who can contribute off the bench.
The problem with Miller is that he is on the last string of his career. This doesn’t mean he can’t be utilized in a system like Houston’s, though. Nurkic will not be the go to big man in Denver as Nikola Jokic has been playing very well this season. Nurkic, if utilized correctly, could turn into a solid rebounder and a very usable roll man with James Harden.
Next: Third Trade Option
Nov 2, 2016; New York, NY, USA; Houston Rockets shooting guard James Harden (13) controls the ball against New York Knicks shooting guard Courtney Lee (5) during the first quarter at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports
There are several ex-Rockets in the league who have been performing well, and a reunion could benefit both parties.
In an unlikely scenario, I think it would be cool to see Morey bring back an ex-Rocket. Last year, Courtney Lee had a great season with the Charlotte Hornets, and he has continued to do so with the New York Knicks. If the Knicks look to unload some players, including sending Carmelo Anthony somewhere, they could look towards a rebuilding process.
They could free up some cap space by sending Courtney Lee to the Rockets in exchange for Brewer and some draft picks. New York could look towards finding younger players in the draft to supplement the young Kristaps Porzingis this off season.
Next: Maybe No Trades
It could be that the best move for the Rockets to make would be, well, no moves.
Overall, the Rockets look good enough to not make any moves at all. In reality, a roster move would just be to add depth. When evaluating trades, a team looks at what players can and can’t bring to the table, and how long they’ll be able to be an asset to the roster.
It’s necessary for any team to have a realistic understanding of who they’re giving up and who
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they’re receiving in any trade situation For Houston, it seems as though they would like to add some offensive depth, as long as they don’t lose any pieces that impact their defense.
Even James Harden was quoted saying he likes the team as is right now, which says a lot about the difference between last year’s roster and this year’s.
Moving forward, Houston’s roster will be ready for the playoffs, partially due to the team chemistry and will to win that lacked this time last season.
At the end of the day, Daryl Morey knows what he is doing. Whatever move he makes, Houston Rockets fans can be confident about the future.
Next: Could the Houston Rockets Trade for Serge Ibaka?
Stay tuned to Space City Scoop as we cover all the potential moves that could be made leading up to the trade deadline on February 23rd.