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Why the signing of Luc Mbah A Moute is bigger than you think

LOS ANGELES, CA - APRIL 25: Luc Mbah a Moute
LOS ANGELES, CA - APRIL 25: Luc Mbah a Moute
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Here is why Luc Mbah A Moute signing a deal with the Houston Rockets is bigger than you think.

On Sunday, the Houston Rockets signed Luc Mbah A Moute to a one-year, veteran’s minimum deal, as first reported by ESPN’s Chris Haynes.

Mbah A Moute isn’t exactly a stat sheet stuffer. He averaged 6.1 points and 2.1 rebounds last season. Although he did manage to make 50.5 percent of his field goals and a career high 39.1 percent of his three-pointers. But Luc doesn’t pay his bills on offense, because he only attempted 4.7 shots per game. His best asset is his defense.

Luc is a 6’8″ small forward who can guard nearly any position. At 230 pounds, he is big enough to cover power forwards down low, yet still quick enough to shut down two-guards and small forwards on the perimeter.

Doc Rivers was so impressed with Luc’s defense last year that he called him the best defender in the NBA, via Dan Woike of the Orange County Register.

“Luc right now, there’s nobody in the league that’s a better defensive player than Luc,” Doc Rivers said. “What he’s doing, and when you have him and D.J. together, it just makes our defense special. And the fact that he’s scoring, it’s all gravy.”

That’s high praise from an NBA coach whose teams usually finish towards the top of the league on the defensive end. Remember the ’08 Celtics defense?

Why is signing Luc so important?

When Chris Haynes broke the news that Luc Mbah A Moute signed with the Rockets, it definitely didn’t break Twitter. In fact, much of the chatter in the comment sections of his tweet is about Carmelo Anthony, and that is precisely why acquiring Mbah A Moute was so important.

According to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, Carmelo Anthony expects the trade talks with the Houston Rockets to resume, even after New York pulled him off of the trade block. In order for Houston to bring on Carmelo Anthony’s $26 million salary, they would likely need to trade away Ryan Anderson ($19 million) along with Trevor Ariza ($7.5 million) or Tarik Black ($6.5 million). Black is the Rockets only backup center, but Houston has three small forwards with Trevor Ariza, P.J. Tucker and Luc Mbah A Moute.

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If Houston moves Ariza in a trade for Anthony, Ariza’s defense won’t be missed with the acquisitions of Tucker and Mbah A Moute. Especially when you consider that Ariza and Mbah A Moute are similar players but Luc’s salary saves Houston $6 million in cap space. Not to mention that Carmelo’s scoring makes up for the departures of Anderson and Ariza.

Even if Houston misses out on Carmelo, they have a heck of a defensive lineup that can be deployed when the Rockets are trying to hold on to a large lead.

Chris Paul, Trevor Ariza, Clint Capela, P.J. Tucker, Luc Mbah a Moute. Yeah, the Rockets sure do lack defensive talent.

— JD Shaw (@JShawNBA) July 16, 2017

Last season, the Rockets defense finished 18th in the NBA. After Houston signed P.J. Tucker, Daryl Morey said that he’d like to see Houston’s defense finish in the top 10 in the league next season.

With Chris Paul, P.J. Tucker, Trevor Ariza, Luc Mbah A Moute and Clint Capela suiting up in red next season, Morey just might get his wish.

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