Should the Houston Rockets pursue Nicolas Batum via trade?
The Houston Rockets are on the trade market for another wing to add to the team for the 2018-19 season.
There have been many names thrown around in regards to the Houston Rockets looking to trade for another wing defender. The most prominent is Kent Bazemore but another that is gaining traction in the community is Nicolas Batum.
The need for more defense comes when the Rockets were unable to re-sign Trevor Ariza and Luc Mbah a Moute. They were able to find a very capable defender in James Ennis to fulfill that role, but one more certainly wouldn’t hurt for the team to be able to keep up their No. 6 rated defense from a year ago.
Let’s go a little bit in depth to the pros and cons of a potential Nicolas Batum trade for Houston:
Nicolas Batum is certainly a good player in this league. He is the definition of an all-around player, being able to score and defend while also being a decent playmaker. He has hovered around 5 assists per game ever since the 2012-13 season when he was still with Portland.
He would be an interesting fit in Houston. He certainly could fit the defensive mindset of switching most anything and could be an interesting option starting or off the bench. Batum was a very bad defensive player last season, but that likely had to do with his injury problems, because he’s always been at least decent on that end of the court. If healthy, he could come back and be a productive defender.
His shooting was also down the last two seasons. His career 3-point shooting percentage, though, is actually slightly higher than Trevor Ariza’s. All the Rockets would need for him to do is shoot the open 3 and defend at his capability.
Batum, when healthy, has always been a great role player that has the ability to drop a triple-double on any given night. He could be a great addition for Houston if they traded for him and if he is 100%.
We briefly spoke of this earlier, but injuries are a problem for Batum. He missed 18 games last season and was not very productive in the ones in which he played. This could be the start of a decline for the once great role player.
The defense is concerning as well. Once a good defender on the perimeter, he really struggled last season. He would be in an entirely new system in Houston that could help cover up some of his flaws, but could he recover and become a decent player on that end once again?
The next issue is his contract. He’s a more productive player than Ryan Anderson, but he is being paid quite a bit more for three more seasons. He makes $24 million this year to go along with $25.5 million next year and $27.1 million the following year. That is an ugly contract to take on for someone who might be a shell of his former self.
Is he better than Ryan Anderson? Yes, but the Rockets can likely get better than Batum with his contract and a first round pick. Batum certainly isn’t a bad fallback option should nothing else work out, though.