With D’Antoni figuring out his rotation and the imminent return of Bzdelik, the Houston Rockets are poised to climb the standings and prove the critics wrong who predicted their demise with the roster changes the team faced before the season started.
The Houston Rockets are 6-7 so far this season and have shown improvements with their offense in the past two games indicating the team is heading in the right direction. The last two contests were played against worthy opponents, the Indiana Pacers and the Denver Nuggets, both of whom are playoff caliber teams in their respective conferences.
The team put up 76 points in the first half against Indiana which was the best half of offensive basketball it played up to that point. They slowed down considerably in the second half after only scoring 39 points, but overall finished 49% from the field and completed a sweep against the Pacers.
On Tuesday, the team played a tough Nuggets team on the road and put together a balanced performance offensively which gave Rockets fans a sign of relief. The team that finished last year with 65 wins and were 1 win away from going to the NBA finals resembled their old selves finally.
Not only has the team shown a significant improvement in their offense, but their defense has also played extremely well in the last 6 games posting a 103 DEFRTG which is 6th best in the league.
With D’Antoni figuring out his rotation and the imminent return of Bzdelik, the Rockets are poised to climb the standings and prove the critics wrong who predicted their demise with the roster changes the team faced before the season started. While the team is heading in the right direction right now, there is still uncertainty and questions regarding the SF position the team faces.
Next: Defensive wings
Ennis has been a serviceable forward for the team. However, with his relatively low usage compared to the other starters, the Rockets will have to address this concern at some point during the season.
They have attempted to do so with trade packages that would have landed Jimmy Butler. While having him would have created arguably the second best starting lineup in the league, Houston would have sacrificed depth or assets that could have hurt them in the future. With that being said, it’s time for Morey to revisit his other options.
Prior to the season, the Rockets were on the hunt for a wing to replace Trevor Ariza after signing a lucrative one year deal with the Phoenix Suns. Rumors were thrown around and left fans buzzing about which player would be the best fit. One name that many fans seemed to be on board with was Kent Bazemore.
According to a tweet drafted in early August by USA Today Rockets beat writer, Kelly Iko, the Atlanta Hawks were willing to send Bazemore to Houston for a contract like Ryan Anderson if it meant Houston would attach a draft pick and a young player.
Similarly, the Rockets have Brandon Knight who still has two years left on his contract who could be dealt in a possible trade along with other pieces.
Source: Atlanta would be open to taking Ryan Anderson’s remaining $41 million back, but would need draft pick + one of Houston’s young guys. A package of Anderson, Melton and a 2019 first might be enough to get a deal done, but Houston is high on Melton and his upside.
— Kelly Iko (@KellyIkoNBA) August 7, 2018
Next: The actual trade idea
Trade scenario idea
After playing around with NBA trade machine, here is a sample trade scenario that aligns with what the Hawks have requested for Bazemore:
- Chriss has been expendable for this team as he hasn’t logged any meaningful minutes for them so far in the season. He has one year left on his contract and will become a free agent.
- Knight, unlike Ryan Anderson who was previously the contract the Rockets were trying to get rid of, hasn’t played an NBA game since February 15, 2017. This is largely due to tearing his ACL that summer in the offseason. The Hawks could be reluctant on taking Knight in a trade; however, if Houston is able to get him back on the court playing meaningful minutes displaying he is 100% healthy, the Rockets shouldn’t face any hurdles unloading him in this kind of deal.
- Isaiah Hartenstein has been involved in this trade scenario due to the Hawks’ request of a young player being attached in the deal. While Houston loses depth in the Frontcourt with this move, they can replace his loss with a signing of a free agent such as Tarik Black or Mareese Speights who are playing overseas basketball.
- The last part of the deal would have to include a draft pick which is the primary purpose as to why Atlanta would deal Bazemore in the first place. A 2019 first rounder should do the trick.
Next: Who's left?
While it might seem like Houston is giving up quite a bit in this deal, they actually wouldn’t be losing anyone of significance in such a deal due to Houston’s set roster. Bazemore still has two years left on his contract so you are guaranteed another year of having the following major players on their roster:
- Ennis (player option, 2019 – 2020)
Bazemore could be the missing piece for this team if they want to fulfill their championship aspirations. In the grand scheme of things, the subtractions Houston is making are very minimal compared to who they are gaining.
His playmaking ability and two-way threat on the court is what Houston needs and making this trade happen earlier in the season could allow for adequate time for Bazemore to find his role with Houston.