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Houston Rockets: Are the recent trade target rumors worth it?

By Michael Knight
WASHINGTON, DC -  DECEMBER 16: Kentavious Caldwell-Pope #1 of the Los Angeles Lakers shoots the ball against the Washington Wizards on December 16, 2018 at Capital One Arena in Washington, DC. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2018 NBAE (Photo by Ned Dishman/NBAE via Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC -  DECEMBER 16: Kentavious Caldwell-Pope #1 of the Los Angeles Lakers shoots the ball against the Washington Wizards on December 16, 2018 at Capital One Arena in Washington, DC. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2018 NBAE (Photo by Ned Dishman/NBAE via Getty Images)
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The Houston Rockets have been involved in many trade rumors since the rough start to the season. Are the recent two players even worth going after for the team?

The Houston Rockets are in need of a bench piece that can help propel them back to their level of play from last season. Offensively, the team has improved drastically since the departure of Carmelo Anthony (first in Off. Rating in that time) but has remained among the league’s worst in defensive categories.

Despite the improved offense, the need for a 3-and-D player is apparent for the Rockets to fully get back on track. Because of that, they have been involved in many trade rumors for players that can help them get there.

Two of the most recent rumors as of the past couple of weeks are J.R. Smith and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope. While these trades may have been viable in years past, are they acceptable options this season?

Let’s take a look at each of the guys:

J.R. Smith

This season has been a mess for J.R. Smith and the Cleveland Cavaliers. He hasn’t gotten any sort of consistent minutes due to being a veteran on a young-centered team. Smith has publically demanded his way out, and the Rockets are rumored to be interested.

The Rockets have expressed exploratory interest in acquiring JR Smith, according to league sources. Smith is currently on hiatus from the Cavaliers as Cleveland seeks a new home for the veteran shooting guard via trade

— Marc Stein (@TheSteinLine) December 11, 2018

J.R. comes with quite a negative connotation. He made the worst play of last year’s NBA Finals, passing up a game-winning layup in a score-confused mess. Smith is an inconsistent player who doesn’t play the same level of defense as he once did in the league.

He’s also making, and I wish I was making this up, $14.7 million this year. Cleveland overpaid for J.R.’s services right before he declined heavily.

As far as shooting goes, though, you could get worse if you’re the Rockets. Smith is still a good 3-point shooter when he’s on. This season is a weird outlier to his career (albeit in around 20 minutes a game), but he has consistently shot fairly decently from downtown to the tune of a 37% career percentage.

The money and lack of defense are concerning, though, and the Rockets should try to stay away from J.R.

Kentavious Caldwell-Pope

KCP is a slightly different story. While he certainly has his flaws on and off the court, he could potentially be a decent fit in a role off the bench for the Rockets.

Caldwell-Pope is kinda the definition of a 3-and-D player in this league. While he once looked like he had the potential for more, he has somewhat settled into the role of a shooter and good defender.

This season has been a streaky and rough one for him so far on both ends of the court. He’s still shown the ability to play defense well, but occasionally has slip-ups. On offense, he’s averaging fewer points and shots attempted a game, partially due to the poor efficiency at 40.7% shooting. His 3-point shot has been average, though, at 36%.

Caldwell-Pope also has a fairly large contract for a role player at $12 million this season. Thankfully, he’s only on a one-year deal so he would be off the books next offseason if the Rockets made a move for him.

Next. Rockets resurgence cause for optimism

Should they trade for KCP? Maybe, but the off-the-court issues and inconsistency have cause for concern. Could he put it all together playing alongside playmakers Chris Paul and James Harden? We’ll see if the Houston Rockets go after him.

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