The Houston Rockets are looking to continue to make moves to improve the team. One free agent that can help that is a guy that they acquired at the deadline last season.
The Houston Rockets hold the Bird’s rights to Iman Shumpert, who is still a free agent. It seems like his market may have dried up after his play with the Rockets. Shumpert, who is a former NBA Champion, started the season off really well for the Sacramento Kings. He averaged 12.3 points per 36 minutes and shot 36.6% from deep in 42 games for Sacramento.
What he also brings to the table is good defense, which he was able to rely on for the Rockets despite seeing his 3-point shooting take quite a dip. However, in the Western Conference Semi-Finals against the Golden State Warriors, he shot 37% from three.
It seems clear that Shumpert can be a 3 and D wing in a league in which those are heavily valued. So where exactly is his market? One of the challenges Shumpert will face is the fact that he’s not necessarily a young asset. For instance, if the Memphis Grizzlies wanted a young asset in an Andre Iguodala trade, Shumpert wouldn’t fit that bill at age 29 and entering his ninth season. This could possibly be the reason the Grizzlies weren’t included as a third team in the Russell Westbrook trade. The Rockets likely wanted to include Shumpert in a sign-and-trade deal which would have had Shumpert making somewhere in the 8-12 million dollar range. Did the Grizzlies want Shumpert to be on their payroll while they were rebuilding?
Shumpert actually played really well with Sacramento on a young team seeking to rebuild, which is a similar situation to what the Grizzlies are in. He’s an 8-year vet who has played alongside greats such as LeBron James and James Harden and won an NBA title. He actually shot 38% in the post-season in which the Cavaliers won the NBA Finals.
Furthermore, he shoots 37.6% from deep in the playoffs for his career. It’s easy to see why and how he would be a great locker room player on a young team who is rebuilding and trying to learn how to get to the next level. He can still defend and shoot the three and also seems to be great off the court. But again, what’s next for the Rockets if the Grizzlies won’t take on a deal including Shumpert?
Fit in Houston?
Shumpert wouldn’t necessarily fit in with Houston as they are contending and essentially capped out. It would seem like if he were open to playing on a minimum deal, he would have surely had suitors by now, including the Rockets. Furthermore, he was just making 11 million last year, so are we sure he would want to go from playing on that to playing on the minimum? That may be a problem he is facing as not many teams have much cap room left to pay Shumpert.
So who else can the Rockets send Shumpert to? They could possibly send him to Minnesota for Robert Covington, who is set to make 11.3 million this upcoming season. It would seem like on a sign-and-trade, Shumpert’s new contract would likely be in that same ballpark. In this case, a deal would work as the salaries would possibly match.
Also, Covington is coming off an injury so maybe Minnesota agrees to that trade. I would think they would want a first-round pick as Covington certainly brings more to the table than Shumpert. Minnesota is also in a similar situation in my opinion as the Sacramento Kings Shumpert played on, in that they aren’t going to be a playoff team, and they have young stars in Karl Anthony-Towns and Andrew Wiggins.
Shumpert would have a role on the team as the veteran and elder statesman with championship experience. However, this would be a beneficial move for the Rockets as Covington is 28 with 3 years left on his contract. For Minnesota, this could help them also because if Shumpert signs on a one year deal or even a 2 year deal with a team option, then it becomes an expiring deal for the Timberwolves and Shumpert’s contract is off the books.
By comparison, the Rockets other desired target, Andre Iguodala, is 35 years old and on an expiring deal. But either way, it seems like if Memphis wanted Shumpert, they would have already had him by now.
Hopefully, we can get an answer soon, but this seems like it could get very tricky!