Although the Houston Rockets’ ability to add additional players has been significantly compromised due to a lack of cap space, the Rockets still hold several trade exceptions which could also be used to acquire depth. Here are seven players the Rockets could land through their many trade exceptions.
It’s no secret that the Houston Rockets lack depth, which is evident by the fact that James Harden is playing his most minutes since the 2015-16 season and PJ Tucker is playing a career-high in minutes this season. On top of that, Russell Westbrook is also playing the third-most minutes of his twelve-year career, which is only further proof of the Rockets’ need for more contributors.
According to Kelly Iko of The Athletic, the Houston Rockets recently decided to abandon the Robert Covington pursuit, which is yet another sign of the Rockets’ lack of depth, because you’d have to think they wouldn’t be bowing out if they had the necessary assets. So how exactly will the Rockets be able to acquire more depth without having the necessary cap space and/or assets to add players? The answer may be easier than you’d imagine: through trade exceptions.
The Houston Rockets have six trade exceptions which they acquired from trading Carmelo Anthony, Marquese Chriss, Brandon Knight, James Ennis, Nik Stauskas, and Wade Baldwin. The Rockets’ trade exceptions range from $1.5 million to $3.6 million in incoming salary as well, which gives the Rockets plenty of options.
There are several rules the Collective Bargaining Agreement places on trade exceptions, including the fact that a team can only use one at a time, as opposed to combining multiple exceptions to increase the amount of salary a team can bring in.
On top of that, the Rockets will have to make a decision fairly quickly on whether they want to use these exceptions, as they’ve got an expiration date of January 22nd to use this avenue on their Carmelo Anthony exception and a February 6th end date for the Marquese Chriss and Brandon Knight trade exceptions. In a similar fashion, the Rockets have until Feb. 7 to utilize the exceptions from the Nik Stauskas and Wade Baldwin trades.
One of the challenges for the Rockets is that they’ve been hell-bent on dodging the luxury tax, which would essentially eliminate the ability to use any of their available exceptions. Assuming the Rockets do in fact decide to spend the necessary funds to compile a championship roster, they’d be able to reel in multiple players. Let’s take a look at seven possible options for the Rockets.