10 players the Rockets can add through trade exceptions

Mo Bamba #5 of the Orlando Magic (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
Mo Bamba #5 of the Orlando Magic (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images) /
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Houston Rockets
T.J. McConnell #9 of the Indiana Pacers (Photo by Michael Hickey/Getty Images) /

Houston Rockets trade target #1: T.J. McConnell

The Indiana Pacers and the Houston Rockets have undergone similar changes as a franchise in 2020-21, as both teams changed coaches prior to the start of the season, with the Rockets having hired Stephen Silas to replace Mike D’Antoni, while the Pacers fired former coach Nate McMillan and replaced him with Nate Bjorkgren. In addition, both teams have dealt their franchise players, as Indy sent Victor Oladipo to Houston in the James Harden trade.

The Pacers acquired Caris LeVert in the Harden deal, but he’s been unable to make his debut, due to a mass that was detected on his organ, which led to LeVert being diagnosed with kidney cancer. With the Pacers having landed their point guard of the future, it would be wise for them to consider getting rid of reserve guard T.J. McConnell, who is on an expiring deal and will become an unrestricted free agent after this season.

The 28-year-old guard is averaging 8.2 points, 10.5 assists, 5.5 rebounds, and 2.6 steals per 36 minutes and is shooting 35.7 percent from deep this season. McConnell has especially flashed his ability to create scoring opportunities for others of late, as he recently had consecutive games with 12 assists and 15 assists, despite coming off the bench in both games, which was a rare and historical feat.

T.J. McConnell is the first bench player with 15 Ast in under 30 minutes of playing time since Manu Ginóbili did it on March 1, 2013.

Other than Ginóbili, the last player to do this was John Lucas in 1988. pic.twitter.com/wcnNYtYqv0

— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) February 6, 2021

McConnell’s historical night from the Pacers’ recent game against the New Orleans Pelicans didn’t just stop there, as he became the only player in the last 25 years to assist on as many points and threes off the bench as he did during the contest.

T.J. McConnell had 15 assists off the bench on Friday.

His 41 points assisted on and 11 threes assisted on are each the most by a player coming off the bench in the last 25 seasons. McConnell has 27 assists in his last 2 games for the Pacers, both off the bench

H/T @EliasSports pic.twitter.com/Y6DN6teOQ7

— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) February 6, 2021

McConnell is making $3.5 million this season, meaning the Rockets wouldn’t need to use the Harden exception to acquire him, and such a move would be wise on their part, as it would give them further flexibility on whether they would want to keep him after the season or simply let him hit free agency at the end of the season.

Next. 3 trades that would send John Collins to the Rockets