Latest NBA injury news creates win-win trade opportunity for Rockets

Memphis Grizzlies v Oklahoma City Thunder
Memphis Grizzlies v Oklahoma City Thunder / Ian Maule/GettyImages

The Houston Rockets find themselves in a conundrum, as they have to trim their roster down to 15 players before Monday- the league's mandated cutdown date. The Rockets have 16 players in total and had strong contributions throughout the preseason from just about everyone on the roster.

In other words, it won't be easy figuring out who to part with.

However, it just became a bit easier, in light of the unfortunate injury news to Memphis Grizzlies center Steven Adams, who is out for the season due to a knee injury. This leaves the Grizzlies with a huge hole at center, thus creating the need for an obvious replacement. 

Enter Jeremiah Robinson-Earl, who the Rockets acquired from the Oklahoma City Thunder last week in the deal that ended the Kevin Porter Jr. experiment in Houston. Sure, JRE isn't exactly a perfect fill-in for Adams but he'd provide value for the Grizzlies at the nominal price of a second-round pick. 

Steven Adams' season-ending injury creates an opportunity for the Rockets to trade Jeremiah Robinson-Earl.

Robinson-Earl was viewed by many as a potential first-round pick in the 2021 NBA Draft and was a steal by the Oklahoma City Thunder in the second-round. At 6-foot-8, JRE displayed the potential to operate as a small-ball center or power forward, which would be a huge value add for a Grizzlies team that is now without Brandon Clarke and Adams.

JRE provides floor spacing, as his 3-point shot can stretch the floor. As a rookie, the 22-year-old made 35.2 percent of his threes on 3.4 attempts.

In his second season, JRE made 33.3 percent of his triples on 2.6 attempts. And that's a bit skewed, due to an injury he suffered last season, as he was shooting 38 percent from deep on 2.8 attempts prior to the injury, followed by 22.8 percent in the 17 games after returning (8-of-35 on 2 attempts).

So we know he can provide shooting, which would be a welcome addition to a Grizzlies team that ranked 23rd in 3-point shooting percentage in 2022-23. 

JRE is a switchable defender, due to his size and athleticism, which is essentially his biggest value add. JRE has a fairly high defensive IQ, which is how he's managed to make up for his lack of size on that end.

Grizzlies coach Taylor Jenkins is a defensive specialist, as evidenced by the Grizzlies' ranks in defensive efficiency over the last four seasons:

-2020-21: 6th in defensive rating
-2021-22: 4th in defensive rating
-2022-23: 2nd in defensive rating

Perhaps the biggest ingredient that Adams has provided Memphis is his rebounding ability, as he's averaged 10.6 rebounds per contest and 4.8 offensive rebounds during his stint with the Grizzlies. JRE can provide similar production, as he averaged 9.1 rebounds and 2.5 offensive rebounds per 36 minutes as a rookie, followed by 8 rebounds and 3.1 offensive boards last season.

The Grizzlies would be wise to make the call to Rockets GM Rafael Stone and get the trade done for Robinson-Earl.