The 2023-24 Houston Rockets have been significantly better than expected, as they've had the look of a playoff team. In fact, the Rockets would be in the play-in tournament if it started today, as they currently sit seventh in the Western Conference with a 13-9 record.
The Rockets' free agent spending spree has been nearly perfect, as Dillon Brooks has been a key ingredient in the Rockets' second-ranked defense. Brooks has also unleashed an entirely different mode of scoring ability, which was on display in the Rockets' latest 103-96 victory over the Memphis Grizzlies (26 points and the game-clenching backet).
Fred VanVleet has been one of the league's best facilitators, as his 8.5 assists rank fifth in the association, and he's made clutch shots and free throws all season. Aaron Holiday has been one of the most underrated pickups across the league (much to the surprise of yours truly), as he's helped offset the absence of Amen Thompson this season.
But for as great of a pickup Holiday has been, Jock Landale has been equally as awful- 35.7 percent shooting, 20 percent from long-range, 44.4 percent on two-pointers, 43.7 percent true shooting, the latter of which is a team-low.
This has been mitigated by the resurrection of Jeff Green, who has seemingly took a dip in the hot tub time machine, which shouldn't be expected to continue throughout the season. In other words, the Rockets need a reserve big (which becomes incredibly evident when Alperen Sengun gets in foul trouble).
Grizzlies give Rockets solution to the Jock Landale problem.
The Memphis Grizzlies may have just solved this problem for Rockets GM Rafael Stone, with the release of Kenneth Lofton Jr., as the Grizzlies needed to create a roster spot for Ja Morant, who is eligible to return from a 25-game suspension on Tuesday.
Granted, Lofton didn't get much playing time with the Grizzlies this season (7.3 minutes in 2023-24), which was questionable after he averaged 20.2 points, 10.5 rebounds, and 3.9 assists in the G-League in 2022-23 and 25.1 points, 9.6 rebounds, and 3.2 assists in the G-League Showcase.
Lofton's efforts earned him G-League Rookie of the Year.
Lofton won't help much on the defensive end, but offensively, he's a low-post scorer, which has become a thing of the past in today's league, as most bigs shoot an avalanche of threes. At 6-foot-6 and 275 pounds, Lofton is a bully in the post, which would be a welcome addition on the second unit for the Rockets.
And considering his age (21-years-old) and potential, this would be a low-risk, high-reward move. Remember, it can't get any worse than Landale.