Tradewatch – Marc Stein (ESPN) gives this assessment of the Rockets at the deadline:
The consistent word out of Houston, incidentally, is that the Rockets — long known to be Smith fans — are far more likely to pursue J-Smoove in free agency than to try to trade for him this week.
The Rockets are expected to use their leftover salary-cap space from last summer to extract an extra draft pick from teams looking to shed salary for luxury-tax reasons right before the trade buzzer.
Meanwhile Bradford Doolittle (ESPN Insider) examines whether Josh Smith is a max player (conclusion: his 4-year WARP is around the levels of Pau, Manu, Nash, Pierce and Nowitzki, so maybe probably yeah) and also eyes some trade possibilities. How ’bout Houston?
On the court, no team in the league would be a better fit for Smith. Can you imagine his elite athleticism fitting into an offensive lineup alongside James Harden, Jeremy Lin and Chandler Parsons, not to mention a defensive lineup with Smith backed up by Omer Asik’s elite rim protection?
In today’s episode, I break down some of the possibilities for the Rockets at the trade deadline and the expected rationale behind those moves.
Click to download.
Tradewatch – The bidding war for Josh Smith is about to get real:
In his PER Diem (ESPN Insider), Kevin Pelton summed up the position the Rockets are in:
Several of the seven teams noted above must be very careful to weigh the desire to reach the playoffs and make an impact this season against their long-term goals. That’s especially true of young teams like the Rockets and Blazers, which don’t want to sacrifice their future for a small upgrade now. So if they make a trade, it will have to be something that also makes sense going forward.
In other words, they’re looking at draft picks, expiring contracts or a star. Also, if you missed Rahat’s post on why the Rockets might pursue Josh Smith right now, go get caught up.
Since the season’s start, I’ve maintained that at the trade deadline, the Rockets should stay away from Hawks forward Josh Smith. I never thought he was worth the money he wanted long-term nor worth the cost of saving money for better opportunities. I thought though that even if they did want him, they’d be wise to just sign him outright in the summer rather than spending assets during the year. The thinking was, in my mind, if Houston wanted him as a free agent, he’d surely come.
With some recent developments, my thinking has changed. As I wrote earlier this morning, there now seems to at least be a plausible chance for the Rockets to lure Dwight Howard this summer. The Lakers are in a freefall and Howard has voiced his displeasure; meanwhile Houston continues its ascent.