The Red94 2017 Houston Rockets Trade Deadline Diary – Part 2

  • Check out Part 1 if you have time to kill where I discuss everything from Pat Beverley’s role on the team to my evolving appraisal of Clint Capela.  When I started writing, Corey Brewer was still a Rocket.
  • I’ve been racking my brain all afternoon in attempts to discern who the Rockets could be targeting in light of the news they hoped to acquire a player in the $10million to $12million range.  The natural conclusion would direct one towards the list of available bigs but all seem woefully underwhelming in some respect or are otherwise unobtainable.  Is Taj Gibson still effective?  Can we stomach the remaining years on Kenneth Faried’s contract?  (He’s basically Montrezl Harrell).  And how dirty are you willing to feel to win?  Andrew Bogut would fit an obvious need, not just for his physicality and passing ability, but with the added chip on his shoulder from being dumped by Golden State.  But could you, dear reader, fan of this team, stomach the addition of someone so hated?  I really don’t think I could.  Honestly, I just don’t.  I may have said the same thing about Jason Terry, I can’t remember, before he went on to become one of the most instrumental influences on the 2015 team, but Terry was just annoying.  I don’t think he was ever hated.  Nerlens Noel and Jahlil Okafor both carry intrigue, for different reasons, but Philadelphia would purporetedly have no interest in a reunion with Houston’s primary asset, K.J. McDaniels.  This goes without mentioning my doubts Houston would be eager to re-sign Noel this summer at his likely asking price…unless they’ve turned the page on Capela.
  • Adding another wing like P.J. Tucker or Wilson Chandler would carry obvious benefits, especially if loading up for a rematch with the Warriors.  Maybe Morey and D’Antoni have determined they can only live small, and need, rather than a true big man off the bench, another versatile wing defender who can slide up one slot.  For instance, a trade for Chandler puts the rotation at Harden, Beverley, Capela, Ariza, Anderson, Gordon, Williams, Chandler, Dekker, Harrell, and Nene with those first eight getting the bulk of the minutes in the postseason.  Maybe you go ultra-small, experimenting with bench units featuring Chandler and Dekker as the 4/5?  The problem, however, is that I don’t know that Houston has enough assets remaining to entice the Nuggets into a deal.  Tucker is another story.
  • Update at 6:48 A.M. at 2/23 – I went to bed expecting to wake up to news, but there’s only crickets.  So I’ve killed the last half hour perusing hoopshype’s league-wide player salaries page in search of possibilities.  (If you go that route, don’t scroll up on the page too fast or you end up stuck on a Nascar page with no hopes of return).  The most striking thing upon perusal is the number of grotesquely offensive contracts remaining in the league.  Many of these are legacy payments, like Derrick Rose, Carmelo Anthony, Chris Bosh, and Dwyane Wade.  Some of these are just bad – Chandler Parsons, Joakim Noah.  You don’t finally crack the magical $12million mark until the 73rd highest paid player in the league, J.R. Smith.  Can you believe J.R. Smith is making more than Eric Gordon?
  • Several of you asked me about Brook Lopez who, aside from earning a salary too high to receive back in trade ($21million), is basically a dinosaur who wouldn’t fit in with this group.  Sure, he’s possibly the best post-up center in the league, and one might argue he could anchor the second unit when Harden sits, but there’s no evidence D’Antoni has any interest in playing this way, especially when he now has both Eric Gordon and Lou Williams to provide said anchoring of said second unit.  In D’Antoni’s mind, just running something else with other good players is a better option than the TNT conventional wisdom of “dumping it in when you need something”, and rightfully so.  This is not to mention that Lopez’s 5 rebounds per game will not be helping the team on the boards.  If the Rockets are to make a trade for a big man–and that is highly in question–I can almost assure you it will not be for that player’s post-up ability.
  • Amir Johnson at $12million on an expiring contract is a player for whom I know someone very well-placed within the Rockets organization has had a very public affinity prior to his hiring by the team.
  • The Jazz are reportedly shopping Derrick Favors who has another year left beyond this season’s $11million.  Speaking of Capela not taking the next step, check out Favors’ decline in production this season from last, now at age 25.  He probably is what he is at this point in time.
  • Austin Rivers makes almost as much as Kyle Lowry and Stephen Curry.
  • Going down the list, as I said last night, Andrew Bogut just seems to make the most overall sense from every perspective, ranging from fit to need to contract.  He fills an obvious need inside and doesn’t hamstring the team long-term.  But man, if they made such a move, it would take some kind of mental gymnastics to get myself to root for him.
  • The Rockets are reportedly content with their big man rotation, but if they trade for a wing, someone is the odd man out.  For instance, as I discussed last night, even if playing someone like a Wilson Chandler as a smallball ‘4’, that eats up Dekker’s minutes as Dekker is essentially the current backup ‘4’.  Does that mean they’d be looking to ship out Dekker?
  • As a reader pointed out, one angle might be pursuing a young player set to hit free agency to whom his current team is fearful of commitment.  This would be a good avenue to add another piece to the core, especially with the team not set up to have significant cap space in the summer.  As I’ve said all year, I do expect the Rockets to attempt to operate above the cap this summer, and one indication of that was their willingness to match on Motiejunas.  Had they been able to retain him, it would have eaten into their expected space.  Their preferred course in that situation possibly provides a glimpse into their future planning.

About the author: Rahat Huq is a lawyer in real life and the founder and editor-in-chief of Red94.net.

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The Red94 2017 Houston Rockets Trade Deadline Diary

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