Looking at the West this year 6-8 are going to be the spots the Rockets play for. The teams fighting for those spots are in current order:
6. Hornets - If CP3 and West stay healthy I think they keep this spot
7. Nuggets - If they trade Melo, I think they lose their spot in the playoffs
8. Blazers - Still a solid team despite no B. Roy
9. Grizzlies - Houston's biggest threat for the eight spot
10. Rockets - If we stay healthy there is a chance
11. Suns - Things arent looking so sunny over there
Without a trade, i think there is a chance for the 8th spot. After the 1st week of February, the Rockets schedule looks a little bit more "normal". Looking at the schedules of Portland and Memphis the Rockets could make a late season push to steal the 8th seed from Memphis, only if the Nuggets break up their whole team.
If the Rockets trade for a good starting center, like NENE, I think they are in for sure, maybe as good as #7 or 6. The Nuggets say they are waiting to trade Melo first before dealing with the other teams that are inquiring about Nene and JR Smith (hope one team that's calling is the Rockets).
I would not mind a MELO rental if Nene was included as part of the deal. If Nene (or any other good big) isn't included I say NO RENTAL.