NBA Trade Season has unofficially begun. What are the Rockets going to be up to?
December 15th has come and past. Teams are starting to see where they stand and players are becoming available on the trade market. Today, in the theme of SBNation's NBA Trade Season Kickoff, we're going to look at where the Rockets stand and what they might do, with a nice video of me at the end accompanying the post.
Buyer or Seller?
In your binary world, Daryl Morey says neither. If there is a move to be made that makes the Rockets better for next year, he will do it. In the simplest sense, that makes Morey sound like a seller, but doing that ignores Daryl Morey's philosophy completely.
At this point, the vast majority of Morey's moves center around having the best chance at acquiring a second superstar to play with James Harden. If that means going after a young star under contract, that would be ideal, but it could also mean moving a piece that doesn't figure into the Rockets' plans but would take up cap space for next summer.
In that sense, the Rockets are neither buyers nor sellers. If Morey thinks he can get good value on a deal that will help the Rockets moving forward, he'll do it. And if a GM doesn't agree with him, he'll just put on the Jedi mind tricks.
On a team that is rife with young talent and flexibility, the only real needs are another All-Star and perhaps draft picks. In the James Harden trade, the team gave up its excess draft picks and already owes this year's first rounder (lottery protected) to Atlanta, a pick they originally traded away for Terrence Williams.
Daryl Morey has always said that the two best values in the NBA are max contracts and rookie scale deals, because those are the two times where players are limited from getting their full value on the open market. With that in mind, it would make sense for the Rockets to look to acquire either a star player or a draft pick. The draft pick really depends on which teams are interested in the Rockets assets, but figuring out which star player the Rockets could go after is easier to figure out.
Unfortunately, given the turnover in star players over the last few years, there really aren't very many All-Star caliber players in an unstable environment. As I mentioned earlier, LaMarcus Aldridge makes a lot of sense to add as a potential centerpiece in the middle that is still young enough to be part of a long term core. I'm inclined to believe the Kevin Love unhappiness tale is overblown, but if he ever becomes available, Daryl Morey might have a heart attack from excitement.
Finally, one name you wouldn't expect to see comes up: Andrew Bynum. He's a star caliber center when healthy, and Morey has never been afraid of taking risks with injuries. A healthy Bynum alongside Harden would make for an intimidating duo to start a roster with.
As a general rule, if you see your name on this page, you're available. There are a few players however, that stick out more than most.
1) Carlos Delfino
He's a sharpshooter with no conscience off the bench, and he's scored at a pretty decent rate. As the season progresses and a number of contenders are searching for wings that can shoot and defend (the defending part is debatable in Delfino's case), Delfino's name will undoubtedly come up. With his age and contract status (non-guaranteed for 2013-14), Delfino doesn't have much value to the Rockets moving forward. Look for a contender to snatch him up for a 2nd rounder in February.
2) Toney Douglas
Since the Knicks are essentially paying Douglas' salary this year, it's pretty safe to say that not many people expected Douglas to do much with the Rockets. Somehow, he's managed to beat the odds, and has been a pretty darn good backup point guard to Jeremy Lin.
However, with Douglas' contract up at the end of the season and talented point guard Scott Machado in the D-League honing his craft, the writing is on the wall for Douglas. As with Delfino, nobody would be shocked to see Douglas go to a contender in January or February.
3) Daequan Cook
He's awful. The Rockets don't need awful players. Maybe Daryl Morey can convince a team that he's not awful. Maybe not. But he's definitely available.
Three Trade Ideas
1) The Wet Dream Edition
Portland Receives: Chandler Parsons, Terrence Jones, Donatas Motiejunas, Cole Aldrich
Houston Receives: LaMarcus Aldridge
In order to get an All-Star, you have to give up a blue chip prospect. In the Rockets case, the team was forced to give up Jeremy Lamb and the Toronto first rounder, two assets that figured prominently in their future, in order to acquire James Harden.
In this case, the Rockets trade away Chandler Parsons, the emerging 6'9" small forward who has upped his scoring to match his top flight defense this season, an especially attractive player with his 3 years and less than $3 million remaining on his contract.
Additionally, they give up a pair of talented big men, Motiejunas and Jones, who both seemed poised to be rotation bigs for a long time.
It seems like a lot to give up, but the value in acquiring Aldridge is huge. He's under contract for the next three years, and a core of him, Lin, Harden, and Asik (all 27 or younger) could do serious damage in the West while still having room for improvement.
The only problem would be convincing Portland to do this deal. They've had a rough few years, but could be committed to the core of Aldridge, Batum, and Lillard. Barring a complete collapse, it's unlikely Aldridge becomes available.
2) Reality Hits Hard
Indiana Pacers receive: Carlos Delfino
Houston Rockets receive: Ben Hansbrough, Jeff Pendergraph, 2013 2nd round pick from Indiana, right to swap 1st round picks in next available year
In the lead up to this year, many predicted that Indiana would be one of the top teams in the East. Unfortunately, with Danny Granger's injury and Roy Hibbert's regression, this potential hasn't been realized.
With a weak wing rotation, Indiana makes this move in order to get some scoring from the bench and get some veteran leadership.
The Rockets, as was previously mentioned, don't really have much use for Delfino after this year and gladly toss Delfino Indiana's way.
3) Crazy Stupid Love
Philadelphia 76ers receive: Omer Asik, Terrence Jones, Greg Smith
Houston Rockets receive: Andrew Bynum
Yes, I had some fun with this one. In this scenario, the 76ers cut their losses with Bynum and move onto a new era where Kwame Brown and Spencer Hawes are not needed on the court at any time.
The 76ers put themselves out there when they acquired Bynum, but with Bynum not being in the lineup until God knows when, can they afford to just hope for the best? In this package, the 76ers get a top ten center and a pair of intriguing young pieces, both of whom can help now and in the future. It may not be enough, but it would definitely tempt them.
For the Rockets, the motivations are clear. Take a risk, and if it pays off, you have a 25 year old All-Star under contract for the next 5 years. Lin, Harden, Parsons, and Bynum could do some serious damage.
Finally, check out the video companion to this post, featuring yours truly.
Dream Shake Trade Season (via Patrick Harrel)
What say you? Are my ideas as crazy as Andrew Bynum's hair? Give us your best trade ideas in the comments!