With nearly a quarter of the 2014-15 NBA season already in the books, it is time to fire up the good ol' ESPN Trade Machine. Daryl Morey always has a trade in mind and can seemingly pull off anything (Exhibit A: The James Harden Trade).
The Rockets believe that with James Harden and Dwight Howard, they can win a championship with the right pieces surrounding the superstars. The weakest spot for Houston is frontcourt depth.
There are many minor trades the Rockets can make to improve their point guard situation, so this post will be focussed on the sexier potential trades involving incoming "big men."
Here are some relatively realistic trades that Morey can possibly pull off before the trade deadline in late February.
Potential Trade #1:
In this trade, the Rockets would send Jason Terry, Terrence Jones, and possibly a 2014 second round pick to the Pelicans for small-ball four, Ryan Anderson. Anderson is having a terrific season, averaging over 16 points per game while shooting above 40 percent from downtown.
Anderson is a stretch four that can rebound, and he has proven to be a perfect fit with Dwight Howard. Howard and Anderson made up the Orlando Magic frontcourt from 2009 to 2012. The Magic played a 1 in 4 out-style offense that relied on Dwight in the middle and shooters on the perimeter. The Rockets could easily replicate that with Anderson on the roster.
The Rockets would be giving up a valuable asset in Terrence Jones, the third-year power forward out of Kentucky. They would also lose Jason Terry, who is now the NBA equivalent of a nomad. Jones is a promising young player, but his lack of size and general inconsistency make him well worth Ryan Anderson.
This trade would reunite Terrence Jones and Anthony Davis, who played together at Kentucky in 2012 as well as the Anderson/Howard duo from their Magic days.
As the standings currently are, with the Pelicans in playoff contention, New Orleans would never pull the trigger on this trade. However, if one of their stars (God forbid) were injured, then they could possibly accept this trade in panic in an attempt to stockpile assets.
Potential Trade #2:
Unfortunately, the Trade Machine is unable to include draft picks, but that is what is really happening in this transaction. The Rockets would trade their 2014 first round pick for Wilson Chandler of the Denver Nuggets.
Although Chandler's name has been connected to the Los Angeles Clippers because of L.A.'s desperate need of a capable small forward, the Rockets simply have more to offer than the Clippers, who do not own a 2014 first round pick. The Clippers would likely offer shooting guard Reggie Bullock for Chandler, but a first round pick is definitely more valuable than Bullock.
Wilson Chandler would be a terrific fit in Houston because he can shoot threes and play solid perimeter defense. He could also play small-ball four if need be. Chandler would probably come off the bench for Houston, but could play starters minutes.
With Chandler, Kevin McHale would have the right pieces to experiment with cool, fast lineups that could have Harden playing PG with Ariza, Chandler, Howard, and either Papanikelou or Jones at the PF spot.
The Nuggets, who are not quite in all-out tanking mode, will likely try to move some of their pieces for assets as the season progresses. If they go in the tank, Denver would be glad to exchange Chandler for a draft pick. Another asset like Donatas Montejunas may have to be included in this trade.
Potential Trade #3:
The Hornets believe that they can make the playoffs in the weak Eastern Conference. However, their 4-8 record to start the season disagrees.
Cody Zeller is a young, solid talent at the center position, but he doesn't play many minutes in Charlotte behind Al Jefferson. The Hornets desperately need a perimeter shooter to go with their team that consists of virtually no outside threats. At 38 percent from downtown in his career, The Jet would fulfill their needs with his spot up shooting.
Zeller would add frontcourt depth to the Rockets' shallow bench. Zeller would play meaningful minutes as a reliable backup to Dwight Howard.
The Rockets would also have to include a future draft pick -- likely a first-rounder -- to make the trade fair in the long term.
Potential Trade #4:
In addition to Jason Terry and Papanikolaou, the Rockets would send future draft picks to Boston. Although Papanikolaou is a better-than-expected prospect, the Celtics are practically receiving nothing for Jeff Green, a proven scorer.
Boston got rid of Terry three years ago and I doubt they would want him back, but maybe he could be used to mentor their glut of young guards. If the Celtics don't want him, this is the perfect spot to use the Rockets' traded player exception they received in the Jeremy Lin deal. (UPDATE: According to @dangercart on Twitter, the Rockets can't use their TPE on Green because it can't be included in a deal with another player. I hate you so much, CBA -Ed.)
In the short term, the Rockets would improve because of Jeff Green's shooting ability and versatility. Green has flourished in his role as small ball four with Boston, so he would be a fantastic match with Dwight Howard in the frontcourt. Green may not start over Terrence Jones, but he would be in the closing, optimal lineup against teams without a dominant power forward.
Potential Trade #5:
Mozgov, a solid center, is on a team with plenty of big man depth in the Denver Nuggets. For two second round draft picks, the Rockets could easily upgrade the center spot behind Superman.
The Nuggets are struggling for wins in the loaded Western Conference and it won't be long before they try to trade away their players for assets like draft picks.
This is the most realistic trade, but the least sexy...