Two weeks back, we speculated if there was a major trade in the works for these struggling Houston Rockets. GM Daryl Morey pledged that changes will be made until the team starts to win again, and save a brief 2-game win streak that ended with a giant dud last night in Detroit, the Rockets are continuing to lose.
It comes as no real surprise then that rumors have begun to fly that the Rockets may be looking to move slumping point guard Ty Lawson. According to Basketball Insider:
"The Rockets have been sniffing around the league for deals, and there is belief among other teams that Lawson could be had in trade, and cheaply. Lawson is owed $12.4 million this season, with the final $13.21 million of his deal being non-guaranteed.
"As the Rockets search for ways to change, there is a belief that Lawson could be the first Rocket player moved."
Despite showing meager signs of life in last night's loss to the Pistons (11 points and 3-3 shooting from deep), Lawson is smack dab in the middle of his worst and most disappointing season as a pro, so it's difficult to ascertain the type of talent the Rockets would be able to reel in off the trading wharf with Lawson as their only live bait.
However, some point-guard needy team could easily look at Lawson's talent level, career numbers, and the current quagmire in H-town and figure he's a prime candidate to rebound if placed into a different environment and around better compliments to his skill set. And $12.4 million could bring back a decent player in return.
If the Rockets wanted to up the ante, which might not be a bad idea if things continue on the same trajectory, they could package a secondary player with Lawson and his mid-range salary and really shake things up on a team that seems to be asking for exactly that.
They have no answers, as just last night, after the team's disheartening loss in Detroit, James Harden was asked why the Rockets have seemed to lack energy in so many games this year, and he responded with simply:
"That's a good question."
Coach J.B Bickerstaff, though, believes it's just a matter of time, saying:
"We play a certain style of basketball that we believe works. It's worked for us in the past. We'll continue to play that way. We'll continue to be aggressive getting to the paint, getting to the rim. We've just got to be stronger in our finishes, and things will change for us."
If the Rockets can't get it turned around, the next step is undoubtedly roster changes. And though Basketball Insider has certainly been known to be wrong before (some rumors come to pass, some don't), don't be surprised if the Rockets are indeed shopping Lawson. It makes sense.
What they could possibly get in return depends on the desperation of other teams (an injury perhaps?) and how creative Daryl Morey can get with his player package (expiring contracts of Terrence Jones and/or Donatas Motiejunas, anyone). Remember, the Rockets can't take on salary, so any trade either must make the numbers match or end up as a salary dump.
If it's a salary dump, the Rockets have much larger problems on their hands, as the slippery slope of calling it quits before the playoffs in this season likely ends in a Dwight Howard opt-out and subsequent roster rebuild.
If the Rockets do move Lawson, either alone or with other player assets, we can only hope it's early enough to salvage something from a season that appears to be fast slipping away.