There's been no shortage of trade rumors heating up around the Rockets in recent weeks. As the team continues to slog along at a .500 pace (and sometimes below), no player is totally untouchable except for James Harden.
While Dwight Howard and Ty Lawson have both dominated the trade talk these last few days, now two other names have popped up as likely to be shipped out of Houston.
Both Corey Brewer and Terrence Jones are said be part of "serious" trade discussions with the Phoenix Suns for mercurial forward Markieff Morris, as reported by ESPN's Mark Stein (and linked to earlier in today's Rocket Fuel). The usually reliable Stein says:
"As ESPN.com reported December 6th, Houston has serious interest in the Phoenix Sun's very available Markieff Morris.
"And a Rockets offer of Corey Brewer and Terrence Jones has not only been seriously discussed, but the teams could get that deal done."
It's long been speculated that the Rockets might look to move Jones, who's slated for a huge raise next season with the cap jump, while not quite living up to his potential in Houston. The Rockets aren't likely to pay what Jones will be looking for in the offseason, so it does make sense to get something for him now.
And Corey Brewer, despite playing better of late, has been one of the most disappointing Rockets players to this point in the season. If Morey can get something useful back while at the same time ridding himself of Brewer's offseason extension that's looked more like a mistake every day, that's a win for the Rockets GM.
But what about that piece they'd be getting back?
Our own Danny Emerman took a look at Morris a few weeks ago and why the Rockets shouldn't trade for him, and the reasons are many why he doesn't seem like a fit, but it's obvious GM Daryl Morey sees something he likes, as Morris' name just keeps on popping up.
Despite not shooting great from deep (just 32.8 percent for his career), Morris does have a more polished overall offensive game than Jones that can help space the floor in the Rockets' system, and his 6'10" height would add some much-needed bench size to the Houston front court.
Morey is likely also looking at Morris' contract.
While not an appreciably better player than Jones, at $8 million per year through 2019, Morris is likely a better bargain than Jones, who's almost certain to command more than that on the open market next season. Morey would be replacing Jones with a similar player in Morris who comes cheaper in the long term once the free agent market explodes.
Morris has been on the block (and playing very little) in Phoenix for a few weeks now, so with seemingly mutual interest from both parties, why hasn't a trade gotten done? According to Stein:
"The problem is: Brewer isn't quite ready to be dealt yet. Because the Rockets resigned Brewer to a salary ($8.2 million) that exceeds his prior salary ($4.7 million) by more than 20 percent, and because Houston is over the salary cap, Houston can't deal the veteran swingman until January 15th instead of December 15th."
There is some speculation that a deal for Morris is already in place, and the Rockets and Suns are simply waiting until January 15th to consummate their arrangement. And though Morris did recently return to the Suns rotation, it doesn't mean a deal is off since we're almost another month away from when the teams can officially pull the trigger.
If true, it's hard to tell if this deal would make the Rockets a better team overall- exchanging underachieving players is a pretty big crap shoot, there's a myriad of ways it could turn out- but the consistent talk is just more proof that the Rockets are certainly looking to wheel and deal as we move into the new year and closer to the trade deadline in February.