When a friend texted me about this trade I was a bit dumbfounded. It seemed like a painful way to get off the Anderson deal. Brandon Knight largely hasn’t been seen in two years. Marquese Chriss is considered a disappointment. I really liked Melton, and hey, Ryan Anderson can at least contribute something, right? If only a positive attitude and being a great guy.
Knight’s contract, while less than Anderson’s, isn’t small.
Then I started thinking about it. I applied my usual rubric - assume the Rockets are smart. Assume they thought a great deal about this trade, and liked something about it. In fact, let’s stipulate that Morey and company aren’t fools. That seems hard for most of the NBA Commentariat, but it should be easy for Rockets fans, as we’ve seen the results.
So let’s walk through this trade, the moving parts, and see where we end up.
- Ryan Anderson- not really seen in the playoffs, not seen a great deal in the regular season. When he was seen against GSW it was, ah, sub-optimal. His deal is bad, and was the day he signed it. I originally thought he was about $5 million overpaid, but by the end of last year it seemed like it was closer to $8-$10 million.
- De’Anthony Melton - A lagniappe. He fell into the Rocket’s lap in the mid second. They didn’t expect him to be there, but being the Rockets, they drafted him. He plays PG. So does a guy named Chris Paul, and also, really, James Harden. Was there a role for a defensive minded PG, with some other skills on the Rockets? Yes. In fact I considered a decent backup PG a priority, and hoped Melton, as a rookie, could be that guy.
- Brandon Knight - last seen not playing, after Phoenix’s famous Giant Stack O’ PG Types collapsed. Given a $15 million contract. Known to be an atrocious defender with a good to very good offensive skill-set if playing well.
- Marquese Chriss - an athletic talent, drafted #8. Had a good rookie year under the cirumstances (PHX was awful, and remained awful and may well be awful again, with some glimmers of hope). Chriss had The Difficult Second Album last season with lots of criticism about conditioning, attitude, intelligence, shot selection, maturity, defense, singing ability, and failure to recite the catechism properly. 21 years old entering his third NBA season.
So what do the Rockets see in this deal?
Brandon Knight and His Contract - It is roughly $6-$7 million less than Ryan Andersons. It is therefore easier to trade. If Knight is rehabilitated by the Rockets like I think he will be, it will be easier still.
Brandon Knight The Player - If he’s playing well as an offensive player, he might well be useful as a caddy to Chris Paul. But, he’s a bad defender, terrible, the worst. Am I talking about Knight, or Harden? That’s what people say about James Harden right now, the very minute, despite two years of evidence to the contrary. This convinces me that Knight can at least be decent on defense, because the Rockets scheme seems to allow for bad defenders to become about average.
What about offense? At one time he was pretty good. He adds a shooter and ballhandler, the two things we weren’t sure Melton could be. If Paul misses 20 games again the load doesn’t just fall on Harden and Gordon, it falls on a veteran who, I would imagine, will be grateful for the chance, and thrilled to be out of Phoenix, where he clearly was in no one’s plans.
Marquese Chriss - I have mentioned in some pieces I’ve written and in the comments that I was concerned that last year’s team lacked athleticism outside of Capela. Chriss certainly addresses that. He’s 6’10”, quick, fast and a good leaper. He’s shown ability to shoot, and to play a little with his back to the basket. We can find much to criticize in his game, and play, but the seeds of a much better game are there, too.
At the risk of offending Suns fans, Phoenix was the worst looking team I saw last season, including the Kings. I rarely had an idea of what they were, or were trying to do. Phoenix has developed basically one player in several years of picks, and that guy, no offense, is a conscienceless gunner, in Booker, who really doesn’t need anything but the ball to do his thing. He’s a good gunner, mind you, but one all the same.
All those bigs? Everyone else in Phoenix? Well there was a crowd at PF, and Phoenix hasn’t done anything resembling developing a big, quite the opposite, really. I think environment matters to ALL players, and especially matters to a very young player like Chriss. Add to that Phoenix drafted a guy who is basically Chriss again, in Josh Jackson. It’s not surprising to me that Chriss struggled. Could a young, raw, player do well in the Rockets structure, with a team that is effectively of the opposite of Phoenix at this point?
Think about this - could a young, big, super athletic guy score a lot of easy points with Harden and Paul on the Rockets on PNR? Clint Capela says “Welcome Marquese!”
Brandon Knight will be handy, and with proper incentive can be traded for a guy the Rockets may need. If some other guys pan out, he may just add to the offensive backcourt, and do a very good job spotting Chris Paul, limiting his minutes, filling-in, etc.
It may not be until next year that we really see it: Chriss is going to be good and make this trade look fantastic for the Rockets. As much as Anderson was a key to the deal, so was Chriss.
How do Knight and Chriss work out as PLAYERS for the Rockets?
This poll is closed
We barely see them, it’s all to move Anderson, set up more deals.
They play a lot better than they did on the Suns.
They’re about the same as they were on the Suns.
They’d be good if Rick Carlisle was coaching them. Mavs in three!