Welcome to part two of trade deadline window shopping. Two weeks ago, we discussed possible trade candidates in the Eastern Conference but held off on the west as, at the time, 14 teams were still full steam ahead for the playoffs.
Unfortunately, although the picture is slightly clearer now, the league’s superior conference remains as competitive as ever, making it difficult to parse through which teams want to sell. Regardless, with just over two weeks until the big day, it’s necessary to consider possible trade targets on teams that could theoretically fall out of the playoff race enough to shift their focus to next season and auction off spare parts.
So, for now, we will only touch on the five teams under .500 since all other teams will almost certainly be buyers, or stand pat, down the stretch.
Lastly, once again, we will focus almost entirely on bigger wings since Kenneth Faried has filled the backup big void and the Rockets already bolster arguably the best guard rotation in the league.
Let’s get down to it:
T.J. Warren- Unfortunately, despite being the only team with no plans of chasing the playoffs, the Suns have almost nothing of value to offer a team like the Rockets (that they’re willing to give up at least). Warren at least makes a bit of sense based on his 6’8” frame and newfound +40-percent three-point shooting. However, Warren’s a mediocre wing defender at best, which is arguably the primary goal of any deadline move, and he has always preferred slashing, jumbling up any theoretical fit. Hopefully, Phoenix manages to get off his bloated contract so that their younger wings can flourish down the stretch.
Justin Holiday- Originally, I omitted Holiday from this list since they had just traded two second-round picks to acquire him in a desperation move. But recent reports that the Grizzlies are (finally!) shopping cornerstones Mike Conley and Marc Gasol means that they’ve likely accepted Holiday as a sunk cost and would move him for basically anything. Despite struggling mightily in Memphis, Holiday shot 36% from three in Chicago this season and last, so he could provide decent deep bench depth. He’s solid defensively, but is too slight to guard any elite scorers, so a buyout addition is far more logical.
Garrett Temple- Temple (6 ‘6”) isn’t exactly a big wing, but he has quietly had a career year in Memphis. At just over 36 percent, he’s above league average from outside for the third straight year and can defend at a high level. Plus, he’s known as one of the NBA’s best locker room guys, which can always come in handy in the postseason.
Chandler Parsons- Parsons shot 42 percent from three last season in limited action and has shown before that he can fit next to James Harden. If he hits the buyout market, a 10-day contract or something of the sort to see if he as anything left in the tank wouldn’t be the worst idea in the world. Rockets fans would likely meltdown should this happen, however.
Wesley Matthews- Matthews is easily the name on this list that’s been thrown around in mock trades the most, and for good reason. He’s 38 percent from three yet again and despite being only 6’5”, he has consistently defended bigger wings with relative success (although a lot less so lately). Additionally, he’s on an expiring contract, allowing Houston to let him walk this summer should the fit not materialize. Unfortunately, any trade with Brandon Knight going to Dallas is hard to sell considering they’d like to keep their books clean going forward to build around Luka Doncic. Regardless, if any front office can make this happen, it’s Houston.
New Orleans Pelicans:
Nikola Mirotic- He’s not a wing, but If the Pelicans fall out of it completely while Anthony Davis misses time with his life-threatening finger injury, trading for Mirotic is a possible swing-for-the-fences play the Rockets could make. He’s an overqualified floor spacer to play off their bench, and has a recent track record of raising his play exponentially in the playoffs. Additionally, he’s in the last year of his deal, so the Rockets could easily let him go this summer should their pockets get tight once again.
Wesley Johnson- This would define a meh addition, but Harden’s most famous victim is shooting 39 percent from deep on similar volume to James Ennis, so he could be a serviceable wing depth insurance policy.
Darius Miller- Miller is a relative unknown in NBA circles, but he’s 6’8”, can play the two or the three, and shooting a D’Antonian percentage of his shots from three at a 39-percent clip. Once again, It’s far from a sexy pickup, but the Rockets could do a lot worse.
Anthony Tolliver- If you couldn’t tell by this article’s picture, this is the move I’m highest on. Tolliver is a 6 ‘8” swing forward veteran shooting above 38 percent from deep for what might be the 35th year in a row and has been wasting away on Minnesota’s bench since they acquired Dario Saric. Like the aforementioned Miller, Tolliver already shoots the vast majority of his shots from three, so any grace period would be brief, if at all. Think a 15 percent worse Marvin Williams, that is 1/3rd the price.
Tobias Harris- Surprise addition! Although they aren’t below .500 like the other teams listed, the Clippers have lost 6 of 7 and have made surprisingly foresighted moves before (see Blake Griffin). If the front office is hesitant about paying Harris this summer, he’s a possible go-for-it move the Rockets could make, similar to the Mirotic one discussed earlier. Although the fit isn’t entirely natural, it’d be interesting to see what kind of numbers Harris— who’s above 40 percent from three for the fourth straight year— would put up if he shot more than the almost DeRozan-esque 29.7 percent of his shots from three he is currently taking. Unfortunately, it’d be a hard move to make considering the Clippers would avoid Knight’s 2019-20 money like the black plague, but as I said before, in Morey we trust.
Mike Scott- This one’s far more realistic, but would likely only happen as a buyout should the Clippers fall even further. Scott shot above 40 percent from deep last season in Washington and has risen his play in the playoffs recently, shooting 60 percent from the field in his last 16 postseason games. Additionally, although not a stopper, his 6’8” frame would make him a solid P.J. Tucker stand-in for stretches and he can play the three at times as well.
What do you think, TDS? Who would you want the most? Who am I missing?