As the NBA rapidly approaches the trade deadline (Feb. 6), the Houston Rockets are set to make a move on the open market. From the outside looking in, the Rockets may not appear to be in a bad situation to the vast majority.
With 40 games in the books, they are currently sitting fifth in the Western Conference with a 26-14 record, and nearly half of the league would prefer to be in their position. But in reality, Houston is far from the championship-contending team they came into the season expecting to be.
With two of their most troublesome losses of the season coming at the hands of the Grizzlies and Trail Blazers, it is clear something must change for the Rockets to not only live up to their preseason expectations, but put themselves in position to compete with the two L.A. teams in Southern California.
As the rumors continue to swirl on the Rockets’ endless pursuit to land Andre Iguodala or Robert Covington, adding another wing to this roster may not be a wise decision. Both Iguodala and Covington are two of the most well-rounded 3&D players on the market, but why waste the final roster spot on someone similar to the likes of Danuel House, Eric Gordon and Ben McLemore?
The one aspect Daryl Morey and the Rockets should examine heading into the trade market is a big man — in particular, a stretch four who could help lessen the workload and heavy minutes played by the undersized P.J. Tucker.
Despite standing at 6’5, Tucker has excelled playing as the Rockets’ stretch four for the third consecutive season. Unfortunately, the lack of size the 34-year-old forward gives up could eventually have a negative affect on Houston in a seven-game series that may feature Paul Millsap, Montrezl Harrell and Anthony Davis.
The best possible option to land a player who could help with the lack of size while staying true to their identity is Detroit Pistons’ forward, Markieff Morris.
1/15/20— Jayhawks In The NBA (@NBA_Jayhawks) January 16, 2020
Markieff Morris vs Celtics (21 min)
23 points (9-14 FG) (3 3’s) (2-3 FT)
2 rebounds 2 assists 2 steals 1 block pic.twitter.com/OT2xlrafLN
Fresh off a 23-point performance in a win over the Boston Celtics on Wednesday, Morris would make a great addition within Mike D’Antoni’s system. While averaging 10.9 points, shooting a career-best 40% on 3-point field goals, Morris can help improve the lack of production coming from the Rockets’ bench and serve as a perfect backup big man with his ability to spread the floor.
In addition to his fit within the offense, Morris is a realistic option for a team looking to improve their roster without falling into the luxury tax, as the 6’10 forward from Kansas is obtaining a little over $3.2 million over the next two seasons.
However, if the opportunity is missed to land Morris in a deal come February, the buy-out market will provide a former all-star who can help improve the Rockets’ lack of size — Joakim Noah.
After an unfortunate stint with the New York Knicks, Noah revised his career in Memphis last season and played relatively well as a member of the Grizzlies. While averaging 7.1 points and 5.7 rebounds across 42 games, Noah proved he can still be a defensive force and relentless rebounder off the bench.
The addition of Noah is far from the prototypical fit to play in D’Antoni’s system, but his defensive presence will overshadow his offensive limitations. Similar to the way Morris’ offensive presence will overshadow his rebounding and defensive limitations with his addition to the team.
Whether its Markieff Morris, Joakim Noah or any other versatile big men available, adding additional size to this ball club should be the Rockets’ top priority when executing moves to improve their chances of winning that elusive NBA title.