After just falling short of the NBA Finals two years in a row, we all expected a change in the Houston Rockets roster. After all, GM Daryl Morey is always looking ahead to make changes to improve the squad. A failed Carmelo Anthony experiment and the decline of Chris Paul certainly made this offseason a priority for the Houston Rockets.
As unexpectedly as ever, the Rockets were able to ship out Chris Paul (and his albatross contract) to the OKC Thunder for Russel Westbrook in a player-to-player swap. In one move, the Rockets have catapulted themselves into title contention once again. Pairing Harden with Westbrook will be a nightmare for any team to contain, especially when you consider the selection of three-point shooters that are always on the court due to Mike D’Antoni’s high octane offense. Not to mention, Chris Paul took a heavy fall in production this season. Despite being one of the leaders of the Rockets and giving them a shot at the Warriors for two straight seasons, he simply was not able to perform at a high level to ease the burden off of James Harden this past season. Bringing in Russel Westbrook was certainly an upgrade.
Yet, Daryl Morey and the Rockets are always on the lookout for another star. The NBA is a star-driven league, and the more stars you have the better. Look for the Rockets to add one more star this offseason, and upgrade the Power Forward position that has been almost singlehandedly controlled by P.J. Tucker. With a few more chess moves by Daryl Morey, these are the three best trade targets for the Houston Rockets.
Andre Iguodala has proven to be a championship player thanks to his Finals MVP performance back in 2014-2015. He made life as difficult as possible for LeBron James while his Warriors captured the NBA championship. He also proved to be a key piece in the two more titles he won after Kevin Durant joined, with the Warriors taking out the Cavaliers both times. His stint with the Warriors ended this past season after the Warriors traded him to Memphis.
For the Houston Rockets, they might look to add Andre Iguodala to shore up the forward position and provide depth behind P.J. Tucker. While Iguodala is entering his late 30’s, he is in tremendous shape and has the championship pedigree that the Rockets need to compete for a title. Iguodala could be a valuable addition to a squad that is hungry for defenders and hustle-first players.
Memphis is holding out for a first-round pick to gain return for their trade earlier this Offseason. Expect the Rockets to fold and offer a first-round pick if no other moves show themselves for Daryl Morey.
We have all seen what Kevin Love is capable of from his early days in Minnesota, and his championship-winning run with the Cavaliers. Though he probably won’t replicate the 25-12 monster in Minnesota, Love can still drain shots from three and rebound at a very high level. Love will have plenty of open looks especially playing with Russel Westbrook and James Harden who are both maestros as finding the open man in D’Antoni’s offense. Can you imagine how many three-pointers Love can hit per game playing with the Rockets?
He also has championship experience and has shown the desire and ability to play defense in critical moments of a game (remember the lock-down D on Steph Curry in game 7 of the 2016 Finals?). At the very least, Love is probably hungry for another title shot again and probably will not want to be part of a rebuild that is devoid of any star power in Cleveland.
To make this work, the Rockets would have to package Eric Gordon and P.J. Tucker along with potentially a future first-round pick. Cleveland is starving for picks and young talent, but adding Gordon and Tucker would at least keep them somewhat relevant while their young core matures into their own. For the Rockets, they would be adding a sweet-shooting, championship-level player as a very efficient third option on offense.
If the Rockets want to get very ambitious, they might want a crack at Blake Griffin. Since coming into the league, Griffin has awed us with incredible feats of athleticism and strength. Despite being surprisingly shipped out of Los Angeles to Detroit, Griffin has steadily shown improvements in his game each and every year and has even improved his range to the three-point line (36.2% in 2019). Thanks to his work ethic, Griffin has firmly cemented his place as one of the top power forwards in the game. The prospect of pairing him with Westbrook and Harden should make Rockets fans drool.
Morey would have to get very creative to make this happen by most likely including a third-team. The only package the Houston can offer is Clint Capela, Eric Gordon, PJ Tucker and future draft picks.
The Pistons probably will not want Clint Capela to pair with Andre Drummond as that would be an offensive disaster. The only solution is to trade Capela (third-team trade) or Drummond in order to snag more first-round picks, and start with the rebuilding.
It has been an interesting few seasons for the San Antonio Spurs. They were forced into a Kawhi Leonard trade after they were certain he was going to be the face of the franchise, along with LaMarcus Aldridge. But that didn’t happen, and Kawhi found himself in a trade that sent DeMar DeRozan to the San Antonio Spurs. As good as DeRozan is, he is simply not on Kawhi’s level as the Spurs were bounced in the first round while Toronto won their first-ever championship.
Considering the movement in the Spurs roster and Gregg Popovich inching closer to retirement, perhaps the Spurs would look to rebuild with youngsters Dejounte Murray and Derrick White leading the charge. At the same time, it is likely Aldridge is getting frustrated with the situation of the Spurs and would like a new challenge. Recent reports indicated that Aldrige desires a return to Portland, although it is highly unlikely Aldridge will turn down a chance to join a top contending team such as the Rockets.
This is where Morey can come in, and convince the Spurs to take Clint Capela, Eric Gordon, PJ Tucker and future picks. This would create an All-Star trio of Westbrook, Harden, and Aldridge for the Rockets while the Spurs can add Clint Capela (still 25 years of age) to their rebuild. Eric Gordon is also an excellent shooter and capable defender that would fit nicely with the Spurs system. PJ Tucker is an underrated player and Popovich could use him as the defensive specialist for next season.
The Rockets are constantly craving All-Star players, and Aldridge would fit perfectly next to James Harden and Russell Westbrook.
The Rockets, in this regard, can fill out their starting lineup with 4 capable shooters at one time. If the Spurs are looking to move Aldridge, Morey should certainly consider a chance to him for a chance at solidifying their spot as a top two-seed in the West.