In an article by Bleacher Report’s Zach Buckley, he lays out a scenario in which Kevin Love lands in Houston via a three-team blockbuster trade deal with the Cleveland Cavaliers and Charlotte Hornets.
The Rockets aren’t fixing this defense. They probably can’t come close without taking a hatchet to their offense, which, if all clicks, remains their only potential ticket to the top.
This offense must be better. With Kevin Love, it could be ridiculous. He has the three-ball to work as a spacer, the post game to bail them out of stagnant possessions, the outlet passes to ignite the transition game and the IQ to work wonders as a ball-screener for Harden or Westbrook.
In the deal, the Hornets would receive Ben McLemore, Nene, Isaiah Hartenstein, and a 2021 second-round pick while the Cavs would get a return of Clint Capela and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist for Kevin Love.
That might be enough for Houston to part with Clint Capela, who’s an exciting big man but someone who has struggled in certain small-ball matchups in past postseasons. That’s not a great concern for Cleveland, which pounces on the chance to get a 25-year-old cornerstone big man and has roughly three months to decide whether Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, the second pick in 2012, is worth keeping around.
The Hornets simply play the money-matching part to grab a couple of low-level assets for a player they pulled from the rotation late last season and haven’t reinserted since. Isaiah Hartenstein is a 21-year-old 7-footer with inside-out potential. The second-round pick gives general manager Daryl Morey another trade chip to play with. Ben McLemore probably isn’t turning the corner at this point, but what’s the harm in adding him?
With Love, Harden, and Westbrook, the Rockets might just have enough fire-power to make up for their abysmal defense. Love can stretch the floor, pass to open teammates and rebound off the glass. He is an offensive juggernaut.
But are they willing to pay the price? It would require the Rockets to give up a significant piece in the frontcourt: Clint Capela. They will have to determine if going all-in on offense is worth sacrificing what’s left of their defense. All of this only works if the Rockets are willing to gamble and with Harden and Westbrook both on the wrong side of 30, they might feel pressured to act.