The Houston Rockets pulled off a blockbuster trade over the offseason by sending Chris Paul and future draft picks to the Oklahoma City Thunder to acquire Russell Westbrook. Now Houston has two former MVP’s in its starting backcourt. James Harden is on a scoring tear that makes last year’s look like child’s play while the Rockets sit in the middle of the pack in the Western Conference’s playoff race. Houston is always looking for the final piece to complete a championship-caliber roster. Maybe it can pull that off this time around.
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Celtics, Rockets talking Clint Capela trade
Update, Feb. 3: The Rockets are looking to flip Clint Capela for assets they can flip for wing depth and a replacement center, ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reported Monday. Houston’s pursuit of first-round picks could send Capela to the Atlanta Hawks or Boston Celtics. Robert Covington and Andre Iguodala are said to be among the Rockets’ top targets.
Sources: The Atlanta Hawks remain a possible landing spot for Capela too. Rockets are pursuing first-round picks to flip into a deal for a wing player and another center. Robert Covington and Andre Iguodala are among several Houston targets. https://t.co/uWXqPqEx6T— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) February 3, 2020
Now that Houston is no longer interested in dealing for Robert Covington, it will likely turn to the buyout market to enhance its bench. Daryl Morey has done this successfully in the past, and there are a few candidates who could help the Rockets. The jury’s still out on whether the Memphis Grizzlies will set Andre Iguodala free, but Houston has shown interest in him before. Plenty of other teams could be in pursuit if Iguodala though, but several other serviceable 3-and-D players should be available.
— Ameer Tyree
Update, Jan. 17: The Rockets are no longer interested in Timberwolves swingman Robert Covington, The Athletic reported.
Source: Rockets no longer interested in Timberwolves F Robert Covington, still plan to be aggressive in market before trade deadline. https://t.co/nrJCI7zzpX— Kelly Iko (@KellyIkoNBA) January 17, 2020
Per Kelly Iko, Houston is still being aggressive in the trade market prior to the deadline, which isn’t surprising if you’re familiar with the work of GM Daryl Morey. Right now, do the Rockets have enough to contend with the Lakers and Clippers in the West? Probably not. Do they even have enough to get past the Nuggets or Jazz? I’m not even sure of that. James Harden is capable of anything, and now Houston has Russell Westbrook. But depth is an issue and dealing with LeBron-AD and PG-13-Kawhi won’t be easy.
— Ben Zweiman
How long can they last without a power forward?
The Rockets haven’t been the least bit conventional with their strategies during the Mike D’Antoni era, but it might want to make some adjustments. It’s depth at the power forward spot leaves could definitely use some work. P.J. Tucker is 6’5” and is the only player on the roster listed as a power forward. Behind him on the Rockets’ current depth chart are 6’6 Thabo Sefolosha, 7-foot center Isaiah Hartenstein, and 6’8” shooting guard William Howard, who hasn’t played in a game this year. Houston wants to stretch the floor with 3-point shooters, but it also needs size to bother lankier post players. Marcus Morris and Kevin Love should at least be on the Rockets’ radar.
A 3-and-D upgrade
Houston’s best team in recent years featured wings Trevor Ariza and Luc M’bah a Moute. The Rockets have tried to replace them with lesser players since their departure, but that hasn’t really worked out. Fillers like Danuel House, Ben McLemore, and Sefolosha don’t quite fit the mold. However, there are players on the market that would be significant upgrades. One that comes to mind is Robert Covington, who could provide Houston with a lot more length on the wing at 6-9 and was started his NBA career with the Rockets as an undrafted rookie in 2013. There are other options Houston could pursue, but this seems like the best fit.