5 stars the Rockets can trade for this offseason
The Houston Rockets are in win-now mode with James Harden and Russell Westbrook in the middle of their primes. With their superstar backcourt both above 30, their championship window may be on borrowed time. Currently sitting at sixth in the Western Conference, it’s arguable that they are slowly slipping away from the upper echelon of the elite in the NBA.
If Harden, Westbrook, and company don’t make a deep playoff push this year, it’s likely that Rockets GM Daryl Morey will explore the trade market again. However, given Houston’s financial situation, they are very much capped with what they can do. Nonetheless, Morey is known for his creativity in pulling off trades for star players and isn’t shy to make a splash on the trade scenes.
Here are some stars the Rockets can trade for this coming off-season:
5. Myles Turner
The Indiana Pacers have a logjam at center with both Myles Turner and Domantas Sabonis. While the two have shared the front court together in Indiana this season, their fit alongside each other is questionable at best. If the Pacers do intend to choose from one of them, they are likely going to keep Sabonis, given how he has blossomed an All-Star caliber big man for them this season.
Should the Pacers make Turner available, Houston should explore trading for him. The Rockets made it clear by trading away Clint Capela that they are going all-in with small ball. Nonetheless, that shouldn’t stop Morey from considering the 24-year old as a potential piece for their title hopes.
Unlike Capela, Turner can actually make shots from beyond the arc. He gives them an option as a rim-runner, similar to what Capela provided, and as a floor spacer with his shooting ability. In addition, Turner, who led the league in blocks last season, also offers elite rim protection. The 6-foot-11 big man should come in handy when they face teams with elite post players such as the Los Angeles Lakers, Denver Nuggets, and the Philadelphia 76ers.
4. Al Horford
Al Horford debut season with the Philadelphia 76ers has not gone as well as his new team would have liked. Horford hasn’t been a good fit for them and has looked lost on the floor for most of the season. Should all things go sour for the Sixers this coming postseason, they will likely explore the 6-foot-10 big man’s value on the trade market.
If Philadelphia makes him available, Houston should strongly consider trading for Horford. At 34-years old, Horford has lost a bit of a step. Nonetheless, he has shown that he is very effective when placed in the right situation.
A change of scenery could be beneficial for the 6-foot-9 big man. Horford’s 3-point shooting numbers have dipped this season. Then again, that could be attributed to the significantly lesser space he has had to work within Philadelphia’s offense. In his three-year stint with the Celtics, he did shoot a solid 38.2 percent. Perhaps he could be as efficient or even better in Houston’s more spacious offense with James Harden and Russell Westbrook’s penetrating ability.
3. Kevin Love
Kevin Love has made it clear that he wants out of Cleveland. Likewise, the Cavaliers forward would likely prefer to land on a championship-caliber squad. The Cavaliers have likely already explored options for Love. Houston should try to aggressively pursue a trade for the All-Star big man.
As mentioned, Houston is going full swing with small ball. However, like Turner, Love’s fit shouldn’t be a problem given his elite shooting ability from beyond the arc. A career 37.0 percent shooter, Love is a terrific option for them as a spot-up shooter or on pick-and-pop situations.
Love is already past his prime. Nonetheless, he is still capable of filling the role of third star for a championship-caliber team. Though a below average post defender and a likely liability on pick-and-roll defense, Love is still a big body the Rockets can use when they go up against some of the bigger teams in the league.
Love’s arrival in Houston would also mean a reunion with former UCLA teammate Russell Westbrook. The Rockets already began the reunion party when they traded for Westbrook last year. Perhaps another one could finally put them over the top.
2. C.J. McCollum
If the Portland Trail Blazers intend to head towards the tanking route, the Rockets should definitely place C.J. McCollum as one of their top trade targets. Even though he plays shooting guard, the same position as James Harden, this shouldn’t become a problem as the Rockets don’t really care about positions anymore.
A career 39.7 percent three-point shooter, the LeHigh standout is a terrific fit in Houston’s three-ball heavy offense. He can basically become an upgraded version of Eric Gordon for them, and then some. McCollum has also improved significantly as a corner three-point shooter, shooting at nearly 56 percent in 2019-20.
Though he can create shots on his own, McCollum doesn’t have any problems playing off the ball as well. Playing alongside Damian Lillard, he has shown he is still an effective player without having the ball in his hands for the majority of the time. Over 66 percent of McCollum’s threes are assisted this season.
McCollum won’t offer Houston elite perimeter defense, but he isn’t a liability on that end either. Besides, defense isn’t really Houston’s top priority. They want to score at will and McCollum will certainly help them in that department.
1. Bradley Beal
Despite signing an extension with the Washington Wizards, teams around the league would likely still try to pry away Bradley Beal from the Capital City. Beal likely won’t want to waste his prime on a team that is going the wrong direction in terms of winning a championship. Should he request a trade, the Wizards will look to trade him while his value is at its highest.
Averaging 30.5 points this 2019-20 season, the 6-foot-3 combo guard has proven that he is one of the most elite scorers in the NBA today. As someone who can score in pretty much any way he wants to, be it from three, mid-range, or attacking the basket, Beal will certainly become a perfect piece for Houston’s offense-heavy system.
Sharing the backcourt with John Wall for most of his career, Beal also shouldn’t have any issues playing off the ball at times. Though a dynamic scorer on his own right, he is also a terrific catch-and-shoot option for the Rockets. For his career, nearly 80 percent of his threes have come from catch-and-shoot situations.
Houston will certainly have a ton of competition for Beal. Given their financial situation and previous trades they made, the Rockets also don’t have as many enticing prospects and assets on their shelves. Nonetheless, as mentioned, Morey has shown his creativity and willingness to make splashes to revitalize their title window. He shouldn’t lack any kind of aggressiveness in trying to trade for Beal, even if it means dealing with one of their incumbent stars.