If you’re getting blown out by 50+ points, holding 2hr long locker room meetings and refusing to practice the next day; chances are you’re the Chicago Bulls. If, however, you’re sitting there trying to find new and creative ways to get even an inch of ground on the almost inevitable NBA Champion Golden State Warriors. Ways that include 10 whole games including 2 starts of Carmelo Anthony (which cost you $2.4m by the way), you might well be the Houston Rockets.
I’m honestly not sure what Rockets General Manager Daryl Morey has been smoking, but I’ll take some to go please because the latest word around the league is that the Rockets have quote-unquote interest in perennial score-forgetter and shirtless maniac JR Smith.
Let’s not forget, this is a team that came within 1 game last year of making the NBA finals, pray do tell how exactly JR Smith isn’t more of a hindrance. Then again while the Warriors have improved their roster, signing Boogie Cousins in the offseason, the Rockets seem to be playing superstar catch-up and are now just hunting for someone, anyone to help them take that next step.
I would understand if they were a team devoid of offense, despite his many flaws JR Smith can put numbers on the board, often serious numbers. The problem is that the Rockets don’t need offense, they have James Harden for that, they need a defensive upgrade to cover for “The Beard” on the other end of the court.
I’m not exactly sure how trading for another offensive weapon helps the Rockets close the gap on Golden State, granted they may get some extra points from the bench but there are better trade targets than JR Smith.
It’s also worth remembering that Smith (seen below pleading with LeBron James to unblock him on Twitter after Game 1 of the 2018 NBA Finals), is currently on leave from the Cavaliers after accusing the team of not wanting to win and tanking for a better draft pick. I believe this time around it’s known as Tryin’, for Zion, but in his defence it does look like Smith has a point.
Not to mention, exactly what do the Rockets have to give up to get Smith? It’s not like anyone is running down the street yelling “EURIKA” at the idea of trading for Gerald Green any time soon. Which means that in order to get the deal done the Rockets have to give up something extra and that something is probably draft picks. They could look to get all $14.6m of Brandon Knight off the books, but again are the Cavs likely to do a straight-up swap, probably not.
Personally, I’d suggest targeting Miami Heat big man Hassan Whiteside; who seems to be the odd man out in the land of vice, palm trees, and Dan LeBatard, especially with the rise of Justise Winslow all but demanding a larger portion of the minutes.
He’s tracking as one of the better defenders in the league and adds an element of height and rim protection, currently averaging 2.9 blocks and 13.7 rebounds per game, and given his apparent spat with the team seeing him inactive the past couple of games a far less expensive trade package could most likely be arranged.
No matter how this shakes out, one thing is all but too clear. The Houston Rockets are clutching at anything that resembles straws to keep pace with other teams out West, and with their recent history of player acquisition, they’d be better served letting the mascot suggest trades. Or maybe that’s what they’re doing.