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Analyzing the Rockets-Suns trade

Analyzing the Rockets-Suns trade
Daryl Morey pulled off another deal. Rockets.com

Full trade:

Houston receives:

Marquese Chriss

Brandon Knight

Phoenix receives:

Ryan Anderson

De'Anthony Melton

You don't see big NBA trades in late-August, but that didn't stop the Rockets and Suns from coming together on one Thursday night. The motivations of this trade are pretty clear for both sides: Phoenix wanted to get rid of two distressed assets while Houston wanted to save significant luxury tax money.

The Rockets have reportedly searched out trades for Ryan Anderson for nearly a year now. The 30-year-old forward is two years into a massive 4-year, $80 million contract and had become both a financial and on-court liability for Houston. Anderson had seen his role diminish slowly over the past year from starter to eventual reserve who didn't see much playing time in the postseason. He had effectively become close to dead salary for a contending team like the Rockets.

By trading Anderson and rookie De'Anthony Melton to the Suns in exchange for Brandon Knight and Marquese Chriss, the Rockets will be saving $3.4 million in salary and $7.9 million in luxury tax for a total savings of at least $11.3 million. This is assuming Melton would have signed with Houston for his rookie minimum. If he had planned on signing for more, that's even more in savings. It's easy to see why this sort of trade was attractive to the Rockets.

Houston will also have a noticeably bigger amount of their taxpayer mid-level exception to sign players this season as they were due to pay Melton his rookie minimum and they no longer have to do that, leaving up to $4.5 million to spend. The Rockets will have the option to save the money, use the exception this summer or spend it midseason to make roster upgrades (the most likely scenario).

Unfortunately losing Melton is a blow to Houston. Melton had shown real promise of being a second round steal after his one year at USC and in Summer League with the Rockets. Defensively, Melton has the tools to be a swiss army knife in the backcourt and is a fine pickup for Phoenix.

As for what Houston got in the trade, Brandon Knight is a player that might be able to crack the rotation right away. Houston has needed another point guard since they traded Patrick Beverley away in the Chris Paul deal last summer and Knight fits the mold of a guard can can succeed in Mike D'Antoni's offense. Defensively, he has some real warts and may struggle to see the floor in key moments, but he can be a nice off-guard and injury replacement if called upon. It should be noted that Knight is coming off a serious ACL injury and will take some time to regain form.

Marquese Chriss on the other hand, is more of a project for the Rockets. Although he was the 8th overall pick in the 2016 draft, Chriss has yet to show promise in the NBA as an impactful player. He isn't particularly efficient, he can't shoot, and often gets lost on defense. However, his age, size, and athleticism makes him a tantalizing project for Houston.

Chriss can battle with Isaiah Hartenstein for Houston's coveted third center spot, which often gets used when backup center Nene Hilario takes rest days. The Rockets have always had confidence that certain players develop and play better in their organization than others and this is a prime example of that. Houston also has a player option with Chriss that they can choose to not exercise and save an additional $4.1 million should he not work out.

There are several ways to view this trade and a lot of it depends on what you think of Melton. However that may be, it was still good asset management on Houston's part to unload Ryan Anderson's salary without having to forfeit a first round pick. Even if both Brandon Knight and Marquese Chriss don't work out for the Rockets, they save a ton of money in luxury tax at the cost of  Melton, who they got for just a 2nd round pick. It's not a home run deal per se, but it's definitely a solid one - textbook Daryl Morey.

 

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Braves beat Houston in extra innings, 5-4. Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images.

Marcell Ozuna hit his major league-leading eighth homer and Orlando Arcia’s RBI single in the 10th inning lifted the Atlanta Braves to a 5-4 win over the Houston Astros on Wednesday.

It completes a three-game sweep of the struggling Astros and is Atlanta’s fourth straight victory.

The Braves scored two runs in the eighth inning to tie it at 4-4. Michael Harris II started the 10th as the automatic runner on second and there was one out in the inning when Seth Martinez (1-1) intentionally walked Matt Olson.

Ozuna lined out to right field to send Harris to third base. Arcia then singled on a ground ball to left field to score Harris and put the Braves on top.

Pinch-runner Jake Meyers was on second when Kyle Tucker walked with no outs in the 10th. Meyers moved to third on a fly out by Yainer Diaz but Jeremy Peña grounded into a double play to end it.

A.J. Minter (3-1) got the last two outs of the ninth for the win and Raisel Iglesias earned his fifth save.

Reigning NL MVP Ronald Acuña Jr. added his first homer of the season to help the Braves to the victory. Ozuna also leads the majors with 23 RBIs and he extended his hitting streak to 16 games, which ties his career best and is the longest active streak in the majors.

Yordan Alvarez and Mauricio Dubón both homered for the Astros, who fell to 6-14 and are last in the AL West.

There was one out in the first when Alvarez connected on his homer to the seats in left field to put Houston up 1-0.

Ozuna opened the second with his 432-foot shot to left field, which bounced off the wall and tied the game.

Acuña put the Braves up 2-1 when he sent the first pitch of the fifth inning to straightaway center field.

The Astros tied it on an RBI single by Alex Bregman in the fifth and Kyle Tucker’s RBI double came next to put the Astros up 3-2.

Dubón hit his first home run of the year off Jesse Chavez to start Houston’s sixth and push the lead to 4-2.

Harris singled to start the seventh before a ground-rule double by Austin Riley. Olson reached, and Harris scored on a fielding error by first baseman José Abreu when he couldn’t grab a routine ground ball.

There was one out in the inning when Riley scored on a sacrifice fly by Arcia to tie it at 4-all.

Houston starter J.P. France allowed four hits and two runs in five innings.

Max Fried gave up seven hits and three runs in five innings.

UP NEXT

Braves: Atlanta is off Thursday before opening a series against Texas on Friday night with LHP Chris Sale (1-1, 4.58 ERA) on the mound.

Astros: Houston is also off Thursday before ace Justin Verlander will make his season debut Friday night against Washington. The three-time Cy Young Award winner opened the season on the injured list with inflammation in his right shoulder.

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