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Dumping Anderson's contract makes off-season a win for the Rockets

Brandon Knight came back to the Rockets in the Ryan Anderson trade. Christian Petersen/Getty Images

OK I said it—if the Rockets were somehow able to unload Ryan Anderson’s contract,  the off season would be a success. At the end of the day the team added a proven scorer in Carmelo Anthony, who will take Anderson's minutes and is not lacking in confidence—regular season or playoffs. Although I still have a few concerns regarding what the Rockets gave up in this trade and what the roster looks like right now, I will stay true to my word and give credit where credit is due. Here's my take on the trade and the off season moves the team has made preparing for the upcoming season.

At first glance, the trade looks like a huge win for Houston. After courting Ryan Anderson for years and the organization saying he was the ultimate stretch 4, it all went south in a hurry. First, they had to overpay him in free agency and $21 million dollars a year is not going to be a popular move when it's a 4 year contract. If you doubt me, look no further than the Brock Osweiler contract. A year into the deal, the signs were there that he was never going to be able to live up to the billing.

Anderson is an above average 3-point shooter, but he showed a weakness in the mental aspects of the game. When his shot wasn’t falling he was quick to pass up open looks or worse than that, continue to shoot deep 3s with absolutely no confidence the shot was going in. In the playoffs, not only was he still erratic with his shot, his role as a starter was a distant memory and his defensive liabilities made him virtually impossible to keep on the floor for any length of time. In short, the writing was on the wall that Anderson would not be a member of the Rockets next season.  Of course there was always the possibility of a buyout, but I don't think that would have flown inside the Toyota Center walls.

The biggest problem I have with the trade is the fact that Houston had to part ways with their second round draft pick, De'Anthony Melton. Melton slid in the draft due to his name being linked to the NCAA recruiting scandal of a year ago, but strictly from a basketball perspective, this kid has a ton of talent and a huge upside. He quickly showed in summer league that he belongs in the NBA, and given the right situation, with hard work and a team that has patience, he could develop into an above average player in the NBA. Obviously with the talented roster that the Rockets have and the additions that the team has made, they felt like he was expendable. If giving up Melton was the price you had to pay to get rid of Anderson, then tht price was right and the deal was a no brainer.

The only other concern I have with the move is the fact that the Rockets did not recoup any cap room, as they were forced to take back veteran point guard Brandon Knight, as well as underachieving, former lottery pick Marquese Chriss. Chriss is a 6'10" big man that is known more for his attitude than his ability, as he has squandered most of the opportunities he has been given. He has let his emotions get the best of him during his time in Phoenix to the point where patience was wearing thin. Phoenix had seen enough and was ready to move on, especially after drafting Deandre Ayton.

Knight has had his moments in the league, as he has been an above average player with both the Pistons and the Bucks. Unfortunately, in Phoenix he had the double whammy of having attitude problems as well as eventually tearing his ACL, which ended his stint as a Sun. He also comes with a hefty price tag as he is making over $15 million dollars a year for the next 2 seasons, which Houston is on the hook for. So fans that had high hopes of getting salary cap flexibility in any Anderson trade, have to be content knowing that at least they unloaded his ridiculous contract and prolonged shooting slumps to free up minutes for Melo and others.

Heading into training camp, the biggest issue on the roster is defensive. Whether you want to admit it or not, Trevor Ariza and Luc Mbah a Moute were huge for them and will be missed. Of course they will be forever labeled by Rockets fans as failures, based on their inability to come up big at the biggest moments of the playoffs, including Game 7 against the Warriors. Fact is, they were two of the five best defenders on a team that ranked in the top handful of squads in the NBA.

Morey and his staff have added several players this off-season, but none come close to being able to defend and rotate like the two guys they lost. It remains to be seen if they will be able to maintain their status as an elite defensive team in the wake of their off season departures, as James Ennis and Michael Carter Williams are not exactly defensive stoppers by league standards.  Let's also keep in mind Carmelo Anthony has never been known for his defense or his desire to get stops, but alas, now is the time for optimism and hope across basketball, so why not dream big and expect the unexpected? Regardless, you can put it on the board for this off season, it's a "W" in my book.

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TEXANS TRAINING CAMP WATCH

11 Texans training camp observations from August 7th

Houston Texans insider dishes on why Derek Stingley Jr was the right pick

The Houston Texans had a “vanilla” day of light work. Here are 11observations from the workout.

1. It was a light day for the Texans. Some would say sluggish, I wouldn’t agree with that. Did it look like a day off was in order? Yes. Did anyone make mental mistakes because of their energy level? Not that I could see. With it being a lighter day, it might be worthwhile to focus on some of the depth on the roster.

2. Isaac Yiadom (pronounced YEAH-dum) has had some moments in training camp. With rookie Derek Stingley having a light day, Yiadom played opposite Steven Nelson. Yiadom has had a few pass breakups and seems to be physical in coverage. He has a little speed to him, or he’s shown the ability to stick with wideouts. He is a top preseason game target to watch.

3. Phillip Dorset had a very nice back-of-the-end zone catch. It might have, likely even, been a sack for the defense in a live rep or team rep, but Davis Mills ripped the ball out as the whistle was starting to sound. Dorset with two feet in the back after juking a defender. He is squarely behind other wideouts having missed time but being a veteran should catch up quickly.

4. Wideout Connor Wedington had a few nice plays on Sunday. He has an uphill battle to make the roster, but Davis Mills’ former teammate might squeeze his way into the conversation. There are opportunities for him with a few other wideouts banged up.

5. Rookie tight end Tegan Quitoriano bodied his way for a touchdown. The rookie hasn’t done much in camp, but his size is clearly an advantage. Game reps and more padded practice will be important for him this preseason.

6. Chris Moore is a veteran taking yet another swing at making this team. If the Texans played tomorrow, I would have him on the roster. Probably even starting at slot wideout. He had a very nice leaping grab today.

7. Versatility for a couple of backup offensive linemen may lead to them making the team. Well, it certainly won’t hurt their case. Justin McCray has played all three interior offensive line spots. The veteran could start if needed, but I have to imagine he is a key backup inside. Scott Quessenberry (yes related to former Texans lineman David and current fullback Paul) played guard on Sunday. He is a factor to be Justin Britt’s backup at center.

8. Charlie Heck was not a pick I was in love with when Bill O’Brien selected him a couple of seasons ago. Heck has grown a lot in his game and physically and is surely the backup tackle for this team. He can play left and right tackle.

9. Tae Davis plays linebacker and wears 19. It is the strangest thing to see a linebacker in that number. It has not been strange to see Davis make a play here or there in practice. The linebacker room is loaded but Davis is making the most of his chances.

10. Ka’imi Fairbairn HAMMERED a ball right down the uprights after Davis Mills had led the team into field goal range on a last-minute drill. Mills easily moved the team down the field without the normal group of linemen or weapons. Good finish to practice.

11. Jonathan Greenard did some pushups after he couldn’t replicate history. Greenard almost had his second interception of Davis Mills, but the ball fell incomplete. Greenard has been a force in training camp.

Bonus Quote of the Day: “I was a fat guy last year” said Pharaoh Brown as he talked about his leaner and quicker frame compared to last year.

Listen to Cody Stoots weekdays afternoons 3-7pm on his show "The Wheelhouse" live on ESPN 97.5 + 92.5 FM or anytime on demand at the podcast here.

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