Houston Rockets 2019 trade deadline

An in-depth look at the possible moves Daryl Morey could make before 2 p.m. Thursday


The NBA trade deadline is set for 2 p.m. Central this Thursday. The Houston Rockets figure to be players with James Harden having a historic season and dragging the rest of the team to a 31-22 record with 29 games remaining in the regular season.

Harden needs help. Daryl Morey's additions of Carmelo Anthony, James Ennis, Michael Carter-Williams, Marquese Chriss and Brandon Knight have had little to no positive impact. Chris Paul has missed 23 games. Eric Gordon has missed 12 games. Clint Capela has currently missed the last 11 games.

Morey found a value in Austin Rivers and a steal in Kenneth Faried, who fits with the Rockets flawlessly. Houston's General Manager will have to work more magic to build a team that can compete with the Golden State Warriors, again.

It would be great for Houston to just wait for Clint Capela to come back, but they don't have that luxury. Harden has the highest usage rate in the NBA and plays the most minutes. He's still managing to play great low-post defense and his hand-eye coordination to poke out steals has become special. He's exhausted and it's only the first week of February.

Usage Rate %

  1. James Harden - 39.2
  2. Joel Embiid - 32.3
  3. Devin Booker - 31.0
  4. LeBron James - 30.5
  5. Giannis Antetokounmpo - 30.5

Even with Chris Paul, Eric Gordon and Clint Capela return, do you trust them to remain healthy? On paper, the lineup of CP3, Harden, Gordon, PJ Tucker and Capela looks good. Austin Rivers and Kenneth Faried would be able to provide excellent depth and not be relied on with starters minutes.

That's on paper. This injury-plagued Rockets team would still be just one tight hamstring, rolled ankle or bad knee injury away from having to shake-up the entire lineup again. Not to mention, that in my opinion, the Rockets best starting lineup with their current roster (if fully healthy) would be:

PG: Chris Paul

SG: James Harden

SF: PJ Tucker

PF: Kenneth Faried

C: Clint Capela

The Rockets could use the size of Faried and Capela to own the boards. It would also help with winning the rebound battle as the Rockets center can get pulled away from the rim on switches. The length and rebounding ability of Faried and Capela with PJ Tucker on the floor as well, would help them win second chance point battles and keep a big close to the boards. It would also allow two bigs to play off of picks for lobs from Paul and Harden. The NBA is position-less basketball, Tucker could still guard the opposing team's best offensive player whether he's listed at small forward or power forward. The additional bigs would also take reps off of Harden down on the low post, fighting against bigger opponents.

The obvious issue with this is the lack of depth that it'll leave on the bench in regards to big men. Nene can only give you limited minutes every leap year at this point in his career and Isaiah Hartenstein is still a few years away. This prevents the Rockets from going with a Capela / Faried starting lineup.

The Rockets have multiple needs and different paths they can go, all with the hope of building a team that can beat the Warriors in a seven game series. Will they add a 3 & D wing, another big for versatility and depth or could we see them upgrade the guard positions due to Paul's health concerns and no true, consistent scorer other then Harden, currently at the one and/or two.

Rockets Contracts

Expiring in 2019

Marquese Chriss - $3.2 million

James Ennis - $1.6 million (player option in 2019)

Gerald Green - $2.4 million

Austin Rivers - $1.16 million

Expiring in 2020

Eric Gordon - $13.5 million (2019)

$14 million (2020)

Nene - $3.7 million (2019)

$3.8 million (2020)

Brandon Knight - $14.6 million (2019)

$15.6 million (2020)

Expiring in 2022

Chris Paul

$35 million (2019)

$38 million (2020)

$41 million (2021)

$44 million (2022)

NBA Highest Contract for 2018-2019

1) Steph Curry - $37.5 million

T-2) LeBron James - $35.7 million

T-2) Chris Paul - $35.7 million

T-2) Russell Westbrook - $35.7 million

6th) Gordon Hayward - $31.2 million

10th) James Harden - $30.4 million

17th) Otto Porter - $26 million

It'll be almost impossible for Daryl Morey to move Chris Paul's contract and they probably don't have any interest to do so. Paul's body can't be trusted at the most crucial moments. The team can't rely on him to be healthy for a key playoff push. Morey could make calls to see if another team wants to part with their bad contract for Paul's bad contract, if there's a possible advantageous return. The Celtics look to have overpaid Gordon Hayward but at age 28, the Rockets could hope that he finds the touch again.

Gordon Hayward's Contract

2019 - $31 million

2020 - $33 million

2021 - $34 million

Hayward's 2018-19 stats:

48 games played / 16 starts

25.7 mpg

10.6 ppg

42% FG

32% 3FG

4.5 rpg

3.4 apg

1.0 spg

Hayward's 2016-17 stats (last season in Utah):

73 games played / 73 starts

34.5 mpg

21.9 ppg

47% FG

40% 3FG

5.4 rpg

3.5 apg

1.0 spg

The Wizards could look to part with Otto Porter's contract but even with the news that John Wall is expected to be out for the next 12 months, tying themselves to Paul's contract wouldn't seem to make a lot of sense, as Washington currently sits three games back of the eight seed Miami Heat.

Otto Porter's Contract

2019 - $26 million

2020 - $27 million

2021 - $28 million

The names tossed around the most with the Rockets in trade rumors, have been Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Kent Bazemore, JaMychal Green, James Johnson, Garrett Temple and Alec Burks. While it may be one of these names, I would like to throw out a few others that could make sense for Houston.

New York Knicks

LeBron is in L.A. with rumors of Anthony Davis, among others joining him. The NBA is ready to make the L.A. Lakers and New York Knicks a "thing" again. The Knicks traded away Kristaps Porzingis and have their eyes set on adding Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant with the potential of landing the number one pick and the right to select Zion WIlliamson. The Knicks could soon have a super team and they have no interest in winning this season. Their roster is right for the picking.

Wesley Matthews- There's reports of several teams having interest in Matthews if he gets bought out from the Knicks following the trade from the Mavericks in the Porzingis deal.

2018-19 stats in 44 games with the Mavericks (44 starts)

29.8 mpg

13.1 ppg

41% FG

38% 3FG

DeAndre Jordan- There's talk that Jordan could receive a buyout from the Knicks as well. Due to the public back-and-forth between Enes Kanter and the Knicks, it may be Kanter that is sent packing.

Jordan has been open about his love for Houston and desire to play for the Rockets. If Jordan is willing to take a hometown discount and is bought out, a rotation of Jordan and Capela could make things more difficult on the Warriors and would add length for matchups against Kevin Durant and Boogie Cousins.

2018-19 stats in 50 games with the Mavericks (50 starts)

31.1 mpg

11.0 ppg

13.7 rbg

64% FG (Only Rudy Gobert is higher in the NBA - Capela is 3rd)

Noah Vonleh- I'm not sure if the Knicks would move on from Vonleh or not. He's a young player, only 23 and is in the midst of his best season. Vonleh is playing under a one-year contract for $1.6 million. If Morey can get him to Houston, not only would he give more lineup flexibility with Capela, Faried and Tucker for Mike D'Antoni, Vonleh would also flourish with the added three point attempts in Houston.

2018-19 stats in 52 games with the Knicks (45 starts)

26.6 mpg (per 36 minutes, he'd be at 12 ppg / 12 rbg)

8.6 ppg

8.6 rpg

46% FG

36% 3FG

72% FT

2.1 apg

Mario Hezonja- Like Vonleh, he's only 23 but unlike Vonleh, he's having a down season. I believe the lack of weapons around him in New York and his role are preventing him from showing his best basketball. He's a natural fit in Houston as a starting small forward that could also play shooting guard.

Hezonja Career Splits:

as a Reserve

211 Games

16.2 Minutes

6.0 Points Per

41% FG

31% 3FG

78% FT

1.0 APG

2.5 RPG

0.6 SPG

as a Starter

52 Games

27.7 Minutes

11.3 Points Per

44% FG Per

36% 3FG Per

85% FT

2.0 APG

4.6 RPG

1.3 SPG

Hezonja Splits from Last Season in Orlando:

as a Reserve

45 Games

16.6 Minutes

6.7 Points Per

42% FG

30% 3FG

80% FT

0.9 APG

2.5 RPG

0.8 SPG

as a Starter

30 Games

30.4 Minutes

14.0 Points Per

46% FG Per

37% 3FG Pe

83% FT

2.2 APG

5.6 RPG

1.4 SPG

New Orleans Pelicans

The Pelicans' gullet is stuffed with Anthony Davis rumors. The team is going to move Davis eventually. Whether it's before the deadline or not, the team should be sellers as only the Suns and Grizzlies have worst records in the West. If the Pelicans can land a slew of picks and young talent from the Lakers, Celtics or any other team, the current roster should have some pieces that won't factor into the future. The Rockets should make calls on a few of their players.

Nikola Mirotic- He'll be a free agent after the season, currently making $12.5 million. He would slide in perfectly to the starting lineup with PJ Tucker and Capela when he returned, allowing Faried to fall back into a reserve role. Capela as a lob threat with Tucker sitting on the corner three is the perfect compliment to the vision of Paul and the spacing Harden opens up. Mirotic would knock down the consistent three that's been missing from this Rockets team.

2018-19 stats in 32 games with the Pelicans (22 starts)

28.9 mpg

16.7 ppg

8.3 rpg

45% FG

37% 3FG

84% FT

Darius Miller- In his last two NBA seasons he's been spectacular from long range. The small forward who is playing on the last year of his deal for $2.2 million would fill an immediate need for the Rockets.

2017-CURRENT (131 games with 14 starts)

24.3 mpg

7.8 ppg

1.9 rpg

1.5 apg

43% FG

40% 3FG (4.6 attempts per game)

86% FT

Minnesota Timberwolves

Minnesota is currently the 11 seed in the west, but only three games back of the 8th seeded, Clippers. The west is packed with competition and I don't see this team competing for any significant playoff run. If they do manage to sneak into the playoffs, they'll most likely face one of the three best teams in the west, the Warriors, Thunder and Rockets (not buying the Nuggets or Trailblazers). They have a trio of point guards that all make sense for the Rockets if Minnesota wants to part with one before losing them. Derrick Rose is a free agent after the season, Tyus Jones is a restricted free agent and Jeff Teague has a player option for next season.

Derrick Rose- Let the 30 year old pursue a title. Rose has returned from the ashes to have a stellar season in Minnesota.

2018-19 stats in 39 games with the Timberwolves (13 starts)

28.7 mpg

18.3 ppg

48% FG

41% 3FG

4.7 apg

2.8 rpg

0.6 stl

1.7 turnovers

Tyus Jones-

2018-19 stats in 43 games with the Timberwolves (6 starts)

20.3 mpg

5.4 ppg

38% FG

30% 3FG

4.0 apg

1.7 rpg

1.3 stl

0.6 turnovers

Jeff Teague-

2018-19 stats in 31 games with the Timberwolves (31 starts)

30.3 mpg

11.5 ppg

41% FG

34% 3FG

8.1 apg

2.4 rpg

1.1 stl

2.3 turnovers

Orlando Magic

Reports have been out that the Magic could ship out Nikola Vucevic. The Magic are the 11th seed in the east and are three games back of the 8th seeded, Heat. With the Magic nine games under .500, Houston would be wise to pick-up one of the non-superstars on Orlando's roster.

Terrence Ross- In the last year of his contract which is worth $10.5 million for this season. Houston could throw collateral Orlando's way to scoop up the 28 year old who is having the best season of his career. When he was 22 years old, he shot 40% from 3 on 5.0 attempts per game. Great size at 6'7 to help defensively against the Warriors. He'd have to take the MDA crash course on "No Mid-Range Shots" as he's currently #2 in the NBA on % of points coming from mid-range.

2018-19 stats in 53 games with the Magic (0 starts)

26.5 mpg

14.1 ppg

43% FG

38% 3FG (6.2 attempts per game)

1.5 apg

3.3 rpg

Long Shots

Marcus Smart - 24 year old - PG / SG - Boston Celtics

Smart plays similar to James Harden and Draymond Green on defense. They play so much bigger on the defensive side of the ball. Smart is an ideal match for the point guard position with the Rockets. He would not be a liability on switches despite being undersized in most matchups.

Brandon Ingram - 21 year old - SF - Los Angeles Lakers

He's been mentioned in trade rumors, most notably as of late with several teammates for Anthony Davis. There's been some reports that the Lakers aren't pleased with his growth. I realize he had the cheap shot on Chris Paul during the Paul / Rajon Rondo fracas. If I was Morey, I wouldn't pass on the talent of Ingram, if the Lakers are making him available. I still believe he'll be a top 15 player in the NBA.

Jaylen Brown - 22 year old - SG / SF - Boston Celtics

You can basically take everything I said about Ingram and copy and paste it here for Brown, with the exception of throwing a punch at Chris Paul. His numbers and minutes are down this season. Houston should see if the Celtics are hoarding Brown as a contingency plan for if they trade Jayson Tatum for an Anthony Davis-type player or if they're planning on packaging a lot of these younger players together. A 22 year old that can play shooting guard or small forward at 6'7 and 220 pounds, while only being a season removed from knocking down 40% of his three point attempts, sounds like Morey's dream.

Bojan Bogdanovic - 29 year old - SF - Indiana Pacers

Now that Victor Oladipo is out, could the Pacers move Bogdanovic? He's making $10.5 million this year and is a free agent after the season. In his two seasons with the Pacers, he's played in 133 games while averaging 4.7 three point attempts per game. In those 133 games, he's shooting 41.3% from long distance!

Death, taxes and Daryl Morey making moves. What will be his next?

research used for this article consisted of: basketball reference, spotrac

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