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Trade winds blowing: Rockets hinting at win-now mindset in deals

Rockets Jalen Green, Ime Udoka
Jalen Green is a hot topic when it comes to trades. Composite Getty Image.

The Rockets have been waiting patiently. Their fans have been frothing at the mouth. Finally, they made a move.

The trade to bring in Steven Adams may not have been the type of move many were looking forward to, but it's a move that'll help. Remember, they had Brooke Lopez all but signed on the dotted line until he decided to go back to Milwaukee this past offseason. Knowing Alperen Sengun is limited defensively, bringing in a big who can help was a priority. Lopez was more ideal because he can also hit the three. When that fell through, Jock Landale was the contingency plan.

Fast-forward to the now, and this team is threatening a play-in spot. As of this writing, they're a half game behind the 10th spot. At one point, they were as high as a 6th seed. Head coach Ime Udoka wants to win now. He sees the talent this team has and knows what it's capable of. There were some phases of the plan the organization talked about when he was hired. It seems like the plan is ahead of schedule and the team is ready to accelerate things.

Now, of course Adams wasn't the “star” they're hunting for. The Rockets are most likely looking for a piece to bring that will fit with their young core, as well as the vets they signed this past offseason. Outside shooting is something I feel they need. Yes, they're shooting 35% as a team, but guys aren't as consistent as I'd like. Possibly another shot creator could be in the cards. Not necessarily another guard, so it could be a wing. I can't quite place a finger on what's required most as far as a “star” this team would need to add right now.

When your players are sought after by teams looking to compete for titles, that's a good thing. Especially when said guy (Jae'Sean Tate) plays 18 minutes a game that can be easily given to other guys who the team sees as more of a long term investment. Looking at Cam Whitmore, Tari Eason, and Amen Thompson specifically. Tate, while a solid vet, is already 28 years old. The guys I listed are 19, 22, and 21 respectively. They all can provide the same qualities Tate can in different forms. Given some time to develop, and they'll all be better pros.

Jalen Green is a hot topic when it comes to trades. Some want him to stay and feel he's untouchable. Others want the team to be built around Sengun and feel Green is getting in the way. My philosophy has always been sell high if you're going to sell at all. He has a ceiling of an All NBA/All Star/league scoring leader, and a floor of a 20 PPG scorer who's more Robin or Alfred than Batman. I don't think the organization is ready to hit the eject button on him yet. He was the number two overall pick a couple of years ago. There's still time to see what he can do in the current construct of this team before blowing it up like that.

With the deadline being February 8 at 3pm EST, we'll all have to wait and see what takes place. There will undoubtedly be some more movement made by the Rockets. Who, how much, where, and why will all be worked out in the coming days. The rumor that Udoka wants to win now and usher in Phase Two immediately has caused some to think major moves could take place. I'm under the impression that may mean bringing in pieces around the guys they have as building blocks like Green, Sengun, and Jabari Smith Jr. Fred van Vleet and Dillon Brooks, the aforementioned vets they signed, aren't going anywhere. They've proven themselves as valuable pieces so far. If either were ever moved, it would be Brooks since there are guys on the roster that could potentially take his role in the coming years. Trade deadline watch will be fun again for this franchise! So, what are we wearing to the watch party?

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Cristian Javier is in better shape this season. Photo by Carmen Mandato/Getty Images.

As the Astros prepare to play their first game of spring training against the Nationals this Saturday, we're starting to see reports about how the players approached the offseason, and what tweaks they made to improve in the 2024 season.

Cristian Javier is a player Astros fans are hoping bounces back this year, as his ERA jumped from 2.54 in 2022 to 4.56 in 2023. Workload was thought to be one of the main factors causing his regression, he dealt with a dead arm last season and threw more innings than ever before (162).

Another explanation could be the pitch clock. This was another new element all pitchers had to deal with last year, and that also likely played a role in his struggles.

But according to The Athletic's Chandler Rome, Javier believes he was carrying some extra weight last season. Add that to some mechanical issues he was experiencing, and his struggles in 2023 make a lot more sense. And to be fair, he wouldn't be the first person to get a little fat and happy after winning a World Series.

In an effort to get back on track in 2024, Javier said he lost around 15 pounds this offseason. With the pitch clock not going anywhere, pitchers need to be in better cardiac shape than ever before.

Hopefully this modification helps Javier return to form and put up jaw-dropping numbers like he did in 2022. This rotation needs Javier to be the dominate pitcher we all know he's capable of being. With Justin Verlander behind schedule and Framber Valdez trying to bounce back from his own down year, Houston will depend on Javier like never before.

The Astros are certainly counting on it after giving him a 5-year, $64 million contract last season. Javier will definitely be a player to watch this spring.

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