What is next for the Rockets in the buyout market?
Now that the trade deadline has come and gone and General Manager Daryl Morey has said all the moves the team made were to put them in position to swoop in on buyout candidates, who are the best fits for the Rockets?
We all know that heading towards the deadline the team desperately needed help on the wing but after acquiring Iman Shumpert, it appears the team's biggest need may be to add depth to the front line. We have seen both recently and all season long that the team has struggled to contain bigger, more physical centers like Denver's Nicola Jokic, Orlando's Nic Vucevic, Philly's Joel Embiid, and the Spurs' LaMarcus Aldridge. With Nene only able to contribute 10 to 15 minutes per game when healthy and seemingly injured every year no matter how much they try and rest him, an extra "big" could really help come playoff time. With Clint Capella's slight frame and the likes of Karl Anthony Towns, Rudy Gobert and DeMarcus Cousins all potential playoff foes, it would behoove Morey to add at least one experienced low post player to the roster. So with that being said, who is out there or could be available?
The first big man to hit the market was Enis Kanter. After a tumultuous season with the Knicks and New York failing to find a trade partner, the Turkish 7 footer who specializes in offense hit the open market. He could definitely give the Rockets some scoring punch on the low block and run the floor a little bit, but defensively he has never been known as a rim protector or power rebounder. He could be a fit for Houston but only if other opportunities dry up or sign with other contenders.
The Pelicans may not have moved Anthony Davis before the deadline, but they were able to make a move and add Markeiff Morris to their roster. With Julius Randall having a breakout season and the "Brow" still playing 25 minutes a game, Morris was sent packing to hopefully find greener pastures. Although he has had an up and down season, he was still averaging 11 points, 6 rebounds and shooting 34% from 3 point range, right on par with his career tendencies. Playing in a free-flowing offense that gives a chance to get some easy baskets on the break and open looks on the wing, he could really flourish in the Rockets system. If the feeling is mutual, I like the thought of adding this 6' 10" athletic and yet powerful post man.
Another big man that could fit in nicely in Houston for short doses off the bench is Marcin Gortat. Nicknamed the Polish Hammer, he has established himself as a tough and powerful post player that plays both ends of the floor and won't back down to anyone.
The Clippers are expected to set him free in the next few days and he would be a nice addition for the H-town squad. He may not be a weapon on the wing or facing the basket, but he more than makes up for it with his ability to score and finish on offense while packing the post and defending the paint. He has averaged 10 points and 8 rebounds for his career while shooting 55% from the field. He would instantly upgrade the toughness and power of the Rockets front line and provide a quality insurance policy in case Nene once again cannot answer the bell.
The Bulls' Robin Lopez is also expected to be bought out in the next week or so and he will have plenty of suitors. He may not shoot the 3-ball like his brother Brook in Milwaukee, but he is big and physical and could provide Houston with similar characteristics to what Gortat brings to the table. Lopez has struggled this season playing with a young and underachieving Chicago team, but he is a quality defender, shot blocker and rebounder. He is underrated on the offensive end and can get you an occasional bucket on the block if you need it. The other big advantage to signing him is that the other team interested in his services is the Warriors and keeping anyone of quality out of the Bay area is a positive for the Rockets.
The final name on my list is a Houston native that would love to come home and help Houston compete for a title. DeAndre Jordan is a center that has been on the Rockets radar for years and for the right price he would be an overwhelming addition and quite possibly the ideal post-buyout signing in the entire league. Jordan has been first team NBA once, third team twice and is a two time all defensive team member in the league. He has lead the league in rebounding and has been an NBA all-star, as well as having plenty of playoff experience. He would immediately upgrade the Rockets post defense and having played with Chris Paul he would have chemistry on the high pick and roll and lobs to the basket. The Knicks have said they planned to hang on to Jordan for the time being, but if he is set free he could be a huge addition to the Rockets roster. He has averaged a double-double over his 11-year career and can run the floor better than most big men and finishes well around the rim. Sure his free throw shooting is a liability but the positives far outweigh the negatives if he is available and interested in coming home.
If the Rockets are able to land at least one of the postmen on this list it would be a huge upgrade to the roster and give them a big boost come playoff time. Add two of them and Morey will have completely transformed his roster and rotation from one of the worst in the league to one of the best. With all the criticism this season that Morey has had to own regarding his inability to keep a team that was one hamstring away from a Finals appearance together, he could save face and give James Harden a team capable of another long playoff run. For now, we will all wait and see what is yet to come, but an extra big man would be a great kickstart to a strong playoff push in the second half of the season.