It’s time we breakdown what these moves mean for the Rockets moving forward and how the team should fare down the stretch run of the season.
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First, let’s recap what the Rockets gained and what they lost during this trade season. The Rockets only added Lou Williams for now (more about that later) and lost Corey Brewer, Tyler Ennis, K.J. McDaniels and their 2017 first-round pick.
With all of their moves, the Rockets are now $3,538,201 under the cap, giving them the most money to spend in the buyout market among the top four teams in each conference.
This is especially important this season as players such as Andrew Bogut and Matt Barnes become available. Both players fill needs the Rockets have: wing defenders, rim protection, and rebounding.
However, the Rockets have signed anyone with that cap room just yet so we can’t analyze the McDaniels or Ennis trade completely at this point.
What we can evaluate is the trade for Lou Williams. Williams made his debut with Houston Thursday night against the new look Pelicans and boy, was he sensational:
I mean, he only joined the team Thursday afternoon and put up that kind of performance without a single practice under his belt. Williams will continue to have the green light to shoot and will receive some of the best looks he has seen in years playing next to James Harden.
The Rockets bench is now DEADLY. Against the Pelicans, the bench scored 79 points! Led by Eric Gordon and Williams, the Rockets bench can not only sustain leads, but actually increase them.
Plus, having such a good bench allows the starters (especially Harden) to rest more, which will be crucial come playoff time.
Williams is an elite (and efficient) scorer, and while he certainly has his defensive limitations, pairing him with Harden and Gordon for stretches makes the Rockets’ offense nearly unstoppable.
Since I dove a little deeper in to Williams’ game and season so far in a separate piece, let’s take a look at the Rockets situation moving forward.
As mentioned before, the Rockets now have significant cap room to navigate a buyout market that is sure to have players in it that fill various needs for the Rockets.
The Rockets have the fourth best record in the league and have more money than the other contenders in front of them, which could very well make them a serious destination for free agents looking for a deep playoff run.
The Rockets could particularly use a wing defender and a big man to defend the rim and rebound. The Rockets are ninth in the league in rebounding for the entire season, but since January first, they have been 18th in the league on the boards.
Shoring up that weakness and obtaining a physical presence inside should be a priority for general manager Daryl Morey.
Again, it’s important to note that without trading McDaniels and Ennis, the Rockets wouldn’t have this cap room to navigate the buyout market, making them a less likely destination for the marquee free agents set to be on the market.
Daryl Morey thought ahead and put his eggs in to the buyout market basket, a decision that could prove crucial to the Rockets’ playoff success.
In the end, this was a very successful trade deadline for Daryl Morey and the Rockets.
They rid themselves of their worst rotational player (and contract) in Corey Brewer, shed salary to explore the buyout market, and obtained one of the best bench players (and scorers) in the league in Lou Williams.
While they did have to give up their 2017 first-round pick, that pick is most likely going to convey in the 25-27 range, and the Rockets already have enough young talent in Clint Capela, Montrezl Harrell and Sam Dekker that they don’t need to add another young piece to a core that is in its prime.
The Rockets now move forward with an even deadlier bench and offense, and have cap room to sign another piece to the rotation.