NBA Trade Grades: Houston Rockets Add Lou Williams From Lakers
With the Los Angeles Lakers agreeing to send Lou Williams to the Houston Rockets for Corey Brewer and a draft pick, it’s time for some NBA Trade Grades.
NBA trade season began the moment the Charlotte Hornets inexplicably dealt for Miles Plumlee, and ever since then, the deals have gotten progressively more insane.
Though the latest transaction to trickle out through Twitter never had a chance of living up to the inexplicable heist the New Orleans Pelicans got with DeMarcus Cousins, Tuesday evening provided a fairly even swap for both involved parties.
As first reported by The Vertical’s Adrian Wojnarowski, the Houston Rockets have agreed to send Corey Brewer and a first round draft pick to the Los Angeles Lakers in exchange for noted bench scorer Lou Williams.
2017 1st round pick
With Magic Johnson taking over as president of basketball operations for the Lakers earlier in the day and Rob Pelinka set to join the party as their new general manager, the pressure was on for this prestigious franchise to let the fans know their team is still in good hands.
Meanwhile, the Rockets added more scoring and guard depth to a high-powered offense that already had a Sixth Man of the Year candidate. The question is, how did each side fare in this seemingly sensible deal? Here are NBA Trade Grades for both sides.
On the surface, it seems a bit curious for the Rockets to give up a first round selection — even one that’s currently slated to be the 27th overall pick in this year’s draft — for another Sixth Man of the Year candidate.
The Rockets already had Eric Gordon providing his 17.2 points per game off the bench, they’re already leading the NBA in three-point makes by a significant margin (14.5 per game) and their offense is already ranked second in the association, trailing only the mighty Golden State Warriors.
However, part of the reason for Houston having a problem over the last month is the three-point shooting completely tailed off. The Rockets are only 7-6 over their last 13 games, and though they’re leading the league in three-point makes, that’s only because they’re taking a league-high 39.8 threes per game — 6.2 more than the next closest team.
Not a huge upgrade for the Rockets, but Brewer was a problem with shooting, and Houston had already replenished depth with young guys.
— Hardwood Paroxysm (@HPbasketball) February 22, 2017
The Rockets only rank 11th in three-point percentage at 36.4 percent, which is where Lou Will’s 38.5 percent shooting on 5.5 long range attempts per game could come in handy. Corey Brewer’s 23.4 percent shooting from deep and the remaining $7.6 million on his salary for next season were more than expendable.
While there might be some concern about skill overlap in a backcourt that now includes James Harden, Patrick Beverley, Eric Gordon and Lou Will, don’t forget that both Beverley and Gordon have been very injury-prone in recent years. One injury to either and Houston’s guard depth would’ve been shot.
This provides the Rockets with some form of insurance for this year’s playoff run and next season, at a perfectly team-friendly price of $7 million.
Points per 36 minutes this season
8. LOU WILLIAMS
— Tom Haberstroh (@tomhaberstroh) February 22, 2017
Though Harden runs the point, the Rockets don’t really have a backup point guard. Beverley is technically listed as a point guard and Gordon shares some playmaking duties off the bench, but the Beard pretty much runs the show.
The arrival of Lou Will adds another guard who can not only create for himself, but run an offense and even create for others (his 3.2 assists per game would rank third on Houston’s roster behind Harden and Beverley).
Some would say lou Williams and Eric Gordon are the same player. But Williams can run an offense a little better.
— Calvin Watkins (@calvinwatkins) February 22, 2017
With so many young players already on the roster and Houston looking to take the next step as a dark horse contender in the West, giving up a first-rounder this year is hardly a concern.
Lou Will fits in more closely with what the Rockets are trying to do, and though he’s a defensive liability come playoff time, general manager Daryl Morey has been consistent in his approach, putting all his money on that high-powered offense. It may have just gotten a little more dangerous.
Los Angeles Lakers
NBA Twitter was ruthless Tuesday morning when the Lakers announced that Jeanie Buss had cleared house and given Magic Johnson the title of president of basketball operations.
We’ve already seen a few former greats (Vlade Divac, Phil Jackson) tarnish their reputations with indescribably dumb moves as front office executives, and a quick look at Magic’s tweets over the year didn’t inspire much hope in his competence as a talent evaluator.
However, Magic was at least smart enough to see that Lou Will’s talents were wasting away on a tanking team with the second-worst record in the West, and that their sixth man could be far more valuable to the Lakers as a trade chip to bring in an extra draft pick.
Whether the deal was orchestrated by Magic or his newly hired GM, the first official move of his tenure was a pretty damn good one.
— HoopsHabit (@HoopsHabit) February 22, 2017
Though the Lakers have added another veteran who won’t contribute much on the court in Corey Brewer, they also netted a first round pick in exchange for a 30-year-old bench piece who had no long-term future in Los Angeles.
Though it’ll probably be the 27th overall pick, let’s not forget the Lakers were able to snag a late first round gem like Larry Nance Jr. at that very same spot just two years ago.
Los Angeles could’ve pushed for K.J. McDaniels or tried to take on another expiring contract rather than Brewer, who still has another year and $7.6 million remaining on his deal. But we can only be too picky when the Lakers accomplished their goal of dealing Lou Will for a first-rounder.
I’m quite surprised the Lakers weren’t able to find an expiring deal elsewhere, or at least a sweetener like KJ McDaniels. Lou is real nice.
— Kevin O’Connor (@KevinOConnorNBA) February 22, 2017
For those complaining about Brewer’s value to this team, keep in mind that this is a guy who’s seemingly always happy and upbeat. He shouldn’t be a locker room distraction and expectations for him will be minimal anyway.
He won’t be a factor for the Lakers’ rebuild, but as bad as he’s been for the Rockets lately, it’s not like Luol Deng has been tearing it up either:
I know Corey Brewer is mostly there to make salaries match but…. is he better than Luol Deng? pic.twitter.com/YhXCU4pRCY
— Montverde Contrademy (@basquiatball) February 22, 2017
The Lakers have some promising young pieces like D’Angelo Russell, Julius Randle, Brandon Ingram and Jordan Clarkson, but for all their flashes of potential, we can’t really say any of them looks like a franchise cornerstone yet.
The Lakers probably won’t find that future centerpiece by adding a first-rounder projected to be in the late 20s, but trading the team’s leading scorer ensures that the tank is fully on for Luke Walton‘s squad.
When you remember that the Lakers only keep their own 2017 first-rounder if it falls inside the top three, it becomes imperative for this franchise — which currently owns the third-worst record in the NBA — to keep its high draft pick in attempt to discover that next superstar.
Trading Williams is the first necessary step to giving Los Angeles the best odds possible for keeping that pick, and by throwing in an extra first-rounder, taking on Brewer’s salary is a more than acceptable compromise.