Trade Reaction: Rockets Receive Lou Williams From Lakers

In a surprise move, the Houston Rockets traded for Lou Williams from the Los Angeles Lakers. How does the trade affect both teams moving forward?

Everyone knew Daryl Morey was going to make a trade at the trade deadline. It’s essentially a yearly tradition at this point. However, with the Houston Rockets playing above expectations and sitting comfortably in the Western Conference at 40-18, there were some questioning this ritual.

Most knew the Rockets needed another defensive wing or big man to shore up their various weaknesses in the second unit, but few expected a trade for the offensively oriented Lou Williams.

First, let’s report the details. The Rockets will be sending a 2017 first-round pick and Corey Brewer in exchange for Williams.

Williams had been shopped on the trade market for some time, with the Washington Wizards and Charlotte Hornets expressing serious interest. However, the Rockets came out of left field and stole the sweet-shooting guard from the market.

The Lakers perspective

It is certainly an interesting trade for Houston. On the other hand, it was a pretty clear-cut move for the Los Angeles Lakers. Williams doesn’t fit their age timeline (he is 30 years old) and it makes more sense for their young players to get playing time to develop.

Getting a first-round pick in return (albeit one that is most likely to be in the 25-27 range) was a good return for Los Angeles.

It will certainly be interesting to see what the Lakers do with Brewer. Brewer has one more year on his contract for more than $7 million and his play has been very poor for more than two seasons now.

Brewer is a respected veteran and teammate which could be useful in the Lakers’ locker room, but this trade doesn’t save the Lakers any money moving forward.

The Rockets perspective

For the Rockets, Williams provides them with a much-needed ball handler and guard to relieve stress of Patrick Beverley and Eric Gordon (and James Harden to an extent).

Williams is an elite scorer (18.6 points per game in only 24.2 minutes per game) and most importantly, is a very good shooter, hitting 38.6 percent of his three-pointers this season.

Another important aspect of Williams’ shooting is his ability to hit corner three-pointers, something Brewer simply couldn’t do. This season Williams is hitting 50.9 percent of this corner threes and is a career 40.7 percent shooter on such shots.

He will get more looks from the corners playing alongside Harden and Gordon, which is good news for the Rockets’ offense.

The advanced numbers paint an even better picture of Williams’ offensive abilities. This season Williams has a 5.6 offensive box plus-minus and 4.24 offensive real plus-minus (good for first in the league among shooting guards if you classify Harden as a point guard).

However, Williams certainly comes with defensive limitations.

For the season Williams has a minus-3.1 defensive box plus-minus and minus-1.82 defensive real plus-minus, which is good for 80th in the league among shooting guards.

Putting Williams on the floor alongside Harden, Gordon and Ryan Anderson is essentially dismissing the defensive end of the floor for stretches of games.

However, the Rockets’ offense should be so potent it won’t matter in the regular season. The Rockets essentially replaced their worst offensive player (Brewer) for an elite offensive guard that can shoot threes at an elite rate. I’d say that’s a pretty good swap.

Another important aspect of this trade is that it actually saves the Rockets money in the future. Next season Brewer will make $7,579,366 while Williams will make an even $7 million.

Plus, the Rockets save money by not having to sign the player they would have drafted with that first-round pick, which most likely would have been a value somewhere around $1.5 to $2 million.

In the end, while this was certainly an unexpected trade, I think it is a deal that will benefit both teams moving forward. The Lakers received a first-round pick for a player that wasn’t in their long-term plans, while the Rockets received an elite offensive guard for a relatively cheap price.

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