The Houston Rockets’ shorthanded roster lost another player on Monday just ahead of their matchup with the Western Conference’s top seed in the Denver Nuggets. While the Rockets have managed to continue to roll along even with the injury bug rearing its ugly head, they’ll face a tall task in this game.
As NBA.com revealed, the Rockets traded guard Michael Carter-Williams and cash to the Chicago Bulls in exchange for a future conditional second-round pick. Although Carter-Williams had fallen out of the rotation as of late, losing a healthy player at this point is less than ideal for Houston. The 27-year-old guard played just 19 minutes through the month of December and averaged 9.1 minutes per game on the season.
The Rockets now look ahead to their game against the Nuggets, and following the trade, we’re going to take a look at the team’s roster as well as the latest on Chris Paul’s injury.
Rockets Roster & Starting Lineup vs. Nuggets
*Notates expected starter
C: Clint Capela*, Nene Hilario
PF: P.J. Tucker*, Marquese Chriss
SF: Danuel House*, James Ennis, Gary Clark
SG: Austin Rivers*, Gerald Green
PG: James Harden*, Brandon Knight
Even with a very light roster, the Rockets have won 11 of their last 13 games but came up short against the Portland Trail Blazers on Saturday. Their recent streak has come largely thanks to the play of James Harden, who topped 40 points in five-straight games prior to the loss against the Blazers. He’s also managed to top 35 points in each of the past 10 games.
Along with Harden’s impressive play, Clint Capela has been a force for Houston as of late. In the two games to start the month of January, he’s averaged 21 points and 21 rebounds per game. To add on to the recent stretch, Capela has racked up a double-double in nine of the last 12 games, including five games with 19 or more rebounds.
The Rockets will rely heavily on Harden and Capela, while the likes of Austin Rivers, Danuel House and Gerald Green will also be tasked with a fair amount of the offensive workload.
Latest on Chris Paul’s Injury
After Paul suffered a strained groin in mid-to-late December, it was expected he’d miss roughly 2-3 weeks. We’re now in the third week and it seems as though it’s going to be pushed back even further.
Just prior to the New Year, the topic of a potential return for Paul was brought up, and the Rockets guard didn’t provide much in terms of a positive outlook. As Hunter Atkins of the Houston Chronicle reported, Paul said he has “no idea” when he’ll be back on the floor.
Since then, there has been a more clear update on his timeline (to some extent), but it points to Paul being sidelined for a few more weeks. As Mark Berman of Fox 26 cited, Rockets coach Mike D’Antoni said Paul likely won’t return until the end of January. He added that the team is “going to take our time with him and make sure he’s well” prior to bringing him back.