The Houston Rockets are slowly but surely working towards getting healthy once again. With Eric Gordon recently returning from injury and Chris Paul set to return Sunday, it essentially covers the backcourt depth. But the Rockets could use an extra body in the frontcourt, even with the signing/emergence of Kenneth Faried.
The injury to center Clint Capela will leave him out through the All-Star break more than likely, as ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski revealed in mid-January that he had suffered a thumb injury. Unfortunately, it proved to be worse than originally thought, as Capela’s MRI showed ligament damage.
At this point, the addition of Faried could be enough to hold the Rockets over until Capela’s return, but adding another legitimate center to the mix makes sense. The key is that Houston almost certainly won’t want to give much up in a potential trade. Fortunately, two options in New York Knicks center Enes Kanter and Chicago Bulls big man Robin Lopez could come at a low cost to the team.
Let’s look at two potential deals, one for both players, which wouldn’t leave the Rockets shorthanded and will allow them to bolster their frontcourt prior to the homestretch of the year.
*All trades courtesy of ESPN NBA Trade Machine.
Robin Lopez Finally Gets Moved
*Note: Houston adds a second-round draft pick.
The Chicago Bulls seem to have little interest in buying out Lopez, although that may happen if the deadline gets closer and no deal happens. But instead of risking watching Lopez go elsewhere, the Rockets could offer up Brandon Knight for contract reasons and a second-round pick to make the deal happen.
The worst-case scenario for Houston is if they wait out the Bulls release of the big man and then he chooses to head to another team. With that said, the options are all on the table for the Bulls, but a deal with the Rockets makes sense for Lopez as an opportunity to see a solid workload and contend for a title.
Enes Kanter Traded to Rockets
*Note: Deal includes a second-round pick from Houston.
Things between the New York Knicks and Enes Kanter have taken an ugly turn. The big man can’t seem to find his way onto the floor at this point, even with starter Luke Kornet sidelined due to injury. And after a recent game, Kanter essentially asked for a trade out of town, as The Athletic’s Mike Vorkunov revealed.
“What they’re doing to me is pretty messed up. I deserve better.”
“You either play me or let me play.” Kanter said, according to Vorkunov.
I can’t envision a world where the Knicks opt not to deal Kanter before the deadline. The problem is since head coach David Fizdale won’t play him and it’s known the team wants to trade him, Kanter’s value isn’t all that high. Plus, he’s on an expiring deal, so it makes little sense for the Knicks to stick him on the bench for the rest of the year.