Among good NBA teams last season, no squad was more snake bitten with injuries than the Houston Rockets. Three of their five starters at the beginning of 2014-15 wound up missing sizable chunks of the season (or in the case of point guard Patrick Beverley, the entire postseason). Still, as we all know, the Rockets were able to secure the Southwest Division title and a two seed in the Western Conference.
The silver lining in all of it was that the Rockets were forced to develop some depth. Donatas Motiejunas was a revelation as a stretch four before a back injury ended his season. Clint Capela became a valuable, viable rotation big with actual value as an asset or an "energy" guy off the bench. The Rockets signed Josh Smith and traded for Corey Brewer, both of whom are in play to come back this season under new deals.
As strange as it sounds, with a fully healthy (and re-signed) roster of forwards, there just aren't enough minutes to go around. So it would stand to reason that Daryl Morey would be looking to make moves. (Actually, to be fair, Morey is never NOT looking to make moves. I'm fairly certain, in his rare moments of REM sleep, Morey dreams in "ESPN Trade Machine" mode.)
Ultimately, every offseason, there are a few points of confluence when everything comes together and makes the world ripe for NBA deal making. Draft night is inherently one of those points. Tonight is draft night. Also, yesterday was the day forward Kevin Love opted out of his deal and became a free agent. Also, forward LaMarcus Aldridge has indicated he is not going back to Portland next season. Morey has been vocal about his desire to land a third All-Star caliber player.
THIS IS IT, PEOPLE. THE CONFLUENCE IS HERE.
The early rumors have Love as a coin flipper to return to Cleveland, and if he doesn't then the Lakers, the Celtics, and a handful of others are in play. The early rumors on Aldridge have the Lakers, Knicks, Spurs, Mavericks, and Hawks as possibilities. The EARLY rumors had the Rockets nowhere to be found. That's why I don't pay attention to the EARLY rumors. Because you know Morey is ALWAYS lurking, and that's what ESPN's Marc Stein thinks….
Cap space is not Houston's friend at the moment, but word is they will try to get in the mix for both Love and Aldridge as Rockets often do— Marc Stein (@ESPNSteinLine) June 25, 2015
To that end also hearing that the Rockets are likely to try to trade Terrence Jones as part of today's draft proceedings— Marc Stein (@ESPNSteinLine) June 25, 2015
If a deal goes down involving one of the two young power forwards heading into contract years (Jones, Motiejunas), Jones is clearly the one that Rocket fans should want to see moved ahead of Motiejunas. Motiejunas has a chance to be a guy who can consistently go get points in the league for a long time.
Jones, on the other hand, is a guy who's been injury prone and just came off of a month of his worst basketball as a pro in the postseason. Also, the fact that his worst basketball historically has come in the postseason (happened in 2014, too) would seem to indicate that he's a regular season lamb killer and doesn't adapt well to the big stage. A lot of people like Jones' ball handling and perimeter skills, but I don't see it. I see a methodical ball handler and a guy who is a step slow. Hopefully, the league sees it differently come trade time.
If you like this story, consider signing up for our email newsletters.
SHOW ME HOW
You have successfully signed up for your selected newsletter(s) - please keep an eye on your mailbox, we're movin' in!
Either way, if you're a Rocket fan, I wouldn't get too married to the idea of drafting any of the incoming players available around the 18th pick (since it would likely be part of any deal the Rockets may make), and I'd hold off on that customized Terrence Jones jersey. And if a sign and trade for Aldridge or Love is in the works, you may have to send Trevor Ariza a good bye tweet as well. I think he knows this...
I know this is a random tweet but I love Houston. That's all— trevorariza (@TrevorAriza) June 24, 2015
It's draft night, and Daryl Morey's your GM. Unless your name is James Harden, there's just no such thing as a "safe" Houston Rocket.
Listen to Sean Pendergast on SportsRadio 610 from 2 p.m. to 7 p.m. weekdays. Also, follow him on Twitter at http://twitter.com/SeanTPendergast.