There we were just minding our own business, sulking in the aftermath of an Astros loss to the Angels Thursday night. The Texans played their final (boring) preseason game. It was a pretty ho-hum sports night in Houston. Then, NBA first-to-every-story reporter Adrian Wojnarowski dropped this patented Woj Bomb on everyone on Twitter.
Houston has traded Ryan Anderson and De'Anthony Melton to Phoenix for Marquese Chriss and Brandon Knight, league source tells ESPN.— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) August 31, 2018
It's no secret the Rockets have been trying to move Ryan Anderson's contract since last season. The stretch four saw a precipitous drop in his playing time over the last season and he has never been as good a shooter at Toyota Center as he has in other buildings for whatever reason.
Thursday night, GM Daryl Morey worked more of his magic in making the deal. Most believed in order to move Anderson's contract (cumbersome considering his game), the Rockets would have to give up a future first round draft pick, maybe more. Instead, he moved rookie De'Anthony Melton and, in exchange, he picked up a pair of former top 10 picks in point guard Brandon Knight and big man Marquese Chriss.
Melton was an intriguing young prospect, but it was unlikely he would break into the Rockets rotation given their aspirations. In acquiring Knight and Chriss, they get a pair of young veterans who have a lot to prove.
Knight is only 25, but is already heading into his fifth NBA season. In his last full season (he's had injury issues the last couple years), he averaged 20 points per game for a bad Suns team. In addition to injury issues, Knight has never quite found his role, mostly playing for bad teams who looked to him for leadership. Playing for the Rockets, he will be surrounded by veteran leadership to help guide him along.
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On the plus side, Knight is an outstanding offensive talent with terrific athleticism and a wicked first step (assuming recent injuries haven't damaged that ability). In his best year from beyond the arc, he shot better than 41 percent, so he has that skill set in his arsenal. That should fit in extremely well on this team and his contract is less of a burden than Anderson's.
In Chriss, the Rockets get a young, undeveloped athlete with a penchant for weak side shot blocking and an awful lot of raw talent. He was a disappointment in Phoenix, but he has a chance to run the floor and perhaps work his way into a Clint Capela clone. If ever there was a place for an athletic big man who plays above the rim, Houston is probably it.
Ultimately, whatever the Rockets say, this deal was first about dealing Anderson and his huge contract and second about acquiring young talent. But, the talent they landed fills some holes in the roster and brings in more low-risk, high-reward assets Morey loves. As per usual, he and the Rockets seem to have gotten the far better end of the deal.
Maybe next time they could do it in the middle of the day on a Tuesday so we aren't so caught off guard.