At 10-11, the Rockets are not where they expected they would be coming off a 65-win season and a trip to the Western Conference Finals. It should come as a surprise to exactly no one that they want to upgrade their roster, particularly with GM Daryl Morey pulling the strings.
As a result, the Houston Chronicle is reporting the Rockets are trying to work a deal this week for a swing man to help bolster the struggling team. As part of their maneuvers, they waived Danuel House, who they had just signed last week to clear a roster spot.
In the NBA, there are certain dates key to making trades. The first is two months prior to the actual trading deadline in February. That deadline this year comes on February 7 making December 7 a critical date because any player traded after December 7 would not be eligible to have his salary added to a deal on February 7. It's confusing, so think of it this way.
The NBA has trade restrictions on teams who are over the salary cap — virtually every team including the Rockets is. In order for a trade to be made, the players being exchanged must have salaries that roughly match. There are some exceptions to this rule, but that is the basic construct. Any player dealt after December 7 cannot have his salary factored into another trade in time for the February 7 trading deadline and, as such, can't be traded again this season.
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That may not seem like a big deal because most people think of trades with big names and big salaries. But smaller deals often involve players that may be used simply to add salary to another deal to make the numbers work and if you think you might be active come February 7, you will want to get any deals done before December 7.
And before you start coming up with deals that involve Carmelo Anthony, put that on hold. Anthony, who remains off the game-day roster but still on the team, was signed by the team on September 15. Free agents who sign with a team can't be moved for 90 days, so Melo isn't going anywhere before December 15, unless he is waived and there is no indication that is happening.
So, what will the Rockets do this week? Hard to say, but if you are looking for players who might be involved, Marquese Chriss would certainly fit the bill. The young, former first round pick could make a decent trade asset. And while it is unlikely, if there is a deal to be made that requires the inclusion of Eric Gordon (and it's worth the move), he is certainly not untouchable.
Don't expect any major deals to be swung this week. Think of this as the trade preseason. The Rockets are hoping they might be able to add someone to the roster who can help the team, even if that means the help comes in the form of another deal later.