It’s pretty clear that the Houston Rockets are open for trading business. They were linked to talks for Markieff Morris last week, and on Tuesday, rumors of Dwight Howard possibly being moved started to percolate. Now ESPN reports that the team has had “several” discussions about trading forward Terrence Jones, and they’re resisting the idea of dealing struggling point guard Ty Lawson.
According to sources, Houston has expressed interest in Phoenix forward Markieff Morris and engaged in discussions with several NBA teams about trading talented but oft-injured forward Terrence Jones. Rockets officials would like to keep Jones.
Rumors surfaced that the Rockets were looking to trade Lawson, which team officials denied.
First off, the report is kind of funny. “The Rockets would like to keep Terrence Jones … which is why they’ve had several discussions with multiple teams about him. They’d also like to keep Ty Lawson.” Well, sure. If there were no roster limits, you’d want to trade for all the good players and keep all your good players and just have all the good players. That’s not how the league or reality works.
So intead, Houston is probably smart to explore trading Jones. It’s been obvious for a while the Rockets can’t keep both of their talented young forwards in Jones and Dontatas Motiejunas. Ther latter has been a better player who helped the team to the No. 2 seed last year when Dwight Howard missed most of the year. Jones is a stretch four who can hit from range and has the physical tools to be a quality defender when he gets older and has a wider knowledge base. He could get good value on the market.
For Lawson, the Rockets need to see what they can still do with him. They gave up very little for Lawson in the trade from Denver, but they need what he brings to the table: another ball-handler who can create offense so that James Harden doesn’t have to do everything. Lawson hasn’t been comfortable but there has to be some hope that can turn.
The bigger issue is that the premise Houston built this season on — building off its 2014-2015 success — is looking more and more suspect. It seems more like that year was a fluke, in which a subpar group of defenders happened to get in the right space, and allow Harden to carry them home. Unless they remember how to defend the way they did last season, it’s unlikely that any one trade is going to make them into the team they wanted to be this season.
And with Howard’s impending free agency, and the kinds of pressure the Rockets entered the season with, that can present a host of more complicated questions for the future.