Houston Rockets trade rumors indicate that the team is working hard to acquire a big man. Kosta Koufos of the Sacramento Kings has risen to the top of the short list, with increased interest coming from the front office in Houston recently. A report by NBA analyst Marc Stein states that Koufos has become the main target for the Rockets, meaning a deal could be in the near future. Gaining some size in the low post could certainly help the Rockets try to contend in the Western Conference.
Kosta Koufos has played 32 games for the Sacramento Kings during the 2016-17 NBA season, with 28 of them as the starting center. During that time, Koufos has averaged 19.7 minutes, 5.9 points, and 5.8 rebounds per game. He is shooting a healthy 57.4 percent from the field and offers good minutes on the defensive end of the court. Those numbers might remain static should he go to the Rockets this season.
Koufos is under contract through the 2018-19 NBA season. This season he earns just over $8 million, with about $8.4 million due in the 2017-18 season and then about $8.8 million the following year. That last season is a player option, allowing Koufos the opportunity to opt out of the deal. It’s a very affordable contract for a contributing big man in the current market.
The updated NBA standings show exactly why these latest Houston Rockets trade rumors make sense for the team. The Southwest Division has been controlled by teams that play tough defense for a while now, with the San Antonio Spurs and Memphis Grizzlies also battling for another title. The Spurs haven’t slowed down after losing Tim Duncan to retirement, presenting a familiar obstacle in the postseason.
Entering play on Friday (Dec. 30), the Spurs (26-6) lead the division by two and a half games over the Rockets (24-9). The Grizzlies (21-14) are four games behind the Rockets in the division. All three teams are currently holding playoff spots, with the Spurs battling with the Golden State Warriors (28-5) for the best record in the West. Acquiring more depth could certainly give the Rockets a push in the race for a divisional title.
The Rockets are scoring at will again this season, averaging 113.8 points a game. That’s the second-best mark in the entire NBA, behind only the 117.3 points a game that the Warriors have been averaging. Potential problems aren’t on the offensive end of the court, but rather on defense. The Rockets are also allowing 106.4 points a night, ranking the team as the worst defense among potential playoff teams in the West. That number needs to get better before the 2017 NBA Playoffs begin.
The benefit to the Rockets acquiring Koufos is that he is young and under team control. Koufos is only 27, despite being in the NBA for a number of seasons already. Before signing a free agent deal with the Sacramento Kings, Koufos also played for the Minnesota Timberwolves, Utah Jazz, Denver Nuggets, and Memphis Grizzlies. Koufos had been traded three different times before he became a free agent in the summer of 2015. Another deal likely wouldn’t surprise him this year.
In 534 NBA games (181 starts), Kosta Koufos has averaged 16.1 minutes a contest. His career averages are 5.6 points, 4.8 rebounds, and about one block per night. He also has a career field goal percentage of 53.2 percent, which makes Koufos a really dependable player on the offensive glass. If he received more minutes with another team, it’s possible that Koufos could be a double-double player in the league.
If the Rockets did complete a trade for Koufos, he could immediately give the team a good defensive weapon off the bench. There hasn’t been a lot of information about what the team would have to give up for Koufos in the latest Houston Rockets trade rumors, but it would likely include dealing a draft pick and the willingness to take on his salary from the Kings.
[Featured Image by Sam Greenwood/Getty Images]