The Houston Rockets have been exploring the trade market for the past couple of weeks in search for a big man and may now have found their man.
Houston has been looking to add another front court player since starting center Clint Capela suffered a fractured left fibula against the Minnesota Timberwolves on Nov. 17. Since Capela’s injury, the Rockets have been linked to Milwaukee Bucks’ Greg Monroe, Sacramento Kings’ Kosta Koufas, Dallas Mavericks’ Andrew Bogut and Denver Nuggets’ Kenneth Faried. However, Marc Stein of ESPN recently tweeted that the Rockets have settled on trying to pry Koufos away from the Kings.
Trade rumble: Houston has made no secret of its desire to add a big man and the Kings' Kosta Koufos, I'm told, has emerged as a prime target
— Marc Stein (@ESPNSteinLine) December 30, 2016
Koufas has started 28 of the Kings’ 32 games but is averaging less than 20 minutes a game. The seven-foot center does not produce much on the offensive end, but is a good rebounder as well as a solid rim protector. He ranks 28th in the league in rebounding rate and ninth in Defensive Real Plus Minus among centers. Koufas is currently averaging 5.9 points, 5.8 rebounds and 0.56 blocks while shooting 57.4 percent from the floor.
Sacramento is currently battling for the eighth seed in the Western Conference. But the Kings can afford to deal him as Anthony Tolliver and Willie Cauley-Stein could step in for him. Plus, Rudy Gay can play the four in small ball situations.
Prior to getting injured, Capela was having a breakout season in his first year as a starter. The 22-year-old Switzerland native was contributing 11.8 points, 8.0 caroms and 1.6 blocks in 24.5 minutes of action. He was also shooting 64.0 percent from the field.
The Rockets (25-9) have won three in a row and are 4-2 without Capela. Houston is coming off a 140-116 thrashing of the Los Angeles Clippers on Friday as James Harden picked up his seventh triple-double of the season. Second-year power forward Montrezl Harrell added a career-high 29 points, on 10-of-14 shooting, along with three rebounds, three assists and one block.
With Capela out, Harrell and Nene Hilario are time at center. The 22-year-old has stepped up his production with the increased playing time, producing four double-figure performances in the last six games. He had three double-digit scoring efforts in the previous 19 games. Overall, Harrell is averaging 8.5 points along with 3.4 rebounds and 0.9 blocks while shooting 64.1 percent from the field in 16.5 minutes.
Nene has started the last two games at the five spot. The thing is the 34-year-old is not really a starter in the league any more as he is too inconsistent and is better suited to play less than 20 minutes. That is not too say that Nene can’t be effective when he gets floor time. Nene has 11 double-digit scoring performances, including three in the last six games. Overall, he is averaging 7.3 points and 3.9 rebounds while shooting 56.6 percent from the floor in 16.9 minutes of action.
Zach Lowe of ESPN is reporting that the Rockets are willing to part ways with small forward Corey Brewer in order to obtain a big man. Lowe added that there hasn’t been much interest in the 30-year-old.
Brewer has seen his minutes decrease the last two years with Houston after being acquired from the Minnesota Timberwolves. He has seen action in each one of the Rockets 34 games this year though he is averaging a career-low 14.4 minutes of action. Part of the reason that Brewer has not seen a ton of playing time is because of the arrival of Eric Gordon and development of Sam Dekker. The other part has been lack of production.
Brewer has just two double-digit scoring games. He is averaging a career-low 3.9 points and 1.8 rebounds while shooting 41.7 percent from the field. Brewer is not a threat from beyond the arc, shooting 23.5 percent from there in 2016-17 and 28.5 percent for his career. The 10-year veteran has played better over the last three games, tallying 24 points, on 9-of-14 shooting (3-of-6 from the three-point line), and coming up five steals in 54 minutes.
Gordon has revived his injury plagued career with Houston. The 28-year-old has appeared in all 34 games, averaging 17.4 points a game as he is making a career-best 3.7 triples and shooting 43.0 percent from beyond the arc.
Dekker spent most of last season with Rio Grande Valley, the Rockets’ D-League team. The 2015 first round selection is averaging 7.1 points along with 4.1 rebounds a game in 19.2 minutes. He is shooting 49.2 percent from the field and 33.2 percent on three-point attempts.
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