The Houston Rockets are in the mix of the annual NBA trade rumors talk and for good reason this year. They are in the need of a big man since losing Clint Capela to injury around three weeks ago, but with it being no guarantee Capela returns, looking for another big man should be considered.
Luckily for the Rockets, there is one team in the NBA that has a surplus of quality big men who could really help their roster. That team is the Philadelphia 76ers, a team who has been productive in recent years in the draft but have a roster that has never gelled. The player who could draw some interest is Nerlens Noel.
The Rockets are in the midst of a seven-game winning streak, and with that success, they are third in the NBA Western Conference. Noel’s current team, the 76ers, are next-to-last place in the Eastern Conference. A trade to add more versatility to their roster, instead of having three big men, is a must for the 76ers if they want to compete at a high level ever again.
Before being injured, Capela was averaging 11.8 points per game and 8.0 rebounds per game in 28 games for the Rockets. Noel, on the other hand, is averaging 7.2 ppg and 2.9 rpg in nine games played this season. Noel is averaging 13.0 mpg, but in his most recent game on Jan. 8 against the Brooklyn Nets, he played 24 minutes with eight points and four rebounds and three steals.
Noel, who plays excellent defense, has been injured for much of his NBA career, missing the 2013-14 season after being drafted sixth overall. Noel played in 75 games the following season and last season played in 67 games. Noel missed most of this season thus far following knee surgery but returned to the court on Dec. 11.
Now, some may believe it doesn’t make sense to trade for a player like Noel who is injured so much, but at just 22-years-old, the Rockets should consider making a splash in the trade market. A trade for a big man like Noel, even if Capela returns this month, is a need if the Rockets want to become complete contenders in the West.
Current NBA trade rumor talk has the Rockets interested in Kosta Koufos of the Sacramento Kings. In late December, CSN Bay Area’s James Ham said it makes “perfect sense” for the Rockets to trade for Koufos:
“It makes perfect sense that Houston would be interested in Koufos… He’s an extremely durable big that understands his role and is excellent in the locker room… There is a legitimate concern that the Kings don’t have the depth to move Koufos while continuing to compete.”
It might make “perfect sense” for the Rockets to inquire for a trade of Koufos, but a player like Noel, who is listed as a power forward, can play center as well, which is what the Rockets are really looking for. With Koufos, the Rockets pretty much know what they’ll be getting and will get, but what draws the attention over to Noel is the potential he has.
Noel is still learning to become a quality NBA player, and though there is an NBA trade rumor here and there, the 76ers want to trade one of their big men, they haven’t yet. Maybe the asking price is too high, or they just don’t want to trade Noel.
For all parties involved, the Rockets should really look to invest in another big man via trade just in case another injury occurs or recovery time is even longer than expected for Capela. Noel might not be the right player, but who is?
There have been varying opinions on a potential Koufos trade too, so opinions will continue to differ until the Rockets make a final decision on a trade. The question isn’t only if the Rockets will trade for a big man like Noel. Rather, should they continue with what seems to be working well in this seven-game winning streak and not mess with what has worked in recent weeks?
[Featured Image by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images]